You know the drill by now. Eduardo Rodriguez was good, but he’s taken over for Chris Sale as the team’s best pitcher (on a temporary basis, almost certainly). That means the offense did, well, absolutely nothing. The bullpen also had a rough night with Darwinzon Hernandez getting hit hard. The good news is that, before the game, David Ortiz was back and threw out the first pitch. That was neat.
We all know how things have gone for Chris Sale in terms of run support over his Red Sox career. It’s a strange phenomenon — there’s some explanation, but it’s mostly just weirdly bad luck — where the offense just never seems to score runs for their best pitcher. At this point basically every baseball fan knows not to take win-loss record seriously for an individual pitcher, but that doesn’t make this particular trend any less frustrating for the pitcher or the fan.
Well, Sale wasn’t really himself this year and now he’s shut down for the year, meaning his mantle is up for grabs. One would think that’s a good thing, becoming the de facto ace of the staff even in a meaningless stretch run. Eduardo Rodriguez learned on Monday night it’s not all fun and games when you’re the best pitcher on the Red Sox.
The lefty has undeniably come into his own this year, and while his overall numbers still don’t look all that eye-opening A) the run environment this season is bananapants and B) the way he’s pitched has been markedly improved. He’s been more aggressive more often, is utilizing his whole repertoire on a more consistent basis and just generally getting deeper into games. He’s also generally been weirdly effective against the Yankees in his entire career, and that carried over into Monday’s game.
With the narrative around the team being taken over by the firing of Dave Dombrowski immediately following Sunday’s game, it had to be weird taking the field for this one. You wouldn’t know it by watching Rodriguez, though, because he cruised through most of this one. He did give up a double in the first inning, but also struck out two and didn’t allow any runs. The lefty then tossed a perfect second before issuing just a walk in the third.
The Yankees did threaten for the first time in the third when Edwin Encarnación started a rally with an infield single to Xander Bogaerts at shortstop. Luke Voit then followed that up with a rocket to left-center field for a double that put a pair in scoring position with just one out. It looked like the shutout was going to end, but Brett Gardner hit a ground ball to third base and for some reason the Yankees had the contact play on. It was a curious decision with the not-so-fleet-of-foot Encarnación at third, and Rafael Devers threw a strike to cut him down for the second out. In the end, the Yankees would squander the scoring chance.
Unfortunately, Rodriguez took over the mantle for Sale, which meant the offense was not going to give him any support. To be fair to them, they were facing James Paxton, a guy who has had his struggles this year but is wildly talented and has turned it around of late. He kept things turned around in this one, too, as the Red Sox may have had even more trouble than the Yankee bats.
They did get a runner into scoring position in the bottom of the first on a Devers single followed by a passed ball, but the run wouldn’t cross the plate. After going down in order in the second, they got a pair on in the third when Jackie Bradley Jr. doubled and Devers drew a one-out walk, but both runners would be stranded.
As we headed into the top of the fifth, the score was still knotted at zero with both pitchers looking outstanding. Rodriguez continued that by starting the frame off with a strikeout, but then Austin Romine stepped to the plate. He got a 2-0 fastball that caught a lot of the plate and put it down the right field line for a solo homer, breaking the tie and giving the Yankees a 1-0 lead.
To his credit, Rodriguez did come back strong after this and eventually made it through six innings in the game, but he still left with his team trailing.
The offense would continue to struggle, and Darwinzon Hernandez entered the game in the seventh. The southpaw has opened eyes with his performance in relief in this second half, but tonight he just didn’t have it. Gio Urshela started the inning off by blasting a solo homer of his own out to left field. Hernandez would then give up a double and a single while recording just one out, leaving the game for Marcus Walden with his team now down 3-0 with a runner on first and one down. Walden gave up one more as the Yankees held a four-run lead by the time the inning ended.
The Red Sox gave themselves a chance to at least chip away at the lead again, getting two on in the bottom of the seventh. Once again, those runners would be stranded. Travis Lakins would then come in for a scoreless eighth, but once again the offense went scoreless in the top of the inning. In the ninth, Mike Shawaryn gave up one more before Colten Brewer stranded the bases loaded before Boston went down without scoring in the bottom of the inning to end the game.
The Red Sox head out on the road for a three-game set up in Toronto starting on Tuesday. Nathan Eovaldi will get the start for Boston while the Blue Jays turn to T.J. Zeuch. First pitch is set for 7:07 PM ET.