The Yankees rolled into Boston for a weekend series looking for anything short of witchcraft to help pull the team out of an offensive funk that had lasted nearly the first full month of the season. The Red Sox came into the series with a 12-10 record and the hope of many Yankee fans were that the rivalry would rekindle an offensive spark and push the team forward in the standings.
This one’s gonna hurt
Friday night saw Masahiro Tanaka matched up against the Red Sox youngster Henry Owens. Who better to lead the team into a series as they look for a rebound? Tanaka would not disappoint either, especially for the first six innings. He would hold the Red Sox to only three singles in those innings, and after a solo home run from Alex Rodriguez in the second and Brett Gardner‘s RBI single in the fifth, it was almost like this game was on cruise control.
The undoing would begin in the seventh as Boston would string together three straight hits culminating in Jackie Bradley, Jr’s two-out, two-run double off the Green Monster. Chasen Shreve and Dellin Betances were both ready in the bullpen, but Joe Girardi stuck with Tanaka and the Red Sox pulled even at 2-2. Tanaka’s night would end after 6.2 innings, giving up the two runs on six hits, while striking out five.
In the eighth, Betances would serve up a home run for the second straight game. This time it was a two-run shot off the bat of David Ortiz to make it a 4-2 game. Ortiz has practically owned Yankee pitching in his career with a slash line of .308/.397/.572 with 49 home runs and 161 runs batted in. The Yankee bats would go quietly in this one as the last 13 batters would make outs and the final score would be 4-2.
2 runs. That seems to be this team’s number this season. This game saw a wasted start from Tanaka and the bullpen couldn’t hold it together late. This one had a bit of a sting to it, especially with it coming against the Red Sox, and made even worse that it was from the hand of Ortiz.
An unsightly Saturday
Michael Pineda would be matched up against Rick Porcello in a rare Saturday night game at Fenway. Pineda came into the game with a 5.35 ERA and had struck out 27 in 22 innings. However, the thirty hits and seven home runs over that stretch had kept him from pitching deep into games.
Two out and nobody on base would be the theme for Yankee pitching on this night, as an inability to finish off the inning would be their undoing. A single and back-to-back doubles with two outs in the second inning staked Boston to a 2-0 advantage. He would work around base runners all night and the Red Sox would foul off pitch after pitch to drive Pineda’s pitch count over 100 by the fifth inning. Pineda’s night would end after 5 innings, giving up 5 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, and 3 K’s. Not horrible, but not exactly effective either. And with this offense, well, that’s trouble.
The Yankees would get all of five hits on the night. All singles. One base runner reached third. Just when you thought they had hit a new low. The first five batters in the lineup were 1-for-20 on Saturday night. Starlin Castro is just about the only consistent bat in the lineup. All in all, not a pretty sight.
Shreve would give up a two-out RBI triple to Bradley, Jr. and Kirby Yates would come on to give up an RBI single to Mookie Betts to push the Red Sox lead to 4-0 in the sixth. Things would get out of hand in the seventh as Boston would batter Johnny Barbato and Nick Goody for a 4-spot, including another home run from Ortiz. The final score of 8-0 would leave the Yankees at 8-14 and 5.5 games back of the Orioles in the AL East.
The bats come alive, but….
Nathan Eovaldi went to the mound in the finale against David Price looking to build off of his excellent start in Texas earlier in the week. The calendar had turned to May as the Yankees were looking to anything to get their bats going. In a back and forth affair that would see the Yankees get 9 hits, the pitching would not quite hold up their end of the bargain.
After Boston took an early 1-0 lead, the Yankees would move on top courtesy of an RBI double from Ellsbury and a 2-run bomb from ARod to take a 3-1 lead. Eovaldi could not provide the shut down inning the Yankees needed as Boston would score three runs on a Hanley Ramirez 2-RBI single and a Brock Holt RBI single to retake the lead at 4-3. Rodriguez would continue his hot hitting as he would drive home two runs with a double to left field that just missed being a home run. A Mark Teixeira single would chase ARod home and give the Yankees a 6-4 lead.
Once again, in need of a shut down inning, Eovaldi couldn’t come through. Travis Shaw‘s two-run homer in the bottom of the fifth tied the game at 6. Eovaldi’s night would end after facing one batter in the sixth, giving up six runs on ten hits, walking three and striking out three. Christian Vasquez would touch up Betances for a two-run homer in the seventh to put Boston up 8-6. After pulling within a run thanks to a Koji Uehara wild pitch, the Yankees would go quietly in the ninth to lose 8-7.
8-15 is a far cry from where expectations were to begin the season and as the calendar has turned to May, it will take more games offensively like Sunday night to pull them out of the cellar. The season is far from over and fans seem to have a favorite dog in the lineup to kick these days, but the fact remains that a couple of short winning streaks can get this team right back in the thick of things. The only question is whether they have it in them or not, as they have not put together anything more than a two game winning streak thus far. The entire team has played a part in this start at some point or other, and it will take that entire team to make a move. Baltimore would be the perfect place for that move to begin.