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Yankees 2, Red Sox 3: Nail-biter in the ninth leads to nothing

The Yankees’ nine hits only led to two runs, and a ninth-inning rally came up short.

Boston Red Sox v New York Yankees Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

The Yankees knew that they had some dicey weeks ahead once they learned of Aaron Judge’s toe injury. It’s hard to replace the defending MVP in a lineup that revolves around him. Often, it feels like something is just missing to these Yankees rallies. That was the case on Friday, as New York scratched out nine hits but only ended up plating a pair of runs (one on a solo homer). The Red Sox didn’t exactly explode at Yankee Stadium, but even with an unfavorable pitching matchup of Gerrit Cole against the somewhat-struggling Garrett Whitlock, Boston scored enough to beat New York, 3-2.

Although both teams threatened at various points in the first few innings, the Red Sox were the first to get on the board. To the surprise of no one who has followed Boston over the past several years, Rafael Devers was the catalyst. He crushed an offering from Cole to right-center field, and though Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Jake Bauers made good efforts, it fell in for a double. Cole caught Adam Duvall for a called strike three, but Triston Casas smacked a single to right. Bauers’ throw failed to beat Devers to the plate and it was 1-0, Boston.

Two innings later, Devers was at it again. This time, the All-Star didn’t need any teammates to assist:

One 405-foot flight later, the Red Sox had a 2-0 lead. Cole’s home run problem returned in May after being blissfully absent for all of April, but this is just what Devers does—especially to Cole. The All-Star has now gone deep against him seven times since the start of 2021. Even for someone as talented as Devers, that seems ... a bit much. Cole is going to have to figure out how to keep him in the ballpark eventually.

The Yankees had stranded two in the first, lost one in the second on a failed stolen base attempt, and then stranded one more runner each in the third and fifth. They at least got that Devers run back in the very same inning as Boston, though. Josh Donaldson entered today with three homers in four starts since returning from the IL a week ago, and he continued his hot streak by getting the Yankees on the board against Whitlock.

The mere possibility of even a mild Donaldson bounce-back was why the Yankees didn’t DFA him in the offseason. They were going to owe him $25 million anyway. There’s no telling how long this run will last, but with the combination of his strong defense and the present uncertainty in the Yankees’ lineup, they need to at least see if Donaldson can contribute. Right now, he’s more than doing the job, so ride that wave.

Despite allowing just two runs, Cole had somewhat labored through six innings on 101 pitches, giving up seven hits and walk in the process without posting any frames that could be really considered “clean.” So the Yankees elected to go to the bullpen. The problem was that both Michael King and Ron Marinaccio threw two frames yesterday during the doubleheader and after two games in three days, the recent IL returnee Tommy Kahnle was likely unavailable.

So the ball went to Albert Abreu ...

... and on the second at-bat, out went the ball on a swing from Kiké Hernández. Wandy Peralta only threw one pitch yesterday, so he probably should’ve been an option before Abreu (even with the bottom of the Red Sox order due up). Jimmy Cordero had also warmed up earlier and eventually relieved Nick Ramirez in the eighth. Oh well.

The picket fence continued in the bottom of the seventh. Atoning for his earlier caught stealing, Isiah Kiner-Falefa used his speed to manufacture a run against a tiring Whitlock. He hit a roller to second base that Christian Arroyo would probably say that he should’ve made the play on, but he didn’t handle it cleanly and rushed the throw. IKF beat it out for an infield single, and a few pitches later, darted for second base. This time, catcher Connor Wong was the one with the bad arm, as his throw sailed into center; IKF slid feet-first, so he alertly got up and went to third after the steal. When Whitlock bounced a full-count offering to pinch-hitter Gleyber Torres away from Wong, Kiner-Falefa scored on the wild walk to make it 3-2, Boston.

Setup man/2015 Yankees legend/not-the-Rush-of-Blood-to-the-Head-Guy Chris Martin made quick work of the Yanks in the eighth, so after steady relief from Cordero and Ramirez, Kenley Jansen entered to try to put this game to bed for Boston in the bottom of the ninth. It looked like it might be a quick one for the veteran seeking his 405th career save, as Bauers went down on strikes and IKF flew out to right.

But the Yankees made Alex Cora and company sweat. Billy McKinney poked a single a left, and Gleyber nearly drilled both Jansen and Arroyo on a 109.9-mph seed to center. With Oswaldo Cabrera pinch-running for McKinney, the Yankees had a real chance to tie this game up on a single, not to mention the potential for more. The rookie Anthony Volpe battled Jansen to a full count and put a really good rip on a pitch that could’ve been a walk-off three-run shot.

God, that would have been beautiful. But perhaps that was an indication that it wasn’t the Yankees’ night. Volpe popped up to end the ballgame.

Suddenly, the Yankees have dropped three of four this homestand and five of their last eight overall. They lost this series opener against the Red Sox with their best starter on the mound and must now hope that the supporting staff can keep Boston’s bats at bay. Further, they must do a better job of stringing hits together because otherwise it won’t matter. The three runs they allowed tonight were annoying, but that’s few enough to win more often than not.

The rivalry will be back at it tomorrow night, when right-handers Domingo Germán and Tanner Houck go toe-to-toe. First pitch will be at 7:35pm ET, exclusively on Fox.

Box Score