In a pitchers’ duel, the Red Sox only needed their first two hitters, Tommy Pham and Rafael Devers, to beat the Yankees. Pham doubled and came around to score in the first, and Devers belted a two-run homer off Jameson Taillon. Since the Yankees could muster only two measly hits against a resurgent Michael Wacha and company, that was more than enough for a 3-0 shutout win to take the three-game set.
Both this game and this series highlighted some major Yankees problems right now, and they’re not your run-of-the-mill issues. This doesn’t look like your regular slump in the middle of a great campaign.
A baseball team works like an orchestra in any given game, and in the same manner, if one person is off, it will often find a way of affecting the whole group. It is a domino effect, and why everyone must do their part. One man can only do so much to carry the entire team. Aaron Judge has been that man for a Yankees offense mired in a miserable funk as of late, one that has now scored only eight runs in their last five games. With No. 99 held hitless on Sunday with three strikeouts (and DJ LeMahieu benched with a “foot/toe issue”), no one could step up to save them.
The Yankees’ lineup came into tonight’s game hoping to regain form against the veteran Wacha, fresh off an IL stint. The former Cardinal instead bullied the Yanks over seven innings of elite pitching with 18 whiffs on 41 swings (suitable for a 40-percent whiff rate). Wacha had one of his best outings on the season and was brutally efficient in the process too. He retired the first 14 batters in order and only needed 89 pitches to breeze through 21 outs.
Wacha set off the tone early by striking out the leadoff hitter in the first four innings of tonight’s ball game. The top four of the Yankees order went 1_for-12 against the Red Sox starter with seven punchouts. Considering that the bottom five was led by a badly slumping Gleyber Torres (0-for-22 since Monday), that didn’t bode well.
Taking aside the fact the offense had scored a total of five runs in the first two games of the series, the overall slump the team is currently in, and that this was Wacha’s first outing since returning from injury, this level of performance is highly disappointing. Those other factors added to a poor night for Yankee bats.
When the offense struggles like that, it throws off the entire team. In pitchers’ duels, you often hear conversations about whether the starter is aware of what his counterpart is doing, and most importantly, if that affects his play.
Taillon tonight was solid, he did his part in seven solid frames, but because others didn’t, it affects the perception of his outing from the outside looking in — and probably for himself as well. The Yankees pitched a Quality Start with three earned runs in seven innings, no walks, and four strikeouts. But Taillon could have been pitching like prime Pedro Martínez and it wouldn’t have really mattered, given the hitters’ horrid effort.
As for the Boston scoring, Pham led off the ballgame with a double and crossed home plate after a couple weak grounders. Then in the bottom of the sixth inning, Devers turned on a relatively solid heater up and in, like only he and a handful of other hitters can do and drove it out over 430 feet to right-center field.
It was the top of the Red Sox order getting it done, with Pham and Devers combining for five out of the six Red Sox hits. The absurdly-talented Devers continues to torch the Yankees; what else is new on that front?
Taillon didn’t have much to do other than tip his cap to the Red Sox star third baseman on that two-run shot, and there is not much more he could’ve done tonight. When the Yankees and Red Sox are playing each other, and the matchup on the mound is Jameson Taillon vs. Michael Wacha, you shouldn’t need Taillon to be near-perfect to have a chance at winning the ballgame.
Ryan Brasier and Garrett Whitlock wrapped up the final two innings of Boston’s shutout win, as the Yankees’ offense didn’t even fare well when Wacha left the game. They went down in order, clinching Boston’s first series victory against an AL East team all year long. New York’s only consolation from Sunday is that the Blue Jays continued to slump as well, and their 10-game AL East lead will survive another day.
The Yankees have no choice but to put this series and this horrid 2-7 road trip behind them in a hurry. A new series against the Rays awaits tomorrow night back in the Bronx, when Gerrit Cole will face a to-be-announced Tampa starter with first pitch at 7:05pm ET. Since the Yankees’ bats clearly already left town 24 hours ago, let’s hope that they got a good day of rest and will be prepared to actually show up.