The Red Sox have a big stretch in the first half of June, and really a tough schedule throughout the month, but things did not get off to a good start in Houston. They were looking to turn that around in their first meeting with the Yankees this year, starting off a three-game set in the Bronx. They certainly got things started the right way. Rafael Devers hit a monster home run in the first, and the tone was set. The offense didn’t do a ton after that, but they didn’t need to with Nathan Eovaldi and company getting it done on the mound to give the Red Sox a win to start this series.
The Red Sox had a little bit of a good news/bad news situation as they headed into the Bronx on Friday to start their first series against their top rivals in 2021. The bad news was they had just lost three of four to Houston, and their bats were silent for most of the week. The good news is the win came in their most recent game on Thursday, and there were some signs of offense showing back up for the offense. Now they were looking to keep that going in a big divisional matchup, and the series started against a young pitcher in Michael King.
Sure enough, the offense was able to get going in that first inning to take control of this game before the Yankees even had a chance to bat. Alex Verdugo got things started with a one-out single, but after King got another out the Red Sox needed to rally with two down. They did just that, with Xander Bogaerts keeping the inning alive with a single of his own. That put two on with two outs for Rafael Devers, who had. a bit of a tough series individually in Houston. Well here he got an 0-2 fastball that stayed over the middle of the plate in the upper third of the zone, and he obliterated it. Smashing it at least halfway up the second deck out in right field, Devers launched a three-run shot and gave the Red Sox an early 3-0 lead.
Now, it was up to Nathan Eovaldi to make sure the momentum stayed on his side and he didn’t let the Yankees answer right now. That mission did not appear promising early on, as New York started off the bottom of the first with back-to-back singles. Suddenly, Aaron Judge was stepping to the plate with nobody out and a chance to tie the game with one swing of the bat. Instead, Eovaldi got him to hit a ground ball over to second base, and the Red Sox were able to turn a huge double play. That was followed by a line drive right at Danny Santana in center field, and somehow the inning ended with Boston still up 3-0.
From there, the pitchers kind of took over for a bit. For King, he did allow a baserunner in each of the second and third innings, including a one-out double in the third, but Boston couldn’t score. Then he went into temporary god mode, tossing an immaculate inning (striking out the side on nine pitches) in the fourth and needed only four pitches for a perfect fifth.
Over on the other side, Eovaldi was perfect in both the second and third innings. The fourth provided a little bit of trouble, however, with the Yankees getting a pair of singles to bring the tying run to the plate again. But again, Eovaldi won the battle by getting a pop up to end the inning, keeping the shutout alive. He followed that up with a perfect fifth.
That brought us to the sixth, with King somewhat surprisingly in the game. He was obviously pitching well, but he had not really been going deep into games much this year. The young righty did get a quick first out, but then Bogaerts smacked his second single of the day, and that ended the night for King. Boston was hoping to get going again with the bullpen in the game. Lucas Luetge came into the game and got a quick second out, but then Hunter Renfroe came through with a base hit, leaving it up to Marwin Gonzalez.
That hasn’t been a good situation all year, but he came through this time around, smacking a big double into the left-field corner. Bogaerts scored easily, and Renfroe turned on the jets to come all the way around from first, and just like that it was a 5-0 lead for the Red Sox.
With the larger lead in hand, Eovaldi came back to the mound in the bottom of the sixth with the Yankees sending the top of the order to the plate for the third time. DJ LeMaheiu got things started with a base hit, but Eovaldi responded with another big double play to cancel that out. That turned out to be big, because right after that Judge lined one right up and over the wall in right field. It was only a solo shot, but a run was on the board and it was a 5-1 game.
The Yankees continued to hit from there, adding back-to-back singles after the homer. That put two men on, and gave them four hits in the inning. It looked like he may have gotten out of it after that when Rougned Odor hit a grounder to the right side. However, Gonzalez bobbled the ball, and then to make matters worse he tried to make a hero throw to first. He should have just eaten it, but instead made a bad throw that let another run come across. Gonzalez got two errors on the play, and the Yankees were within three with the tying run coming to the plate. Eovaldi was able to stop the bleeding here though, getting a fly ball from Clint Frazier to end the inning.
The Red Sox went down in order, and in the process failed to get any insurance, in the seventh, and that brought their bullpen into the game. First getting the call was Hirokazu Sawamura, but he was up to the task. The Red Sox righty struck out the side, keeping the three-run lead in hand.
Boston would again go down in order in the top of the eighth, and somewhat surprisingly they brought Sawamura out for a second inning of work with the heart of New York’s lineup coming up. It wasn’t a good start as he issued a leadoff walk to Giancarlo Stanton, but he was able to bounce back with a huge strikeout of Judge. That was followed by his fifth strikeout of the night, and then he got a big pop up, and the inning was over.
After the Red Sox got a heads-up double from Gonzalez in the ninth but nothing else, they turned to Matt Barnes to try and close this thing out with a three-run lead. As he has done all year, the closer got it done. He struck out all three batters he’s faced, and the Red Sox got the 5-2 win. With the victory, they pushed their record to 34-23.
The Red Sox and Yankees will continue this three-game set on Saturday with Eduardo Rodriguez taking on Jameson Taillon. First pitch is set for 7:15 PM ET.