There’s really not a whole lot to say at this point. Everyone knew this bullpen was going to be an issue coming into the season, and the Red Sox did nothing about it. The unit was solid for a bit earlier in the year, but they’ve been disastrous of late and embarrassed themselves on a big stage Sunday afternoon in London. Leading by two heading into the seventh, Marcus Walden, Matt Barnes and Josh Taylor combined to allow nine runs and turn a possible win into a blowout loss in the blink of an eye. It’s frustrating, embarrassing, and frankly infuriating. They did get the tying run at the plate in the eighth for the second straight game, but that was as close as they’d get.
For the second and final game of this London series between the Red Sox and Yankees, the safe assumption was that a whole lot of runs were going to be scored. They were playing in a tiny stadium, the ball has been flying all year and was doing so on Saturday, they scored a whopping 30 runs the night before and the pitching didn’t exactly appear all that intimidating. That’s all without even mentioning all of the talent in both of these lineups. All of the signs were pointing towards this being another slugfest, even if it wasn’t going to be quite as explosive as Saturday’s absurd game.
Early on, it was appearing any and all predictions for a high-scoring affair were going to come true. Well, after the top of the first, that is. Eduardo Rodriguez had a strong start to his game, giving up a single to Aaron Hicks but nothing more in a quick opening frame.
In the bottom of the inning, though, the Red Sox offense unloaded on Yankees starter Stephen Tarpley. Boston has struggled all year in the first inning, but apparently they just needed to get on a different continent to change that trend. After scoring six in the bottom of the first on Saturday, they got started on Sunday with an innocent, one-out bloop single from Rafael Devers. Then, the bats started to explode. Xander Bogaerts went the other way to barely clear the close-in fence out in right field. Just like that, it was a 2-0 lead for the Red Sox. Then, J.D. Martinez hit one that was a bit more convincing out to right-center field for back-to-back homers. After the second out of the inning was recorded, Christian Vázquez did the same thing. He hit Boston’s third opposite-field homer of the inning, and the Red Sox had a 4-0 lead after one. They’d also scored ten runs combined over the two first innings in London.
With his team now holding a lead, Rodriguez came back out in the second looking for another strong inning to keep momentum on Boston’s side. It didn’t work out. As has always been far too common for the lefty, he was nibbling a lot around the edges of the zone and missed on too many. As a result, he issued a walk, then allowed an infield single before issuing a second walk to load the bases with nobody out. It was exactly what the Red Sox did not need. After the bases were filled up, it appeared Gio Urshela had hit a double play ball to shortstop. That didn’t really work out as Bogaerts’ flip to second was way short and Boston got just one out while New York scored a run. Brett Gardner was up next and he ripped one at Eduardo Núñez, who was playing second. It was not a routine play and it took a hell of a hop, but most second basemen at least knock the ball down. Núñez, however, had it eat him up and get by him for a base hit to give New York a second run. With two outs, Rodriguez loaded the bases again on his third walk of the inning, but he got Aaron Hicks to chase a high fastball for strike three and get out of the inning leading 4-2.
So, there were the fireworks we expected very early, but from there the pitching took over and things started to normalize. Luis Cessa came in for New York and put a stop to Boston’s offense. They did get a two-out double from Martinez in the third, and on the fourth Jackie Bradley Jr. made it to second on a botched rundown by the Yankees, but the Red Sox didn’t score against Cessa over four innings.
Meanwhile, Rodriguez began to settle down in a big way after his tortuous second inning. He started his third with a walk, but then allowed nothing more in that inning. After that, he tossed a 1-2-3 fourth and allowed just a single in the fifth. Still, he was up to 108 pitches at that point but still came on for the sixth. There, he struck out Didi Gregorius and that was the end of his day. It wasn’t always perfect, but it ended up being a solid outing for the lefty who allowed the two runs over 5 1⁄3 innings with five strikeouts, though he did walk four and allow four hits. Colten Brewer then came on to finish the inning, allowing a walk but otherwise keeping the Yankees out of action.
After the Red Sox were held scoreless again in the bottom of the sixth, Marcus Walden came on for the seventh. Things did not get off to a good start with DJ LeMahieu, who was held hitless to this point, led things off with a double. That was followed up with a walk to Aaron Judge, putting the tying run on base with nobody out. Aaron Hicks kept things going with a double of his own, bringing the Yankees to within one with a pair in scoring position and still nobody out. That opportunity was presented to Gary Sánchez, who ripped a base hit into left field. The hit scored two, and in the blink of an eye the Red Sox bullpen blew another lead. The Yankees were now up 5-4 and Matt Barnes was coming in.
The righty came in with a runner and still no outs on the board, and Barnes walked the first batter he faced. After finally getting the first out of the inning, he then got Gleyber Torres to hit a weak pop up out to right field. Unfortunately, it found no man’s land and New York had the bases loaded with just one out. Gio Urshela was up next and he hit a single into center field, scoring two more and ending Barnes’ night.
From here, it was Josh Taylor coming in. He walked the first batter he faced before LeMahieu hit his second double of the inning. The Red Sox were lucky it bounced over the fence for a ground-rule double as it would have cleared the bases. Instead, it only scored two. An intentional walk would again load the bases and the Yankees got another on a sacrifice fly and another when a grounder went right through the legs of Michael Chavis at first. At the start of the seventh the Red Sox were up two. By the time the bottom of the inning started, they were down seven. Just utterly and abjectly embarrassing.
In the bottom of the eighth, the Red Sox did get a little going down 12-4. Marco Hernandez and Martinez got things started with back-to-back singles, and after a wild pitch moved both runners up Vázquez knocked in two with a bloop single. A couple batters later, Eduardo Núñez knocked in another with a double, and Sam Travis would then drive in one more with a single. Suddenly, Boston was only down four with two on and two out for Mookie Betts. He would draw a walk, and the bases were loaded with Devers coming to the plate representing the tying run. The third baseman got up 3-0 in the count, but he eventually grounded out to first base to end the inning and the thread with the Yankees up 12-8.
After Steven Wright tossed a 1-2-3 ninth, the Red Sox had one more chance. They did get off to the kind of start they were looking for with Hernandez ripping a leadoff double down the first base line. Unfortunately, they couldn’t build off that and Aroldis Chapman struck out the next three batters to end the game and the series.
The Red Sox have a day off on Monday to try and get over this brutal weekend. They’ll head to Toronto to take on the Blue Jays for a three-game set starting Tuesday. That first game will have David Price taking on Trent Thornton.