The following simulation and images are courtesy of Out of the Park Baseball 21.
Our Fake Sox had an extra night off this week thanks to some bad weather at Fenway that canceled their series finale against the Angels, giving the team a little extra rest heading into the biggest series so far in this young season. On Friday, Boston started a three-game set against the Yankees, the first matchup between the two squads this year with the Red Sox leading the division over their rivals by one game at the start of this game. Boston had Collin McHugh on the mound while James Paxton was going for the Yankees in his first start of the year after starting the season on the IL.
Things got off to a pretty damn good start for the Red Sox, too. They moved some pieces around a bit in the lineup before the game, with Jackie Bradley Jr. getting moved down to the eight spot as he’s cooling a bit following his hot start and Alex Verdugo moving up to the second spot. The latter stepped into the box in the first with the bases empty in his first at bat with the Red Sox in Yankee Stadium, and he made it count. The right fielder blasted one into the power alley in right field for a solo homer, and Boston had themselves a 1-0 lead before the home team even stepped in the batter’s box.
Unfortunately, the home team made itself known in the batters box all night long against Red Sox pitching. McHugh just wasn’t very sharp in this game, and that won’t work against this lineup. The bottom of the first started innocuously enough with a bunt single from Brett Gardner, but that was followed by an regular old single from DJ LeMahieu and suddenly there were runners on the corners with nobody out. McHugh did avoid a big inning thanks to a double play ball, but that was able to bring Gardner home and the game was tied up after one.
After Boston went down in order in the second, the Yankees got right back to work in the bottom of that inning and got a little help from McHugh as well. First, though, Gary Sánchez got things going with a double ripped into the left field corner, putting a runner in scoring position with one out. This is where the pitcher made a mistake, tossing a wild pitch and letting the runner get to third. That would be big because the next batter hit a routine ground ball to shortstop, and with the infield playing back it allowed Sánchez to come home and give New York a 2-1 lead.
Fortunately, the Red Sox offense had a little fight in them for the time being. José Peraza finished off a seven-pitch at bat by taking ball four to put a runner on with one out, and he’d move up to second on a ground ball. That brought Verdugo back to the plate with a man in scoring position and two outs, and he came through again. It wasn’t a homer this time around, but he did smack a base hit into right field and tied the game up at two. An error then gave Xander Bogaerts a chance with two on and two out, but he popped one up and wasted the chance
This was the last inning that featured good news for the good guys. The score was still 2-2 heading into the bottom of the fourth with McHugh still on the mound. He started things off by giving up a base hit, and then walked a man a couple of batters later. That put two on with one out for Gio Urshela, who didn’t miss his chance. The Yankees third baseman jumped all over a 2-2 pitch and sent it flying 375 feet down the left field line for a three-run shot, suddenly giving New York a 5-2 lead and ending a rough night for McHugh. The Red Sox starter allowed the five runs on seven hits and a walk over just 3 1⁄3 innings.
Martín Pérez came on next for the Red Sox, now pitching out of the bullpen after the recently-signed Matt Shoemaker snagged his rotation slot. The lefty got out of that inning without more runs, but then gave up two singles and a walk in the fifth to make it 6-2 Yankees. In the sixth, Pérez got a strikeout and a walk before making way for Ryan Brasier, who got a quick second out before extending the inning with a walk. That would be costly, because Gleyber Torres really put the game away with a three-run shot of his own, this one traveling 401 feet and making it 9-2 Yankees.
That was basically that. The Red Sox offense really had nothing all night long, with Paxton pitching very well in his 2020 debut. Verdugo was really the only player with a pulse for Boston in this game. The loss pushed Boston’s record down to 22-16 and they are now tied with the Yankees in the division with two more games to go in the series.
Around the league, the Nationals got some bad news as Max Scherzer is going to miss two months with inflammation in his elbow. In Texas, Kyle Gibson will be out for the year. Meanwhile, down on the farm, Josh Ockimey hit his eighth homer of the year as the PawSox went 1-1 the last two days. Portland also went 1-1 with Bryan Mata struggling in the loss. Salem lost both games with the pitching allowing a combined 22 runs, while Greenville went 2-0 with Korby Batesole extending his hit streak to seven games with two hits in each contest.