That was brutal. It was a roller coaster of a game that ended in terrible fashion. It started with the Red Sox doing a little damage, but not enough, against Masahiro Tanaka who didn’t quite have it tonight. Rick Porcello also did not have it for the first time in 2018, and the Yankees took advantage in a barrage led by Brett Gardner of all people. The game stayed close throughout, though, and they eventually took the lead on a clutch home run from a struggling Hanley Ramirez. It didn’t matter, as the bullpen couldn’t come through after the offense blew a huge opportunity for insurance runs. Craig Kimbrel was put in a tough situation and he didn’t finish it off. The Red Sox are now one game away from being swept in this series.
Porcello wasn’t as sharp as we’ve grown accustomed to in the early parts of this season. All year long his command has been impeccable, hitting his spots with all of his pitches in all situations, but it wasn’t the case in this one. He did certainly have some pitches here and there where he executed perfectly, but it was much more inconsistent than the Red Sox would have wanted. He also seemed to lose some confidence in his four-seam fastball at times, which is a big deal because he uses that pitch up in the zone as one of his major strikeout offerings.
Things got off to a rough start pretty much immediately for Porcello, too. Brett Gardner led things off with a hard-hit double that slammed off the wall in right-center field, which is not great considering that Gardner had been one of the worst regulars in all of baseball heading into this series. He was immediately brought in with an Aaron Judge single. That gave the Yankees a quick 1-0 lead, as the Red Sox had gone down 1-2-3 in the first. Porcello would get out of it after that with a strikeout and a double play, which brought on some confidence for a short while.
The Red Sox, meanwhile, were going up against Masahiro Tanaka, who was also not sharp. Even in that aforementioned 1-2-3 first, the Red Sox made him work with a 21-pitch inning that included an 11-pitch at bat from Mookie Betts to kick things off. They came back in the second and got to him this time around. After a quick first out Xander Bogaerts came through with a single to bring Mitch Moreland to the plate. The first baseman made the most of his start in his first at bat, taking a slider down in the zone and putting it over the fence in right-center field. 2-1 Red Sox. Boston would get a couple more baserunners on a pair of singles from the bottom of the order, but Betts stranded them.
Porcello did get the needed shutdown inning in the bottom half, but it wasn’t exactly pretty. He walked his first batter of the inning and allowed an infield single on what was a fairly well-hit grounder. A stolen base put runners on the corners, but they were stranded.
The top of the third would represent what felt like a real missed opportunity for the Red Sox. It appeared that they sort of had Tanaka on the ropes at this point after a long first two innings that resulted in a lead for them and the meat of the order coming up for the third. Things started well when Andrew Benintendi led off with a walk, but then Hanley Ramirez followed that up with a quick double play. Not a great turn of events, particularly when it was followed with a Bogaerts single and a J.D. Martinez walk. They’d both be stranded and the Red Sox got nothing in the inning despite three runners reaching base.
It immediately felt even worse, too, because Porcello struggled again in the bottom half. Once again Gardner kicked things off with a double, and after a walk and a groundout there were two in scoring position for Giancarlo Stanton. The slugger came through again, this time keeping the ball in the yard but smashing a two-run double. 3-2 Yankees. They’d get one more on a single followed by a sacrifice fly, putting them up by two. Porcello wasn’t looking great, but it honestly felt like a win that the Red Sox were still only down two at this point.
After a quick fourth inning on both sides, Benintendi came back up with one out in the fifth. Tanaka threw him an awful hanging slider middle-in, and the Red Sox left fielder smashed it out to right field for a solo home run to continue his strong run in this park. 4-3 Yankees.
This time, Porcello could not come through with the shutdown inning to keep the deficit at one. Once again, it was the middle of the Yankees lineup who killed him, which is not surprising because they are very good at hitting. It was also, fortunately, another situation that seemed as if it should have been worse. They immediately loaded the bases on an error, a walk and a hit by pitch, and it seemed as if Porcello was about to implode. Instead, he gave up a sacrifice fly to Gary Sanchez to give up one, but then got a ground out and a fly out to end the inning with just a two-run deficit for his team.
The Red Sox, again, chipped away a bit in the sixth. It was Bogaerts doing some damage again, this time blasting a leadoff double for his third hit of the game. He’d move 90 feet away from scoring on a groundout, and then Eduardo Núñez came through with a deep fly ball to give Boston a run and cut the deficit down to one.
Porcello would then come back out for the bottom of the Yankees order, but after recording an out and allowing a single he was taken out. It was not a sharp night, and he ended things with 5 1⁄3 innings of work allowing five runs, on eight hits, three walks and three strikeouts. Brian Johnson came in after that for Gardner and got a fielder’s choice to bring up Judge with a runner on first and two outs. Somewhat surprisingly, Alex Cora stuck with the lefty in this spot, but it worked out. Judge flew out and the inning was over.
The seventh brought some fireworks with a little two-out rally. It started with a Benintendi walk to bring up the struggling Ramirez. Well, he didn’t struggle in this at bat. Going up against Chad Green — one of the better relievers in the league — he got a hanging slider and did not miss it. Instead, he sent it to the second deck in left field to give Boston the lead. 6-5 Red Sox.
That left things up to the bullpen, and Johnson came back on to face Gregorius to start things. He got a line out, and that was it for him with a bunch of scary righties coming up. Carson Smith got that challenge, and started off on the right foot by getting a ground out from Stanton. Sanchez would reach on a single, but Smith came back with a big strikeout against Hicks to end the inning unscathed.
The Red Sox appeared poised to add some insurance in the top half of the eighth after Moreland started things off with a walk and Núñez followed it up with a double. That put two in scoring position with nobody out, but they got nothing. Devers and Christian Vazquez struck out, and after Betts was intentionally walked, Benintendi grounded out to end the chance. It was, in hindsight of course but even at the time, a horrendous blown opportunity.
That brought on Matt Barnes to start the eighth to protect a one-run lead. It did not get off to a great start with Neil Walker smacking a leadoff double. He’d move over to third on a ground out before Barnes issued a walk to the next batter he faced. With runners on the corners, Cora had seen enough and turned to his closer.
Craig Kimbrel came in to face the top of the order, and he immediately gave up the lead. It was Gardner once again, crushing a triple out to center field to score both runs and give the Yankees a 7-6 lead with a chance to do more. It only got worse from there when Judge hit a two-run shot out to straightaway center field and all of a sudden it was a three-run lead for New York.
The Red Sox will look to avoid the sweep on Thursday night with Eduardo Rodriguez taking the mound against CC Sabathia. First pitch is at 7:05 PM ET.