It’s always nice when you can flip a script. After the Red Sox failed to take advantage of key chances in losses on Friday and Saturday, it was the Yankees who failed to do so on Sunday. Boston’s pitching staff, led in this one by Tanner Houck, felt like it was on the ropes basically all night, but to their credit they did a good job of not breaking. The offense for Boston was, again, a bit less robust than we were hoping for, but the bullpen came through in a big way while a solo shot from Bobby Dalbec in the seventh proved to be the game winner, and the Red Sox have their first win of 2022.
More robust game notes below.
In the first two games of this season-opening series in the Bronx, the Red Sox offense has been notably absent with runners in scoring position. In each of those losses, they took early leads but then failed to add on when given the chance, opening up the opportunity for the Yankees to come back and win, which New York took advantage of both times. Sure enough, Boston was able to get out in front in this game off the bat as well.
It was a little bit fluky with their first two batters reaching on a bloop single and a rocket of a ground ball that smacked off of Yankees starter Jordan Montgomery, who was on the ground for a couple minutes but stayed in the game. But however it happened, Boston had a pair on for J.D. Martinez, and finally they took advantage with runners in scoring position. Martinez dropped a double into the left field corner, and Rafael Devers came around to score and give Boston a 1-0 lead. After Bobby Dalbec was hit by a 1-2 pitch to extend the inning, Christian Arroyo — who made his first career start in the outfield in this game — came through with a sacrifice fly, and Boston had a 2-0 lead after the top half of the first.
That brought Tanner Houck out to the mound for his first start of the season, and the righty never quite looked comfortable with his location. The splitter, which is really the key to his development, was thrown (poorly) once in the first, and never again in the game, while the slider and both of his fastballs seemed to vacillate all evening in terms of command. Still, he was somehow able to navigate two walks and a single in a 31-pitch first inning, getting Gleyber Torres to pop a 3-2, two-out pitch to left field to end the inning.
From there, the Red Sox offense again went quiet, letting Montgomery settle in a bit with just a walk over the next two innings. Houck would manage to escape a little more trouble in the second, this time working around a single and a wild pitch, but in the third his issues caught up to him, although his defense played a hand in that as well. That said, the issues did start with a leadoff, four-pitch walk before Arroyo failed to get to a pop up down the line that fell in for a single. After that, Giancarlo Stanton lined a base hit into left field, and while it looked like Alex Verdugo had Anthony Rizzo dead to rights at the plate he didn’t even attempt a throw. The booth said he had bobbled it, and while I didn’t see that it’s the only reasonable explanation.
That still left a pair on base with one out, and a two-out hit batter loaded the bases, but again Houck walked the tightrope and escaped the inning up 2-1. Boston would quickly get the run back, too, thanks to a leadoff strikeout that still resulted in a runner with the third strike getting to the backstop, a single, and then a weak grounder that served essentially as a sacrifice. Jonathan Araúz, who got the start at second base in this game, came through with the second sacrifice fly of the night for Boston, and they were back up by a pair.
Houck then came back out for the fourth, with Enrique Hernández mic’d up on ESPN (which I didn’t love, but opinions seemed mixed), and the Yankees answered back. The Red Sox starter gave up a leadoff double to Isiah Kiner-Falefa, and then after a single and a strikeout he was taken out for Ryan Brasier. He’d throw a pitch in the dirt to the first batter he saw, and while it looked like Kevin Plawecki should have kept it in front of him, it went as a wild pitch that moved the runners up to scoring position. Josh Donaldson followed that up with a base hit, and the Yankees had the game tied. Fortunately, Brasier was able to induce a double play after that to keep things knotted up.
New York got right back to threatening in the fifth, though, this time with Kutter Crawford on the mound for the Sox. Stanton kicked things off with a rocket of a base hit, which was followed by a one-out double off the wall (played, we’ll call it questionably, by Arroyo) from Gleyber Torres to put a pair in scoring position. Somehow the Red Sox again pulled a Houdini. Aaron Hicks popped one out, and then Kiner-Falefa was called out on a check swing that was probably not a swing to end the inning.
It was a frustrating end to the inning for the Yankees, and the Red Sox added to that pain right away in the sixth. Dalbec led off the inning, and we saw the first Bobby Bomb of 2022. Jumping on a first-pitch sinker that stayed belt-high over the plate, he went the other way and blasted a solo home run to put the Red Sox back out in front 4-3.
That was still the score as we got into the bottom of the seventh, with Crawford still in after a perfect sixth. He’d only face one batter here, giving up another rocket of a single to Stanton before handing the ball off to Matt Strahm. The southpaw did the job, retiring all three batters he faced to finish out the inning, with a bit of help from a nice little sliding grab from none other than Arroyo.
After another scoreless inning from Boston in the eighth, with an assist to Alex Cora not challenging a double play from Martinez on which he sure looked safe, Hansel Robles got the ball for the eighth. The righty had some issues with his control right away, walking the first batter he faced. Thankfully, he’d settle in quickly to retire the next three batters, and we headed to the ninth with Boston still up one.
The Red Sox had no insurance to offer in the top half of the inning, leaving it to Jake Diekman to try and convert the save in a one-run game, facing the heart of New York’s lineup to boot. The southpaw was able to get his first save in a Red Sox uniform, striking out the side to give Boston the 4-3 win.
The Red Sox now head out to Detroit for a three-game set against the Tigers to start on Monday. First pitch for the opener is at 5:10 PM ET, with Michael Wacha taking on Matt Manning.