MLB’s introduction to Europe was...interesting. The Brits got to see an absolutely absurd game for the first game to be played on their continent. The Yankees appeared to be on the winning end of a blowout just one half-inning into the game, scoring six runs and knocking Rick Porcello out of the game with just one out under his belt. The Red Sox had other ideas, though, scoring six runs of their own and knocking out Masahiro Tanaka after just two outs were recorded. From there, the Yankees jumped back out and eventually held an 11-run lead. The Red Sox did manage to come back again and got the tying run at the plate as late as the eighth, but they couldn’t make it all the way back and New York won the first ever game in London.
There was a lot of hype around this two-game series between the Red Sox and Yankees, what with it being the first time major-league teams have travelled to Europe to play baseball. There was so much hype, in fact, that it kind of seemed easy to forget that these games actually matter. Crazy, huh? The Yankees have done their damndest to run away with the American League East despite a rash of injuries to some of their biggest stars, and if the Red Sox wanted any chance at making a comeback in the division they were going to need a strong showing in this overseas series. Unfortunately, when they packed up their luxurious plane to fly across the pond, they forgot to pack the pitching.
The first inning of this game was absolutely bonkers and about as exciting an introduction to the sport the league could have imagined in this first-ever game in England. Rick Porcello was on the mound to start for the Red Sox, and he was absolutely dreadful. His stuff wasn’t great, but it’s never really over-the-top outstanding. He needs command to succeed, and he had none of it in this outing. New York started the game with a single, a fly out and a walk to put two on with one out. After that, Luke Voit, Didi Gregorius and Edwin Encarnación hit three consecutive doubles to put the Yankees up 4-0 with only one out having been recorded. That brought Aaron Hicks to the plate. Porcello got to a 2-2 count against the Yankees center fielder but then left a changeup right over the heart of the plate. Hicks blasted it out to right-center field, and just like that New York had a 6-0 lead and Porcello’s night was over with just one out on the board. Not great!
Colten Brewer came on next and got out of the inning without any more damage being done. After that, it was the Red Sox turn against Masahiro Tanaka. It seemed like the game was over pretty much when it started, but that feeling wouldn’t last too long. The Red Sox bucked their season-long trend of brutal first innings, and that started with Mookie Betts leading off with a base hit. Rafael Devers was in the two-hole today despite Andrew Benintendi being back in the lineup, and it worked out as the third baseman ripped a double to drive in Betts.
After that, Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez both drew walks to load the bases. It appeared the Sox were poised to squander this chance to cut further into the lead when Benintendi popped up and Christian Vázquez drove in one more on a sacrifice fly. Then, Brock Holt kept the inning going with a big base hit to cut the deficit down to three, and Michael Chavis came up with two on. He got a 2-2 count against Tanaka, but then the Yankees started hung a slider and Chavis jumped all over it. He blasted it way over the short center field fence, and the game was somehow tied at six in the first. That ended Tanaka’s night, and the two starters combined to record only three outs in this game.
That was still the score after Steven Wright tossed a scoreless top of the second, and the Red Sox had a chance to get the lead in the bottom of the second. Devers led off that inning with his second double of the game, and with one out a Martinez base hit put runners on the corners. With the way the game was going, it seemed big for the Red Sox to cash in here, but they could not. Benintendi continued what was a really rough day with a big strikeout, and Vázquez hit a routine grounder to shortstop to squander the chance.
Unfortunately, the Yankees didn’t wait a long time to make the Red Sox to regret that. In the top of the third, Wright was still in the game and he got two quick outs to start off the frame. It seemed like he might settled into a groove, but Gleyber Torres kept the inning going with a base hit. That brought Brett Gardner to the plate, and the veteran demolished a knuckleball that stayed up in the zone, putting it over the right field wall and putting his team back up two.
In the fourth, the game turned into a laugher. Mike Shawaryn came on to pitch in that inning, and he had absolutely nothing on the mound. The rookie gave up a double to Luke Voit with the first pitch he threw and followed that up with a walk to Gregorius. After getting a couple outs, the Yankees decided to start mashing. The got a single to load the bases then scored one on a walk. After that, it was a double and an Aaron Judge home run, and just like that six more runs were on the board and the Red Sox were suddenly trailing by eight. New York would go on to add two more against Shawaryn in the fifth before Josh Taylor came on to allow another one, making it 17-6 after the top of the fifth.
From here, we fast-forward to the bottom half of the seventh. The Red Sox got a run on a solo homer from Jackie Bradley Jr. in the sixth, and then more weirdness ensued in the seventh. After two quick outs to start the inning, Boston got two straight singles ahead of Chavis. Then, the rookie did it again, smashing his second three-run homer of the game to get the Red Sox to within seven. After that, the Red Sox got a single and a walk before a wild pitch preceded an RBI single from Marco Hernandez. Bogaerts then drew a bases loaded walk before Martinez came through with an RBI double. That was all the Red Sox would get in the inning as Sam Travis popped out to end the inning, but somehow Boston was back within four. The bad news is that Bogaerts came up limping on the Martinez RBI double, and while he stayed in to run after that play he was removed in the next inning with Eduardo Núñez playing at shortstop.
After Hector Velázquez tossed his second consecutive scoreless inning, the Red Sox were back up looking to cut further into the Yankees’ lead. They ended up loading the bases and had Marco Hernandez up representing the tying run, but he grounded out to end the chance. Marcus Walden then came out for a scoreless ninth, giving Boston one more chance to score at least four runs. They couldn’t do it, managing just a single but nothing more as the game finally ended almost five hours after it started. Hell of an introduction to baseball, though.
The Red Sox and Yankees have one more game in London to be played on Sunday. It will be some morning baseball for those of us back in the States, too, with the first pitch scheduled for 10:00 AM ET. Boston will have Eduardo Rodriguez on the mound while the Yankees will go with a bullpen game.