The Red Sox were surging into the All-Star Break, and with the Yankees coming to town, they were going to use the opportunity to announce their return to contention with a series sweep.
Then they were going to put themselves in striking distance for the second half by taking two-of-three after dropping the first.
Now? Now, after an 8-6 loss Sunday night, their announcement has fallen flat, and left them 6.5 games back in the division headed into the second half.
The one-name reason why the Red Sox lost this game was Wade Miley. He got off to a better start than either Clay Buchholz or Eduardo Rodriguez by avoiding the first-inning Alex Rodriguez homer that was fast becoming tradition in Fenway Park. But having dodged Rodriguez in the first, Miley fell victim to McCann in the second. After a leadoff single from Mark Teixeira through the left side of the infield, McCann took a fastball that didn't get far enough outside and dropped it into the Monster seats to make it 2-0, Yankees.
The Red Sox didn't make Miley stew for long before getting the lead for him. Ryan Hanigan and Mookie Betts sparked a rally with leadoff singles in the third, and while Brock Holt struck out behind them, Xander Bogaerts, Pablo Sandoval, and Hanley Ramirez were good to keep the conga line moving with RBI singles of their own, scoring three runs before the attack finally died out with ground balls from Alejandro De Aza and Shane Victorino.
Miley seemed to be settling into his outing when Brian McCann quickly tagged him again for a leadoff double in the fifth, and moved to third on an infield single from Chase Headley. Miley managed to retire the next three batters he faced, but had the tying run come in on a balk on a pickoff throw to first. it wasn't an obvious one, either. One of those ones only the umpire sees--and when it's Angel Hernandez making the call, it's hard to give him the benefit of the doubt, disgrace that he is.
If Miley managed to limit damage in the fifth, though, he failed to do so in the sixth inning that was ultimately the reason the Red Sox lost this game. After another leadoff single hit in Brock Holt's direction--this time from Brett Gardner, who's more the type to do that sort of thing--Alex Rodriguez found the gap in left-center field, allowing Gardner to score from first without much trouble. Now behind 4-3, Miley unraveled, allowing doubles to both Chris Young and Chase Headley before the inning finally ended, and leaving the Red Sox staring up at a 6-3 deficit.
They managed to cut into that immediately in the bottom of the inning, with Hanley and Victorino combining to produce a fourth Boston run. But eventually, the other great problem of the Red Sox reared its head: the bullpen. Trying desperately to get a second inning out of Alexei Ogando in the ninth and avoid bringing Koji Uehara into a game where the Sox trailed by two, John Farrell saw his gambit backfire as Ogando allowed a two-run shot to Rob Refsnyder.
It's two runs that wouldn't seem so bad...but the Red Sox managed to score two runs off Andrew Miller and an incredibly sloppy Yankees defense in the bottom of the inning. Two runs that might have tied the game, but instead just made the defeat seem a closer thing than it actually was.
A fitting end to the first half. Expectations and disappointment.