NOTE: The information I would usually include from Baseball Savant was only made available while this game was happening, so that is why it is not presented here. Sorry about that.
After two days off, the Red Sox and New York Yankees finally kicked off the highly anticipated inaugural London Series at Olympic Stadium on Saturday, and the Sox lost the first ever Major League Baseball game played on European soil by a final score of 17-13 to fall 10 games off the pace for first place in the American League East.
Making his 17th start of the season and second against New York was Rick Porcello, who made history Saturday by becoming the first big league pitcher to make a start on the other side of the Atlantic.
Recording just the first out of this one, the right-hander was downright walloped by the Yankees high-octane offense, as he surrendered six runs, all of which were earned, on five hits and one walk to go along with zero strikeouts on the afternoon.
That one out came on a flyout off the bat of Aaron Judge after DJ LeMahieu had reached base to start things off.
Other than that, Porcello followed with a one-out walk of Gary Sanchez before serving up back-to-back-to-back run-scoring doubles to Luke Voit, Didi Gregorious, and Edwin Encarnacion, which put the Yankees up four.
With two outs still to get, Porcello’s outing came to an abrupt close six pitchers later when Aaron Hicks took him deep to right on a 2-2 pitch to give his side a new six-run lead.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 33 (20 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler had Christian Vazquez, not Sandy Leon, behind the plate.
Hit with the no-decision in the shortest start of his big league career, Porcello wraps up a dismal month of June in which he posted a 6.46 ERA over six starts and 30 2/3 innings of work, including that seven-inning shutout performance against the Minnesota Twins on the 17th. He’ll look for improved results in his next time out, which should come against the Detroit Tigers next weekend.
In relief of Porcello, the Red Sox bullpen had their work cut out for them Saturday, as they would wind up responsible for the final 8 2/3 frames of this contest.
Colten Brewer entered with one out and the bases empty in the first, and he walked the first man he faced in Gleyber Torres before retiring the last two hitters of the inning.
Steven Wright, in his second appearance since returning from an 80-game suspension, yielded a pair of Yankees runs on a two-out, two-run homer off the bat of Brett Gardner in the fourth, which gave New York a brand new 8-6 advantage, and that is how the knuckleballer was saddled with his first losing decision of the year.
From there, rookie right-hander Mike Shawaryn got rocked for eight earned runs, six of which came in consecutive order in the fourth on a bases-loaded walk drawn by Gardner, a bases-clearing double from LeMahieu, and another two-run dinger from Aaron Judge to make it a 14-6 game.
In the fifth, three more Yankees runs crossed the plate on an RBI base knock from Didi Gregorious while Shawaryn was still out there, and a two-run single from the red-hot LeMahieu while the left-handed Josh Taylor, who ended the inning, was on the mound.
At 17-6, it looked like this one was all but over for Boston, but with the efforts of Ryan Brasier, Hector Velazquez, and Marcus Walden combining for four frames of scoreless baseball from the beginning of the sixth up until the middle of the ninth, the Red Sox were nearly able to climb their way back, which is what we’ll get into next.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a formidable opponent in Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who had yet to face Boston this season before Saturday.
Coming to the plate for the first time already down a sizable margin, Rafael Devers got the scoring started for his side by driving in Mookie Betts all the way from first following a leadoff single on a long double to right field. 6-1.
Two walks of JD Martinez and Xander Bogaerts later to fill the bases, Christian Vazquez cut into that deficit even further, plating Devers from third on a sacrifice fly to right for the second out of the inning.
Brock Holt cut the initial six-run hole in half with an RBI single to score Bogaerts and move Martinez up to second, and Michael Chavis erased the original deficit entirely by mashing a three-run home run to left center field for his 13th of the season.
That bomb knotted things up at six, but the Yankees pulled away once more, at one point padding an 11-run lead until the Red Sox got on the board again in their half of the sixth.
There, with reliever Nestor Cortes Jr. in for New York, Jackie Bradley Jr. stayed hot by leading the inning off with his ninth big fly of the year, a long solo shot to bring the Sox back to within 10 runs.
Given that large of a deficit in the later stages of this contest, manager Alex Cora went ahead and removed Andrew Benintendi and Devers to begin the seventh, replacing them with Sam Travis and Marco Hernandez respectively while also moving Vazquez to third and putting Sandy Leon in behind the plate.
In that seventh inning, the Boston bats continued to dig with four straight two-out hits against Cortes Jr., the third of which was Chavis’ second two-run dinger of the night to make it a 17-10 game in favor of New York.
A Bradley Jr. single got Cortes out and brought right-hander Tommy Kahnle in, who proceeded to walk Betts and throw a wild pitch in his matchup against Hernandez, which allowed both runners to move into scoring position.
Hernandez took full advantage of that mistake from Kahnle by driving in Bradley Jr. on an RBI infield single, and Betts scored as well on another wild pitch from the Yankees reliever on ball four to Bogaerts. 17-12
Another pitching chane for New York saw Adam Ottavino take over for Kahnle, and Martinez greeted him promptly with an RBI double, allowing Hernandez to score from second and bring the Red Sox back to within grand slam range, or four runs.
Unfortunately, that would wind up being the last Boston run to cross the plate, as Travis popped out to first with runners at second and third to end the seventh, Hernandez grounded out to third with the bases loaded to end the eighth, and Aroldis Chapman faced the minimum three batters in a scoreless ninth, sealing a 17-13 loss for the Red Sox.
Some notes from this loss:
Xander Bogaerts departed in the seventh inning Saturday due to cramping in both of his calfs. He is day-to-day and is hopeful to play Sunday.
Saturday’s nine-inning game lasted four hours and 42 minutes. Both teams combined for 30 runs on 37 hits and 12 walks, all without committing a single error.
DJ LeMahieu recorded the first hit in Europe in Major League Baseball history, while Aaron Hicks recorded the first home run.
Michael Chavis’ last 15 games: .318/.357/.530 with four home runs and 14 RBI.
More from Chavis, courtesy of The Boston Herald’s Jason Mastrodonato:
Rafael Devers’ last 15 games: .443/.460/.754 with three home runs and 10 RBI.
The first Major League Baseball game to ever be played in Europe was a wild one, but at the end of the day, the Red Sox dropped a contest to a divisional opponent and are now 10 games back of the Yankees for first place in the American League East.
With that third straight division title becoming more and more out of reach, how the Red Sox go about the next few weeks leading to the July 31st trade deadline should be worth paying attention to.
Anyway, next up for the Red Sox, it’s the finale of this two-game London Series against the Bronx Bombers on Sunday afternoon.
Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez will get the ball for Boston, and will probably be asked to pitch deep into his 17th start of the year, while fellow southpaw Stephen Tarpley will do the same for New York by serving as their opener.
Neither Rodriguez nor Tarpley have faced the Yankees or Red Sox so far this season.
First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 10:10 AM EDT on ESPN. Red Sox going for the split before taking off for Toronto.