After Friday night’s win, the Red Sox were looking to build off that momentum and give a crushing blow to the Yankees’ division chances for the rest of the weekend. Instead, they were met with an entirely too effective Masahiro Tanaka. The Yankees righty did a good job of controlling the strike zone against the Red Sox and allowing a whole lot of nothing. Boston only had a few chances to put together big innings in this game, and they couldn’t come through when the rare opportunity presented itself. As for the pitching, Drew Pomeranz made it through most of his start without his best command, but kept the offense in the game for most of it. Things started getting away from him towards the end of his start, and he gave up the finishing blow when he probably should have already been lifted from the game.
The Red Sox offense got off to a slow start on Saturday against Tanaka, and they never really got a whole lot going throughout the righty’s start. He was working the bottom of the zone well, and while the Red Sox were able to work some deep counts they didn’t get many hittable pitches. The ones they did get were either missed or hit to the wrong part of the ballpark. Either way, it was a fairly boring day in the top halves of innings on Saturday.
The first three innings were particularly painful for the Red Sox, as they couldn’t muster a hit against the Yankees righty and only had one runner reach on a walk. That was Andrew Benintendi in the first, and he didn’t advance beyond first base. In the fourth, they got their first hit of the game on a Benintendi single, and while he’d get to second on a ground out he would be stranded there. They’d get a couple of hits in the fifth, but it didn’t amount to much because Rafael Devers, who got the first single, was caught stealing on what looked like a botched hit and run.
Meanwhile, Pomeranz wasn’t quite as sharp as Tanaka, particularly in the early going, but he got through the first half of the game with relatively little damage. After a couple of quick outs in the first — with one coming on a great diving stop from Tzu-Wei Lin — Pomeranz allowed a grounder to third, but Rafael Devers throw got by Moreland and put Gary Sanchez on second. Another grounder to third ended the scoring chance.
In the second, after a quick first strikeout, the Yankees got on the board first. Chase Headley came to the plate, and Pomeranz threw him a fastball belt-high on the inside corner. Headley was very clearly sitting fastball and turned it right around, sending it to the seats in left field for a no-doubt home run to put his team up 1-0. Things got shaky after that, too, as the Red Sox lefty allowed a little two out rally starting with a single and a walk. With two on, a Brett Gardner grounder to third looked like it’d end the inning, but Devers made a mental mistake and took his time getting the ball to first. It was a bad rookie mistake with a speedy runner at the plate, and it loaded the bases against Pomeranz. Fortunately, Lin made another nice play in the next at bat to end the inning with just a 1-0 deficit.
From there, Pomeranz settled down over the next few innings and allowed just two hits to get through five innings with the 1-0 deficit. His control seemed a bit off all day and he threw a lot of pitches, but he got out of the fifth with his pitch count a little under the century mark.
So, now we head to the top of the sixth and Eduardo Nuñez led things off with a double, giving the Red Sox a prime chance to at least tie the game. He’d move over to third on a groundout from Benintendi, and with Mookie Betts at the plate Tanaka threw a pitch in the dirt. Sanchez couldn’t block it -- it was a tough pitch to block, to be fair — and Nuñez read it perfectly. He’d come in to score and tie the game at one. They would get another runner on a Betts walk, but only scored the one run in the inning.
In the bottom half of the sixth, with Pomeranz getting up towards 100 pitches, it seemed like a good time to have him on a short leash. John Farrell had Brandon Workman warming up, and Didi Gregorius was leading off for New York. With Chase Headley and Matt Holliday following him -- one hitter who was having a big day against Pomeranz and one righty who hits lefties very well -- it seemed like it should be a one-batter inning for Pomeranz. He walked Gregorius, but Farrell left him in. Predictably, it did not go well. Headley hit a single to put runners on the corners and Holliday destroyed a middle-middle fastball to give the Yankees a 4-1 lead. With the Red Sox having bigger bullpen than usual thanks to expanded rosters, sticking with Pomeranz really made no sense to me. His day ended after striking out Greg Bird, and Brandon Workman came in to finish things off.
After the Red Sox failed to score in the top half of the seventh, Workman came back out for the bottom half and gave up a leadoff triple to Jacoby Ellsbury. Sanchez came up next and hit a weak grounder to the left side that split Devers and Nuñez, both of whom were playing in. It deflected off a diving Devers and allowed Ellsbury to score. He’d strike out Aaron Judge before being relieved by Fernando Abad. The lefty would finish the frame with New York still up 5-1. Austin Maddox was called upon for the eighth and threw an impressive 1-2-3 frame that included a strikeout of Greg Bird. Meanwhile, the Red Sox couldn’t score off David Robertson in the eighth nor Dellin Betances in the ninth.
Well, the Red Sox couldn’t build off that momentum in what was a frustrating game for the offense. The pitching from Pomeranz could have been better, but it’s obviously hard to win when you only score one run. #Analysis. Either way, the Yankees now climb within 4.5 with the victory. The Red Sox will look to get that lead back to 5.5 and manage a split in the Bronx on Sunday night with Chris Sale going up against Luis Severino in a battle of aces.