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Yankees 3, Red Sox 5: Close, but no cigar

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The Yankees drop the series opener from Fenway

MLB: New York Yankees at Boston Red Sox Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

One of the criticisms from a fan’s perspective of this team is that they haven’t just lost more games than we’d all like; they’ve been boring. Tonight, at least, was not boring — a close and tense contest decided largely by two ineffective starting pitchers — and the Yankees once again failing to break a game open. In the end, the Red Sox won their fourth straight over the Yankees to start this year, winning the series opener, 5-3.

Domingo Germán has has a rough month of June, and unfortunately that descent continued today. Just like last weekend, he went just four innings, surrendering four runs on five hits, throwing 72 pitches and inducing just 8 whiffs. Technically, only three of those runs were earned, but he committed an error on a ball dribbling in front of him that later led to the fourth run. Although it doesn’t count against Germán’s ERA, a clean defensive play keeps the run off the board.

Germán’s decision-making was poor, and so was his location with two strikes:

I don’t know why these pitches end up in the middle of the plate with two strikes, especially those fastballs. One of them ended up being the RBI double that Xander Boegarts hit that opened the scoring, and one in the preceding plate appearance to J.D. Martinez that he should have crushed for a three-run home run, but was just under it and hit on a line to center for an out.

Germán’s whole thing is that his curveball and changeup actually do generate a fair number of swings and misses. Why this team consistently calls fastball when he’s ahead in the count — he had the exact same problem against Oakland — befuddles me. They get hit hard, and they’re a big reason why Germán’s June ERA is now 7.03.

The Yankees did get to Martín Pérez, tying the game up the first chance they got. Loading the bases in the top of the second, the Yankees were looking for a big inning, and Clint Frazier’s walk got them on the board. Up came DJ LeMahieu, who has struggled in big spots this year, but drove a single into right field to bring in two and reset the game.

The second inning was exactly the kind of inning we missed from this team in the first two months of the season: falling behind isn’t a good thing, but if you have an offense playing to its potential, you can’t get too worried about it. It took until June for the team to really show that comeback ability, but it’s been more and more frequent as the weather’s warmed up.

Unfortunately, that was really the last we’d see of the Improved Yankee Offense. From the third inning on, they struck out six times against just a single walk, and in their best chance to score — a single, followed by a double in the fourth — Gio Urshela was thrown out at home on a Phil Nevin send that, charitably, shouldn’t have been called.

The Yankee bullpen did all right, with Lucas Luetge and Jonathan Loaisiga throwing shutout ball, and Loaisiga being just the third Yankee ever to strike out four batters in an inning (thanks to a wild pitch). The meltdown against the Royals was Loaisiga’s worst outing of the year, but everyone has a bad day, and it’s really important for the club that he was able to bounce back so effectively tonight.

Zack Britton left the game with a bum left leg, and Luis Cessa took over, allowing an insurance run that put the game on ice. Britton, who of course just rejoined the team, grabbed at the back of his left thigh and needed help getting down the bullpen stairs, a disconcerting development for a team that needs all hands on deck.

The Yankees did make it interesting in the ninth inning, bringing the tying run to the plate with nobody out. Clint Frazier struck out in a heck of an at-bat, and it was up to LeMahieu to replicate his clutch hit earlier in the night. In a repeat of a common 2021 Yankees trope, he grounded into a double play; ballgame. The Yankees will try and even the series up tomorrow night, with Jordan Montgomery getting the ball for a 7:10pm Eastern start.

Box Score