There’s really not a whole lot to say about this one. The Red Sox offense was totally shut down by J.A. Happ and company on Saturday afternoon, being kept off the scoreboard until there were two outs in the ninth and barely even threatening throughout the game. It turned out the pitching wouldn’t even matter, but overall the bullpen was solid again in a second straight bullpen game. They did give up four runs, but they all came in one inning and were largely due to bad defense from J.D. Martinez. It was a bad day at the park.
On Friday night, the bullpen game went as smoothly as possible for the Red Sox as they took a five-run victory over the Yankees. That one was out of necessity, with David Price being scratched from his scheduled start and the team was left scrambling. The plan for Saturday, though, had been to go with a bullpen game all along. It’s harder to make it work for a second time in a row, mostly because so many of the relievers were used the day before. In this specific case, it’s simply hard to shut the Yankees lineup down two days in a row regardless of circumstance.
Early on in this game, though, the pitching was outstanding yet again. Travis Lakins was playing the role of Jhoulys Chacín, which is to say he was the first pitcher used. He was trying to duplicate the two scoreless inning performance, and he did it almost exactly the same. The righty retired all six batters he faced with three of them striking out. Bobby Poyner would then come in for a perfect third inning to make it nine up and nine down for Red Sox pitchers.
Now, the Red Sox offense just had to do its job against J.A. Happ, a guy who has pitched very well against them in the past but not quite as consistently of late. Well, this game was a bit of a throwback as Boston had nothing going. Mookie Betts did start the first inning off with a solid single, but an inning-ending double play ensured Happ would face the minimum in the inning. The Sox would then go down in order in each of the next two innings.
That brought us to the top of the fourth, where things took a turn for disaster for the Red Sox. Ryan Weber would come on for Boston, and he quickly gave up a leadoff single before coming back with a strikeout. Now, this is where I mention that J.D. Martinez was in the field today. I mention that because, well, Didi Gregorius hit a line drive to Martinez in the next at bat and the Red Sox slugger completely lost it in the sun. It ended up going by him and gave the Yankees runners on second and third with one out.
Colten Brewer then came on to pitch, and Martinez made another mistake in the field. Gary Sánchez hit a pop up to no-man’s land down the right field line. It was clearly Martinez’ ball, and clearly a ball most outfielders — never mind Mookie Betts — gets to. Instead, Martinez pulled up and Brock Holt couldn’t get there. The ball landed in fair territory and bounced into the seats for a two-run groundrule double. Edwin Encarnación then came up and hit a hanging breaking ball to the moon, and the Yankees had a 4-0 lead.
The Red Sox couldn’t answer back in the bottom of the inning, with the only damage being a Xander Bogaerts single. It was, however, the 1000th of his career. After Trevor Kelley worked around two walks in the fifth and Boston went down in order again in the bottom of the inning, the Yankees threatened again in the sixth.
Hector Velázquez got the call for this inning, and he did not look great. Gleyber Torres started things off with a double to the right field corner and then Brett Gardner drew a walk. After a big strikeout, Velázquez issued another walk to load the bases for DJ LeMahieu. It looked like this was going to be the breaking point, but Rafael Devers started a huge 5-4-3 double play, ending the inning and keeping things in reach.
Unfortunately, the Red Sox just never got anything going with the bats. They got just a two-out walk in the bottom of the sixth before going down in order in the seventh. On the other side, the Red Sox got scoreless innings from Josh Smith and Mike Shawaryn.
As we moved to the bottom of the eighth, the Red Sox showed a little bit of life. After a quick first out, Mitch Moreland and pinch hitter Marco Hernández came through with back-to-back singles. For the first time all day, Boston had two runners on base. Brock Holt would then go down looking, leaving it up to Betts as they tried not to squander the chance. He hit it well on a line, but it hung up for Aaron Judge and the Red Sox remained at zero runs for the day.
After Shawaryn came back in and allowed a run in the top of the ninth, the Red Sox had one more chance for a miracle comeback. They did get a solo homer from Martinez, but it wasn’t nearly enough and it goes into the loss column.
The Red Sox will look to bounce back from this one on Sunday Night Baseball. Boston will send Rick Porcello to the mound while the Yankees have Masahiro Tanaka getting the start. First pitch is set for 8:00 PM ET.