This was a very frustrating weekend against the Yankees, with the finale of the sweep perhaps being the most frustrating of the bunch. The Red Sox finally got some production from their offense with Xander Bogaerts leading the way. He had a four-hit effort including a pair of homers. The pitching just kept letting the Yankees back in it, though, with Matt Barnes giving up the big damage. He let up the big damage in the eighth, entering the game with a one-run lead and leaving with a two-run deficit. This series was always going to be bad, but the way it played out was frustrating.
While the pitching is the obvious long-term concern for the Red Sox as we venture through whatever you want to call this 2020 season, more recently it has been the offense. The pitching has kept Boston in the game, but the lineup hasn’t done its job. In particular, they’ve had some trouble getting going early in 2020. That’s why their first inning in Sunday’s game was such a pleasant sight, when J.D. Martinez blasted a double to center field before Xander Bogaerts took advantage of Yankee Stadium with an opposite field home run to give Boston a rare first inning lead.
They held a 2-0 advantage when the Yankees took the plate in the bottom of the first and Austin Brice came in to start a bullpen game. Things got a little dicey for him after he was handed a lead, though. The righty did strike out two of the first three batters he faced, but José Peraza couldn’t come up with a pop up to put one runner on, and then Brice issued back-to-back two-out walks to load the bases for Luke Voit. With the way things had been going this year it seemed like this was when the Yankees get a huge extra-base hit. Instead, Brice got a huge strikeout to end the inning and keep New York off the board.
Matt Hall got the ball in second, though, and things did not go quite as well for him. Like Brice in the first, Hall did get two of the first three batters he faced, but issued a walk to DJ LeMahieu to keep the inning alive for Aaron Judge. That’s not exactly the guy you want to see at the plate with a runner on base, especially with him having hit a homer in four straight games. He made it five here, demolishing a 2-2 fastball that did not get high enough for a three-run shot to give New York the 3-2 lead.
This was a back-and-forth affair, though, and the Red Sox got some help from the Yankees defense in the third. Kevin Pillar started things off with a fly ball to center field, but Aaron Hicks inexplicably pulled up at the track. The ball fell in and hopped over the fence for a leadoff ground rule double. Rafael Devers then took advantage and brought the run home with a base hit. A couple batters later, Bogaerts smacked a single of his own into left field, and Miguel Andújar misplayed it and let the ball get by him. That allowed Devers to get all the way around from home and put Bogaerts on third base thanks to the error. Christian Vázquez put one more on the board with a base hit, and it was a 5-3 lead for Boston.
Hall just wasn’t the guy you want to see against the Yankees, though, and he couldn’t hold the lead. He issued a leadoff walk to start the bottom of the third, and after a couple of outs he gave up a double to Gary Sánchez to pull New York to within one. Another double from Gio Urshela right after that and we were all tied up.
Both offenses were finally stymied in the fourth, but the offenses came back in the fifth. In the top half of the inning, it was Bogaerts yet again as he continued his huge game. This time he worked a full count before Michael King left a slider up in the zone and Bogaerts smoked a no-doubter to left field to give them a one-run lead. It would be short-lived, though, with Heath Hembree giving up a solo homer to Luke Voit in the bottom of the inning to tie things back up at six apiece.
The score was still tied heading into the bottom of the sixth as Marcus Walden took over. He didn’t have a super sharp night, starting things off with a leadoff base hit. He did follow that up with a big double play, though. That was particularly big after a single and a walk to put two on for Gleyber Torres. Fortunately, Walden won that battle and got a fly out to end the inning and hold the tie.
In the top half of the seventh, King was continuing a very strong outing out of the bullpen for him and got a couple of quick outs to start the inning. That brought Devers to the plate, though, and he’d end that with one swing of the bat. He got a changeup in his wheelhouse and hit an absolute moonshot to right field, giving the Red Sox another lead with a 7-6 score. Walden then came back out for a second inning of work and tossed a scoreless frame.
After the Red Sox stranded two in the eighth, Matt Barnes came on for the bottom of the inning to protect the one-run lead. The righty got a couple of quick outs, but then issued a walk to bring the top of the order come back around. Mike Tauchman then stole second to put that tying run in scoring position for DJ LeMahieu with two outs. That would prove to be huge, as LeMahieu poked a base hit through the middle to get that run home and tie things up at seven. That brought Judge back to the plate, and Barnes fell behind 2-0. At that point he probably should have just pitched around him. Instead he tried to sneak a curveball by and left it middle-in, a pitch that Judge sent to the moon and gave the Yankees a 9-7 lead.
That gave Boston one more chance against Zack Britton in the ninth. Instead, they went down and order and the Yankees finished off the sweep.
The Red Sox now have a day off as they travel down to Florida for a quick two-game series against the Rays. Nathan Eovaldi takes the mound on Tuesday and Charlie Morton goes for Tampa Bay. First pitch is at 6:40 PM ET.