When you woke up on Friday, the last time the Red Sox had lost five games in a row was back in 2015. That was also the last time the Red Sox missed the playoffs. It’s looking more and more like both of those streaks will end in 2019. The first one certainly will end because, well, it just did. Boston jumped out to an early 2-0 lead on Friday night in the Bronx thanks to a dinger from J.D. Martinez. Eduardo Rodriguez quickly gave it back and then some in the form of a grand slam to Gleyber Torres. To his credit, Rodriguez did recover after that, pitching out of trouble for a few innings before really settling in for his final few frames and pitching into the seventh. The offense was totally shut down after that first, though, and that was that. This team is reeling, and they are running out of time in the season to put things together.
If you’ve been watching the Red Sox over the past week, well first of all I’m very sorry to hear that. Also, you probably know the most frustrating part of this team’s pitching performances. It’s not necessarily the worst, though it might be, but it is definitely the thing that will cause you to rip the hair out of your head if that’s how you cope. I’m referring to the rotation’s — and really the staff as a whole — inability to get some runs from their offense and take care of business in the next inning. It is colloquially known as a “shutdown inning” and can sometimes be overblown, but when they never come, it really sucks!
Anyway, you can probably guess where this leads. It starts with good news, because that’s how all of these stories go! The Red Sox offense was going up against James Paxton, who has had major first inning issues of late and was crushed by the Red Sox just last weekend. It looked like he’d get through an easy first here, though, after a couple quick outs. Xander Bogaerts kept things going with a walk before J.D. Martinez stepped to the plate. Paxton threw a cutter that stayed middle-in against the Red Sox slugger and Martinez smashed a laser out over the wall in the left field corner. Just like that, the Red Sox jumped out to an early 2-0 lead.
Of course, that is followed up with the bad part of this story. That involves Eduardo Rodriguez, who actually had some positive vibes heading into this start. He’d been rolling a bit of late and always seems to up his game a bit in Yankee Stadium. That was not the case here and he was not going to take long to relinquish this lead.
The southpaw started that bottom half of the first by giving up a solid base hit followed by a pair of walks, loading the bases in the blink of an eye. He got a big pop out after that, and was suddenly just a ground ball away from escaping the jam. Instead, he threw a belt-high first-pitch fastball to Gleyber Torres. It was in off the plate, but Torres was all over it and sent it way out for a grand slam. And that, folks, is not a shutdown inning. The Yankees took a 4-2 lead after one.
After that initial inning, it seemed like it was going to be another Red Sox-Yankees slugfest. Instead, the offenses slowed down, though it was different on both sides. Rodriguez never really settled in until very late in his outing, struggling with efficiency and command all night but finding his ways out of jams.
He got a double play to work around a leadoff walk in the second. He allowed the first two runners to reach in the third before getting three straight outs including a pair of strikeouts to end a scoreless frame. He walked the first batter he saw in the fourth but then got a strike-em-out, throw-em-out double play. The fifth was really his first solid inning of work when he struck out the side. Rodriguez then worked around a one-out walk in the sixth.
The Red Sox, meanwhile, just couldn’t really get much of anything going against Paxton. The Yankees lefty retired nine in a row after the two-run homer from Martinez, and then that streak ended when Martinez drew a one-out walk in the fourth. Andrew Benintendi then hit a base hit to put a pair on with just one out in a two-run game, but the Red Sox had nothing going. Sam Travis and Michael Chavis both failed to get even one run home and the score held constant. Paxton then came back and allowed just a walk over the next two innings.
In the seventh, Paxton was out of the game but the results were not much different. With Tommy Kahnle on the mound, the Red Sox did get a two-out base hit from Christian Vázquez but nothing else.
Somewhat surprisingly, Rodriguez was back out there for the bottom of the seventh despite having 105 pitches under his belt after six. He did get a couple of quick outs to start things off but then DJ LeMahieu rocked a double out to right field. That ended Rodriguez’ night, one that got off to a really rough start but recovered into something palatable at the least.
Marcus Walden was called upon out of the bullpen to face Aaron Judge with a runner in scoring position, not an ideal situation for any pitcher. He did the job, though, getting a strikeout and ending the inning.
The Red Sox would then go down in order against Zack Britton in the eighth before Nathan Eovaldi tossed a perfect inning in the bottom half. That gave Boston three chances to score at least two runs off Aroldis Chapman in the ninth. They did not do that, and instead went down in order to finish off another loss.
The Red Sox and Yankees will meet for a pair of games on Saturday. Chris Sale will face off against Domingo Germán in the first game at 1:05 PM ET while Brian Johnson faces….TBD at 7:05 PM ET.
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