Rick Porcello was good, but Luis Severino was better. As was the defense behind him. It was another frustrating day for the Red Sox offense, who just can’t seem to string together a few quality days of offense.
The Red Sox lineup isn’t quite at full strength right now, with Marco Hernandez and Josh Rutledge filling in for Dustin Pedroia and Pablo Sandoval on Wednesday night. That’s not really a good excuse for what this group has been doing lately, though, and specifically what they were not able to do on Wednesday night. They never got any sort of rally going until very late in the game, and couldn’t even really muster any exciting contact against the young Yankees starter.
The Red Sox went down 1-2-3 in four innings in this game, and the other frames weren’t any more interesting. The best chance was in the bottom of the fourth, when an infield single from Mookie Betts and a walk from Mitch Moreland gave Boston two runners on with nobody out. This was the opportunity to get on a little bit of a roll. Instead, Hanley Ramirez hit a ball up the middle that the Yankees were perfectly positioned for and ended up with a double play. In case you haven’t heard, those have been something of an issue for the Red Sox this year.
For as frustrating as the game was for the offense — and trust me, it was plenty frustrating — Severino deserves plenty of credit. The Yankees starter has the looks of a breakout early on in 2017, and that continued on Wednesday. He had his fastball working in the high-90’s to go along with a sweeping slider that was fooling hitters all night. The Red Sox couldn’t muster a fair ball in the air until the final out of the third, and managed only four against Severino. Boston did him some favors by being aggressive early in some counts, but the 23-year-old looks like a scary future piece for this Yankees team.
Severino would be lifted after seven scoreless innings in which he struck out six and allowed just three hits. Dellin Betances came in for the eighth and got through it without breaking a sweat.
Then, the ninth inning rolled around and the Red Sox finally started to show some life against Aroldis Chapman. Andrew Benintendi came up to lead things off and put together a very impressive at bat that led to a leadoff walk. Mookie Betts followed that up with a big double that was ripped off the Monster to put two runners in scoring position with nobody out. That brought Chris Young to plate, who was pinch hitting for Mitch Moreland against the tough lefty in Chapman. He grounded into an out, but it did score a run and bring the Red Sox within one. After Betts moved over to third on a wild pitch, Hanley Ramirez drew a walk to put runners on the corners with just one out. Jackie Bradley quickly struck out leaving everything in the hands of......Rutledge. After pulling a deep foul ball that would have won the game had it stayed fair, the backup infielder struck out to end the rally and the game.
Back to scary future Yankee pieces, Aaron Judge is A Problem for all of his AL East foes. He was the star of the night for the Yankees, doing essentially all of the work. With a runner on in the second inning, Judge took a fastball on the inner part of the plate and sent it into the bullpen in right field. I should probably mention that Judge is a righty. It’s hard to do it justice with words, but the strength it takes to use an inside-out swing and push that pitch that deep to right field is amazing. Judge is a freak.
In the bottom of the third, he’d come through once again, this time with the glove. With a runner in scoring position and one out, Xander Bogaerts popped one up towards the seats in foul ground in right field. Judge tracked it down and jumped into the seats to make the grab. At first, it was ruled to not be a catch, but after a review the call was correctly reversed.
Judge would come through one more time in less exciting fashion, drawing a two-out walk in the sixth and later coming around to score on an RBI single from Greg Bird.
Taking the loss for the Red Sox was Rick Porcello, who certainly didn’t pitch as poorly as his L would suggest. In fact, his stuff looked as good as it’s looked at any point in the last couple years. In his 6 2⁄3 innings of work, the reigning Cy Young winner struck out nine Yankees and induced a career-high 19 swinging strikes.
Unfortunately, he got zero support from his offense and the defense let him down to lead to a couple of runs as well. I already mentioned the Judge home run before — which, again, wasn’t a great pitch but also isn’t a home run for most hitters of normal size — but I didn’t mention what came before it. To lead off the second inning, Starlin Castro hit a routine grounder to Xander Bogaerts, but the Red Sox shortstop couldn’t make a clean throw. The ball skipped past Mitch Moreland at first and allowed Castro to get to second. Perhaps Judge still hits a home run even without the error, but even in that case it’d still be a solo homer instead of a two-run dong.
On the other run, which was also scored by Judge and was also mentioned above, there was more defense involved. This time, the official score will put it against Porcello, as he was charged with a wild pitch on a ball in the dirt that got by Sandy Leon and allowed Judge to advance to second after his two-out walk. It was clearly a bad pitch, but Leon should have been able to get in front of it and keep the runner on first. When Bird hit his single off the Monster, Judge was able to score easily from second. It would not have been so easy from first, and the run could have possibly been prevented altogether.
Porcello wasn’t perfect, as his four walks speaks to. It was the first time since last June that he walked more than two batters in a start. Still, he was good enough to win and was fooling Yankees hitters for most of the foggy evening. He hung around into the seventh inning, when he gave way to Robbie Ross with two runners on. Ross walked the only batter he faced, leaving Joe Kelly to come in with the bases loaded and two outs. Kelly got out of the inning with a ground out and came back out for a scoreless eighth inning in which he was consistently hitting triple digits.
In the end, it was just another frustrating game for the offense. Something's got to give soon, because watching this night after night is getting old. They’d get more of a pass in this one given the pitching they faced had they not been struggling so badly over the course of the entire month. Obviously there is still plenty of time to turn things around, and I’m confident they will, but it’s been hard to watch thus far.