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Yankees 0, Red Sox 5: Houck wins pitchers’ duel over King

Both starting pitchers shoved but only one bullpen faltered, and the Yankees’ offense never dented home plate.

New York Yankees v Boston Red Sox - Game One Photo By Winslow Townson/Getty Images

The Yankees’ offense authored one of their weakest efforts of the season, ensuring that they will finish the day at best level with the Red Sox for last in the AL East. They managed just four hits, going 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position en route to their ninth shutout loss of the season, 2-0.

Given the ball for his longest leash yet, Michael King actually worked himself into a bit of trouble in the first, with a pair of one-out singles by Rafael Devers and Justin Turner putting runners on the corners. King fell behind cleanup hitter Triston Casas 3-0 before working himself back into the count for the eventual strikeout, and looked like he would escape the jam jumping out to two strikes against Wilyer Abreu. But the rookie outfielder dunked a bloop single to left to put the Red Sox up early, 1-0.

King again worked into and out of trouble in the third, with Ceddanne Rafaela doubling to lead off followed by a Devers walk. Turner struck a sharp liner at Oswald Peraza, who unleashed a quick throw to second to double off Rafaela. Casas singled to again put runners on first and second, but King dotted a pinpoint sinker to strike out Abreu looking and strand the pair.

Meanwhile, Tanner Houck continued his infuriating trend of stymieing the Yankees. Entering today’s contest, he had a 2.39 ERA in 11 regular season appearances against the Bombers, holding their hitters to a .189 batting average. Despite yielding leadoff singles to Estevan Florial and Peraza in the first and fifth and a pair of doubles to Gleyber Torres to lead off the in the fourth and sixth, the Yankees never looked likely to cash in those runners, and indeed they would fail to score against Boston’s starter.

New York had its two best chances to score in the fifth and sixth. First, the Bombers put runners on second and third with two outs for Aaron Judge, but he struck out to strand the pair as he’s now batting .207 since coming off the IL. Then in the sixth, they had runners on the corners with one out, but Torres got caught in a rundown between third and home on yet another failed contact play. He has had some monumentally dumb moments on the base paths and in the field this year, and this one ranks right up there with the worst of them. By failing to fully commit to a plan either way, he was dead in his tracks.

Peraza would then ground out to strand another pair, giving Houck six scoreless innings with seven strikeouts while also tallying a career-high 19 swings and misses.

King meanwhile saved his best stuff for the fifth inning, striking out Rafaela and Devers to open the frame. It was a bit disappointing, therefore, to see Aaron Boone then go to Greg Weissert out of the ‘pen — we were told that King would be allowed to go 85-90 pitches but I still would have loved to see Boone give him the chance to complete five. He exited the contest having completed 4.2 innings, giving up a run on six hits and a walk against eight strikeouts on 87 pitches. He now sports a 1.27 ERA since joining the rotation, with 29 strikeouts and four walks across 21.1 IP.

Weissert looked sharp across his first two innings of work, at one point striking out three batters in a row. However, he fell victim to the dimensions of Fenway, with Rafaela hooking on opposite-field fly ball just around the Pesky Pole and just over Oswaldo Cabrera’s outstretched glove for a two-out solo shot in the seventh. The 316-foot poke doubled Boston’s lead to 2-0.

The Red Sox gave themselves plenty of breathing space in the eighth facing reliever Matt Bowman. The righty was able to induce a pair of quick groundouts, but lost a fair amount of command from there, serving up Abreu’s third single of the day followed by a walk of Adam Duvall. He then missed his spot with a 2-1 fastball to Trevor Story, with the shortstop lifting it into the batter’s eye in straightaway center to extend the Red Sox lead, 5-0. (After the game, Bowman was optioned to Triple-A to make room for recent signee Luke Weaver.)

New York pushed across a pair of two-out singles facing Chris Martin in the ninth, but Everson Pereira flew out to strand the pair and seal the loss, 5-0. It was a tough matinee for him, Florial, and Austin Wells, who combined to go 1-for-12; at least Peraza managed to match Torres with a two-hit day.

A win in the night game of the doubleheader would at least give the Yankees their first series victory of the season over their rivals, though would still be in last place with the Red Sox owning the head-to-head advantage. Clarke Schmidt goes against a yet-to-be-named Boston starter — first pitch is scheduled for 7:15 pm ET so we hope you’ll join us in the game thread.

Box Score