With the division secured, the Red Sox sent their backups out Thursday night to see how they would measure up now that they’re in meaning-free territory.
The answer? Not terribly well, if it wasn’t quite the blowout one might have expected. Henry Owens managed to last nearly five innings, but the Yankees got to him and the bullpen late, and Boston’s hodgepodge batting order couldn’t make up the deficit.
For Owens, it’s another unsuccessful start, but at least one to build on compared to his other trips to the majors. He was still somewhat wild and prone to the walk, but at this point it’s not realistic to expect him to be otherwise. Tonight, though, he also brought strikeout stuff to the table, letting him keep New York in check after allowing an early run to New York in the first. Even with their diminished lineup, the Sox were at least capable of matching that with a Xander Bogaerts homer in the fourth.
Even the best stuff we’ve seen from Owens in the majors could only get him so far, however. With two down and Aaron Hicks on first via a successful bunt, Owens surrendered a line drive double into the gap in right to Jacoby Ellsbury, allowing Hicks to score and giving the Yankees a second run and the lead.
As it turns out, that would actually have been enough with the Red Sox lineup proving remarkably quiet even given the personnel. But struggles from Heath Hembree, Robby Scott, and Robbie Ross Jr. provided both three more runs for New York, and the one reall concerning part of the night for New York. After weeks of incredible shut-down performances, the bullpen has now seen a Craig Kimbrel implosion on Wednesday and a step back from the middle ranks today. Still not enough to really set anyone to panicking, but presumably not what John Farrell wanted to see.
So yes, the Red Sox have followed up their 11-game winning streak with a sweep the other way in New York. And yes, they’ve drawn even with Cleveland in losses. But these are things John Farrell and co. expected heading into this game. It was Owens vs. Sabathia—a game that really just wasn’t going to be won. They’d very much like to get some wins against Toronto in Boston and at least hold home field advantage over the Indians, but at the end of the day, the simple fact that nobody got hurt should be enough to check the boxes for today.