This was not the way the Red Sox wanted to start this series. CC Sabathia was able to stymie Boston’s lineup all night long as he’s done so often the last couple of years, and Eduardo Rodriguez showed off all of the things that make him frustrating in a disappointing outing. They have two games to make up for this one and a win tomorrow will erase this rough night pretty quickly, but there’s not much positivity to take away from this game.
Where do we start? The pitcher who showed off the most frustrating aspects of his game all at once? Or the offense who struggled in frustrating fashion against a pitcher who always frustrates them? I guess we’ll start with the offense. The Red Sox were able to get to Sabathia for four runs over four innings back in May, so there was some reason for optimism here. That didn’t last long. Once again, they struggled to make consistently solid contact against the southpaw’s offspeed-heavy repertoire, and when they were able to get runners on base they didn’t do a good job of building the momentum.
In the first they couldn’t manage any of the baserunners as the top of the order went down 1-2-3. The second started promising with Steve Pearce making a good first impression with his new team. Against the first pitch he saw in a Red Sox uniform he put a grounder down the third base line for a leadoff double. He would move over to third on a fly out, but he was stranded 90 feet from the plate after a pop out and a line out.
The Red Sox got another runner in scoring position in the second when Mookie Betts hit a two-out infield single on a soft roller that somehow stayed fair all the way up the third base line. He would then steal second, and after an Andrew Benintendi walk J.D. Martinez had a chance with two on and two out with his team trailing 1-0. He couldn’t come through, instead hitting a routine fly ball to end the inning. The fourth was similarly frustrating as they got a leadoff single — against from Pearce — but he was quickly eliminated on a double play. Boston would get another single in the inning, but nothing more.
Meanwhile, Rodriguez was doing what Rodriguez does, well, worst. That is to say that he was nibbling after going up early in a count and he was throwing strictly fastballs and cutters, avoiding his changeup like the plague. It’s unclear whether this was a gameplan or not, but it’s worth mentioning that the lefty was shaking off a lot of pitches throughout this game. Either way, it didn’t work. He made it through the early portions without allowing too much damage, but it was always going to catch up to him at some point.
The first inning was probably the best for Rodriguez of the night, which makes sense because at that point the Yankees were not yet aware that they did not have to worry about the changeup in this game. They did manage a walk in the inning, but that was all.
The second was much worse as Gleyber Torres started things off by smashing a flyball off the wall in center field for a leadoff triple. With a runner on third and nobody out, Alex Cora decided to play aggressively and called the infield in. That proved to be a mistake as Miguel Andújar hit a little pop up in shallow right field that fell in between everyone. The Yankees got a run on the board, thought Rodriguez did come back with a strikeout and a double play to keep the damage to just one run.
After Rodriguez managed a 1-2-3 inning in the third, the wheels fell off in the fourth. That inning started with a walk in an at bat that started with two strikes, and Didi Gregorius immediately followed that with a double to put two runners in scoring position with nobody out. Torres drove in one run with a sacrifice fly, and while it wasn’t ideal if Rodriguez could hold it to just one run things wouldn’t be too bad. Instead, he let a cutter catch too much of the zone for a two-run homer from Andújar, and Greg Bird followed that up with a solo shot of his own. Just like that, the game was broken up and the Yankees had a 5-0 lead. Rodriguez would get out of the inning from there, but the damage was done.
So the Red Sox headed into the fifth looking to get a couple of those runs back and at least chip away at the lead. After a couple of quick outs, Betts and Benintendi hit back-to-back doubles and Boston had a run on the board. The Yankees lead was down to four and Martinez came up with a runner in scoring position. Once again, however, he failed to come through as he popped out to end the inning. That would turn out to be a blip on the radar as they went down with relative ease in the sixth and seventh against Sabathia.
Boston would finally get to the Yankees bullpen in the eighth, but things didn’t go much better as they were set down in order by Chad Green in the eighth and then Chasen Shreve ended things with a 1-2-3 ninth.
On the pitching side, Rodriguez did come back out for a 1-2-3 sixth, but that would do it for him in what was ultimately a disappointing outing. Justin Haley came on with the Red Sox trailing 5-1 in the seventh. He’d allow a two-run home run to Aaron Judge, his former college teammate, and New York had their lead extended to six. He came back out for the eighth and allowed a solo shot to Bird, the first baseman’s second dinger of the night.
So, the Red Sox will look to put this one behind them in short order Saturday night in New York. The good news is that they have Chris Sale on the mound to do it as the Yankees counter with Sonny Gray. First pitch will be at 7:15 PM ET.