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Red Sox 2, Yankees 3: Drew Pomeranz hangs tough, but Sox can’t pull through

A tough way to start the series

Boston Red Sox v New York Yankees Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

This was a strange game that always felt like it was the Yankees to win. It felt that way before the game started looking at the pitching matchup, and it felt that way through most of the contest. Luis Severino was dominant for the Yankees and the Red Sox hitters really had no hitters for them. Fortunately, they were kept in the game all night long thanks to an impressively gutty performance from Drew Pomeranz, pitching with half a fingernail. It wasn’t enough — he was done in by a pair of solo homers from Giancarlo Stanton — but the Red Sox did get a late tie before relinquishing the lead right back. Not the start they wanted from this series, but there are two more to make up for it.

Both of the starting pitchers had good days, but they came in entirely different fashions. For Luis Severino, it was pure dominance. The Yankees ace was electric, obviously showcasing his consistent 98+ mph fastball more than anything else. His secondaries elevate him to the next level, though, and his slider was the weapon of choice early on. The sweeping breaking ball can look like the fastball right out of his hand when everything is going well before sharply breaking down and away from righties and in on lefties. It was making Red Sox hitters look silly all night. Later on, as Boston started to settle in against him a little bit, he started to show more confidence in his changeup and it worked out. There were a couple of at bats in which Red Sox hitters got into favorable counts and were sitting dead red on Severino’s heat, but the righty was throwing changeups and it worked every time. When he has confidence in all three pitches, he’s tough to beat.

As a result, it was a rough go for Boston hitters for much of the early parts of this game. They did get a baserunner in the first on a Yankees error, but he didn’t make it beyond first base. In the second, Eduardo Núñez came through with a two-out double, but he’d be stranded at second. In the third, they got a leadoff single from Christian Vazquez, but he tried to stretch it into a double but was thrown out on a perfect throw from Aaron Judge. It probably wasn’t a terrible choice as it took a perfect throw to get him, but it’s still not a risk I liked to see with the top of the order coming up. They followed that up by stranding J.D. Martinez at second in the fourth after he hit a one-out double.

On the other side of things, while this was going on, Pomeranz was having a strangely effective outing. There weren’t many points in which many of us felt good about the lefty being on the mound, but he undeniably got the job done more often than not. He came out of the gate throwing 87-88 with the fastball, which was not a good sign, but he still got through a 1-2-3 inning.

MLB: Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The second inning was where things got really weird for Pomeranz, and it is also where the Yankees took their lead. Stanton led things off, and after being peppered with high fastballs all at bat — the same strategy that was used against him the first time these two teams played — he got one that was a bit too low at 90 mph and he hit an absolute laser to left field. It didn’t make it too deep into the bleachers, but it was absolutely ripped for a solo home run.

After that, Pomeranz walked the next two batters he faced. During the second walk, he asked to see a trainer and the cameras were kind enough to zoom in on a mangled fingernail covered with blood. I have no idea how it happened, but I super wish I had never seen it. After he finished off that second walk, it seemed as if it might be a short outing for the lefty. Instead, he came back with two strikeouts and a pop out to get out of the inning with just the one run allowed.

Pomeranz would then get through an easy 1-2-3 third before having to face Stanton again to lead off the fourth. Once again, he was served a healthy heaping of high fastballs, and this time he took out on the outer half and blasted it out to right field for his second homer of the game and the Yankees’ second hit of the game. It put them up 2-0.

That was the score heading into the top of the fifth, when the Red Sox finally made some noise against Severino. This inning, oddly enough, actually started with three straight strikeouts, but the first one included a wild pitch for strike three that allowed Núñez to reach. Once the top of the order came up, Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi hit back-to-back singles and Boston had one on the board, and thanks to a little bad defense from New York they had two in scoring position. Hanley Ramirez came up next and drew a 3-0 count, but Severino worked his way back using those changeups I talked about at the top of this post. Ramirez would ground out, and the runners were stranded.

After a couple of quick half-innings, Pomeranz somewhat surprisingly came back out for the top of the seventh against the heart of the Yankees order, including Stanton. It seemed like an ill-advised choice by Alex Cora, but it worked out as he allowed just one baserunner on an error by Rafael Devers. That inning would mark the end of a surprisingly solid outing for the lefty. He ended up lasting six innings allowing just the two runs on four hits and two walks with six strikeouts. It’ll certainly do.

That final inning of work from Pomeranz? Yeah, that proved to be pretty big because the Red Sox got things going again in the seventh. Severino started the inning and Núñez kicked things off with an impressive at bat that ended with an infield single. After a couple of quick outs with David Robertson now on the mound from Jackie Bradley Jr. and Christian Vazquez — with Mitch Moreland strangely staying on the bench — Betts came up and he came through. The star hit a ball into left field that Brett Gardner couldn’t reach. It got by Gardner and Betts was in with an RBI triple to tie the game. He’d be stranded there, but the damage was done.

That brought us to the bottom of the seventh against the bottom of the order and Heath Hembree got the call out of the bullpen. He did not get the job done, to say the least. After a quick first out, the righty allowed a double and a walk before balking during the next at bat. It didn’t turn out to matter much, as Hembree walked the next batter as well to load the bases with just one out and Aaron Judge coming to the plate.

That brought on Joe Kelly in a high-leverage, high-drama spot against the heart of New York’s lineup. Kelly threw a 1-1 slider that caught just a bit too much of the zone and Judge ripped it on a line through the left side for a single. The Yankees only got one, though, as Benintendi made a perfect throw to the plate to cut down Gleyber Torres. Kelly would get Didi Gregorius after that to limit the damage to just one run.

That gave the Red Sox six more outs to try and come back from another one-run deficit, and they had their 3/4/5 hitters coming up for the eighth. They got a leadoff single from Ramirez, but Martinez lined out on a ball he scorched but was caught on a nice play by Aaron Hicks and Bogaerts grounded into an inning-ending double play.

After the Yankees went scoreless in the bottom half — despite threatening before costing themselves with a baserunning mistake by Stanton — the Sox had one last chance against Aroldis Chapman. They did get one runner when Bradley was hit by a pitch, but that was it as the Yankees closer finished it off and held the one-run lead. There will be questions about why Cora didn’t use Moreland in the ninth for either Bradley or Vazquez, and, well, it’s a valid question. Moreland spending this entire game on the bench was a clear mistake by the manager. Either way, it was a loss and the division is now tied.

The Red Sox will look to get back into the win column on Wednesday in game two of this series. They’ll send Rick Porcello to the mound to take on Masahiro Tanaka. First pitch is at 7:05 PM ET.


Courtesy of Fangraphs