It’s hard to put into words just how bad the Red Sox pitching is. We all knew it was going to be a rough year on the mound for this staff, but I know I didn’t expect it to be this bad. You have to think a team can at least fake its way to a passable performance now and then. Friday in the Bronx marked a fifth straight game with at least eight runs allowed, and with Gerrit Cole going for the Yanks that’s a guaranteed loss. What’s weird is this game didn’t even feel particularly bad, which says more about what else has happened this year than anything else.
The Red Sox really could have used a cookie of a series after the beatdown they experienced at home against the Rays this past week, but instead they are down in the Bronx having just played their first of four against the Yankees. They even had to go up against perhaps the best pitcher in the league, but we’ll get to that later. Instead, I want to start with the pitching, as the Red Sox were going with another bullpen game, starting with Colten Brewer. Now, New York was without Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, but this is still a scary lineup, so hopes weren’t exactly high in this one.
That said, Brewer did pitch alright, albeit while never really making it easy on himself. In the first, for example, he gave up a leadoff single, and then after a couple of outs he issued a walk and gave up another base hit. The second single was a ground ball up the middle on which Jonathan Araúz made a huge defensive play to slide and keep it out of center field, potentially saving a run. That was indeed the case, too, as Brewer came back and struck out Mike Tauchman with the bases loaded to keep the Yankees off the board.
Brewer’s best inning came in the second, and while he threw a bunch of pitches in the process he only allowed a walk in a scoreless frame. Unfortunately, one can only keep the Yankees off the board for so long, and they were ready to get to the righty a bit in the third in their second time through the order. The inning started with a Luke Voit line drive to shortstop that could have been caught by an outstretched Xander Bogaerts but instead went through the glove for a leadoff single. After a walk and a ground out, Gleyber Torres came to the plate with two in scoring position. The young Yankees shortstop has been struggling this year, but this Red Sox pitching staff seems to cure slumps and sure enough Torres smacked one out to deep right field for a two-run double to give the Yankees a 2-0 lead. After a wild pitch moved the runner to third, Brewer got a huge pop up and then Austin Brice got a ground out to end the inning with just two runs on the board.
On the other end, well, Gerrit Cole was doing Gerrit Cole things. He got the Red Sox in order in each of the first two innings, and while Boston did get a base hit from Kevin Pillar in the third they still only sent three to the plate as the outfielder was caught stealing. The fourth would finally see the offense break through, and it came early in the inning. Alex Verdugo led things off for his second at bat of the game, and he got a 1-1 curveball down and in. The leadoff man was all over it, and he ripped it out to the second deck in right field for a solo shot. Just like that, it was a 2-1 game.
Brice had one more inning in him in the bottom of the inning, meanwhile, and he looked good, issuing a walk but also striking out three in a scoreless inning. Then, in the fifth, the Red Sox offense had another big chance after a Christian Vázquez single and a two-out double from Jackie Bradley Jr. That put two men in scoring position with a couple of outs for the young Araúz. He hit it well, but the Yankees were positioned perfectly and it went into the box score as a ground out to third, keeping the Yankees up 2-1.
That brought Ryan Brasier to the mound for the fifth, and this is where we got our nightly 2020 Red Sox Moment. The righty was having a normal enough inning, getting a couple of outs and also allowing a base hit to Torres. He eventually got to a full count against Tauchman, which meant that Mitch Moreland was going to move behind the runner, because that’s what a first baseman does with two outs and a full count. The runner is going no matter what, so the first baseman moves into a normal fielding position. Well, Brasier forgot and went for a pickoff attempt. He held onto the ball, but that’s a balk, so the runner moved into scoring position. Sure enough Tauchman dumped a bloop into left field to give the Yankees their third run. After that, Gary Sánchez came up and demolished a fastball up in the zone, and just like that it was a 5-1 game.
After the Red Sox answered back with a quick 1-2-3 inning, Dylan Covey was the next man out of the bullpen. He’d get a perfect inning of his own in the sixth. The offense simply had no answers for Cole, though, and they’d go down in order again in the seventh.
From there, the game was basically put away if it hadn’t reached that point already. Covey came back out for the seventh and gave up three straight singles with one out to put one more run on the board. After a wild pitch then put both runners in scoring position, Clint Frazier came through with a two-run double to make it 8-1.
To their credit, the offense did show some signs of life after Cole had been taken out of the game. Jonathan Holder came in for the start of that inning and immediately loaded the bases. Verdugo would drive one in on a fielder’s choice and Devers drove in another on a base hit, making it an 8-3 ball game and forcing the Yankees go to Adam Ottavino. He came in and struck out the first two batters he faced to end the rally.
In the bottom of the inning, Brandon Workman did get into his first game in a week just to get a little bit of work. He looked like a guy who hasn’t pitched in a week, letting the first two batters on with a single and a walk. After a couple fly outs, he loaded up the bases on another single before giving up one more base hit to put two more runs on the board for the Yankees. That ended Workman’s night and Marcus Walden came on to record the final out. The Red Sox then went down in a scoreless ninth, and that was that.
The Red Sox and Yankees continue their series on Saturday with Nathan Eovaldi taking on James Paxton. First pitch is at 7:00 PM ET.