Someone needs to step up and lead the search party for the Red Sox offense. After managing just one run over the 16-inning marathon on Saturday night, the lineup followed that same trend in Sunday’s first game. Going up against CC Sabathia, there was essentially zero hard contact on the day. To make matters even more frustrating, they were able to get on base a few times, but the squad just continued a disturbing trend of being unable to come up with a big hit to knock in a run or, god forbid, runs. For his part, Red Sox starter Rick Porcello was fine, but it really didn’t matter how he pitched given how poorly the offense looked.
If you have small children, send them to another room as I describe the disgusting series of events from the Red Sox lineup. Believe it or not, they actually started this game with two runners on base as Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts drew walks to leadoff the game. Of course, nothing would come of having two runners on base with nobody out. After a ground ball from Andrew Benintendi cut Bogaerts out at second, Chris Young came up with runners on the corners. As I’ve previously discussed on this webpage, there’s really no reason for Young to be playing in every game against lefties at this point. Sure enough, he grounded into an inning-ending double play.
The same sort of thing happened in their next try, as Sam Travis led off the second with a double. After a ground ball moved Travis over a base, Deven Marrero had a chance with a runner on third and only one out. The infielder hit a chopper towards the mound that Travis thought would get by the pitcher. Instead, Sabathia made a surprisingly athletic play reaching over his right shoulder and gunned Travis out at the plate. Sandy Leon drew a walk to put another runner in scoring position, but Marrero would be stranded at second.
After going down 1-2-3 in the third, the Red Sox once again had a decent chance at some runs in the fourth. In this inning, Travis drew a one-out walk and made it to second on a wild pitch. Jackie Bradley then struck out, though, and Marrero ended the chance with a groundout.
In the fifth, Leon led things off with a walk before being put out at second on a fielders choice. With Tzu-Wei Lin now at first, Betts came through with a single to put runners on the corners with just one out and the middle of the lineup coming up. That wouldn’t matter, as Bogaerts hit a pop up to right field that was too shallow to score the run and Benintendi ended the inning with a strikeout.
The sixth would be another 1-2-3 inning for the Red Sox as well as Sabathia’s last inning of his outing. It seemed hopeful that Boston could finally get something going in the seventh since they were facing a struggling Tyler Clippard and given the amount of success the Red Sox have had against relievers in 2017. Brock Holt started off the inning with his first appearance since April 20. He came through with an infield single on a weak chopper down the 3B line. Leon followed that up with a pop up, though, before Dustin Pedroia (also pinch hitting) grounded out to third base. That did move Holt over to scoring position, but Betts grounded out to end the inning.
Wouldn’t you know it, but the eighth was yet another frustrating frame. The Yankees sent Chad Green to the bump in this inning, and after getting two quick outs the righty allowed a couple of walks. That gave Bradley a chance to tie the game with one swing on the bat. Instead, he struck out on a sick curveball from Green to strand the runners.
While all of this was happening, Porcello was having a solid start that would be undone by a little bad luck, a significant defensive miscue and some bad pitching. Things got off to a good start for the 2016 Cy Young winner, as he pitched around four singles in the first three innings to get through the initial third of the game without allowing a run. His stuff was looking solid through that run, too, as Porcello racked up four strikeouts and a double play up to that point in the game.
In the fourth inning, things began to trend downhill. After beginning the frame with his fifth strikeout of the day, Porcello gave up a single to Brett Gardner. Fortunately, he followed that up with what looked like a fairly routine double play ball out to Bogaerts. Instead, the shortstop booted the ball and both runners were safe, creating an unnecessary jam for his starter. Porcello couldn’t get out of said jam, allowing a single to load the bases before allowing two unearned runs on a sacrifice fly and an RBI single.
The 2-0 deficit would still be there in the fifth when Porcello came back out, and the righty started the inning off strong by getting both Aaron Judge and Matt Holliday to fly out. He made a big mistake after that, though, leaving a changeup up in the zone to Didi Gregorius. The Yankees shortstop wrapped a flyball around Pesky’s Pole for a true Fenway home run to give New York a 3-0 lead.
Porcello came back out for the sixth and gave up a ground rule double but nothing else. In the end, he tossed six solid innings, allowing just the one earned run on top of the two unearned ones that came as a result of Bogaerts’ big error. It wasn’t the best start we’ve ever seen, but there was much more good than bad and there’s no way this game gets pinned on him.
Austin Maddox came in out of the bullpen after Porcello, and pitched a really strong inning and two-thirds. The righty did allow three hits, but two of them were weakly hit grounders simply hit to the right spot. Fernando Abad came in to face Gardner with two on in the eighth and got a strikeout to end the inning. Brandon Workman handled a 1-2-3 ninth in what was his first time pitching on back-to-back days since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2015.
To be honest, I’m not really sure what else there is to say at this point. On the one hand, there are too many talented hitters in this lineup for this trend to continue. On the other hand, it has seemingly been one step forward and two steps back for Boston’s lineup all year long. The good news is the pitching is still doing extremely well and the team is still in first place. Things could be a lot worse. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make another one of these frustrating performances at the plate any easier to watch. The Red Sox could really use an early outburst in tonight’s second-half of the doubleheader. David Price will be taking on Masahiro Tanaka in that one.