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Yankees 2, Red Sox 5: Offense sputters yet again

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The Yankees lay an egg in the series opener against Boston.

MLB: Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

I hate it when the Yankees lose to Boston. So much. The Bombers found themselves in a hole early tonight. With two runners on and an 0-2 count in the top of the first inning, Michael King grooved a four-seam fastball right in Rafael Devers’ wheelhouse. A 429-foot drive later, it was 3-0 Red Sox, and given the Yankees’ inability to score more than two runs in a game, the ballgame was essentially over from there.

At first, it seemed like there might be some fight. In the bottom of the first, DJ LeMahieu and Giancarlo Stanton led off with back-to-back singles. Aaron Judge, though, continued perhaps the most infuriating trend of the Yankees’ season so far by grounding into a soul-crushing double play, the club’s 53rd of the season. Gio Urshela lined out to center field for the third out and the tone for the night was set entirely too early.

To his credit, King bounced back with four straight scoreless innings. In fact, in the fourth, he struck out the side with an “immaculate inning,” the seventh in Yankees’ history and the first since Dellin Betances did it in 2017.

Unfortunately, the Yankees’ offense (such as it is) remained in its season-long funk. Gleyber Torres’ weak groundout to first base preceded swinging strikeouts by Rougned Odor and Clint Frazier in the second. In the third, strikeouts from Gary Sánchez and LeMahieu sandwiched a hard-hit grounder to first by Brett Gardner.

In the fourth, Devers made a nice defensive play to steal a hit from Stanton. Base hits from Judge and Torres put the Bombers in business with two outs. Rougned Odor, though, popped up on the infield and the Yanks’ first rally since the first inning was for naught. It was more of the same in the fifth, as Nathan Eovaldi continued to dominate the feckless Yankees bats.

In recent seasons, there was at least a decent chance that one of those Yankees innings with two runners on base would have ended with a three-run dinger. Not in 2021, though. This snake-bitten version of the Bronx Bombers doesn’t play that way.

After a one-out single in the sixth by Xander Bogaerts, Boone turned to the pen and brought in Lucas Luetge rather than let King face Devers for a third time. King made one mistake all night and put in a commendable performance, but that was more than enough considering the Yankees’ distaste for denting home plate.

Boone’s move did not pay off, as Luetge gave up back-to-back two-out hits. Boston scored two more runs. A five-run deficit, while technically not insurmountable, might as well have been twenty. It’s hard to get upset about Luetge, though. He had not allowed an earned run since mid-April, and the Yankees never even scored enough runs to make up for the Devers homer anyway.

In the bottom of the sixth, Stanton erased a LeMahieu leadoff single with the team’s 54th double play of the season. (Yes, this game wasn’t exhausting enough with just one annoying twin killing.) Stanton did hit the baseball extremely hard tonight, with two balls off the bat at 109+ mph, but the launch angle was not his ally.

Thankfully, Aaron Judge went opposite field for a solo home run and eliminated the ignominious possibility of being shut out by Nathan Eovaldi.

Urshela and Torres followed that dinger with back-to-back singles. Some awful defense from the Red Sox on an Odor roller then allowed the Yankees to score a second run. Frazier flew out to center field to end the inning, but the good news was that the Yankees at least put runs on the board. The bad news was that the offense called it an evening at this point.

Boone sent Luetge back out for the seventh, and the reliver rewarded him with a one-two-three inning punctuated by a spectacular defensive play by LeMahieu at first base.

Nestor Cortes came on in in the eighth inning to face Martinez, Bogaerts, and Devers. In an admittedly welcome surprise, he overpowered the heart of the Red Sox lineup, sending them down in order. The crafty lefty also got through the ninth, giving the bats one more chance.

Alas, the offense had done nothing against the Boston bullpen at that point and had no intentions of starting anything up. Sánchez, Gardner, and LeMahieu all went down on strikes in the seventh, and in the next frame, Stanton was quickly stranded after a leadoff walk on K’s by Judge and Urshela, and a Torres popup.

The ninth was as lifeless as ever. Odor whiffed on a truly awful 55-footer by Matt Barnes, Frazier got caught looking on a 3-2 breaking ball, and Sánchez went down on strikes to end it. Fifteen strikeouts from the Yankees bats tonight. Game. Mercifully over.

Blech. This was a rough game. No way to sugarcoat it. Here’s hoping tomorrow is a better day. Jameson Taillon will get the ball against Eduardo Rodriguez at 7:15pm ET on FOX.

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