Red Sox Held in Check by James Paxton, Drop Fifth Straight in 4-2 Loss to Yankees

After getting swept by the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park during the week, the Red Sox’ fortunes did not change in the first of a four-game set against the New York Yankees on Friday, as they dropped the series opener by a final score of 4-2, marking their fifth consecutive loss.

Making his 23rd start of the season and third against New York for Boston was Eduardo Rodriguez, who picked up the win while allowing three runs over 5 2/3 innings in his last time out against these same Yankees to close out a strong July.

Working into the seventh inning this time around, the left-hander surrendered four runs, all of which were earned, on five hits and a season-high six walks to go along with eight strikeouts on the night.

All four of those Yankees runs came right away in the bottom half of the first, immediately after the Sox had jumped out to an early two-run lead in their half of the first.

With one out and the bases filled following a leadoff single from D.J. LeMahieu and back-to-back walks drawn by Aaron Judge and Edwin encarnacion, Gleyber Torres unloaded on the very first pitch he saw from Rodriguez, a 95 MPH four-seam fastball on the inner half of the strike zone, and deposited it 384 feet into the right field seats.

The second grand slam of Torres’ young career put his team ahead 4-2, which as already indicated, would be all they needed.

Other than that one huge blip though, Rodriguez settled in nicely from the middle of the second inning up until the bottom of the seventh, retiring 15 of the next 21 hitters who came to the plate with the help of two double-plays before giving up a two-out double to the last Yankee he faced in the form of LeMahieu.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 113 (65 strikes), the 26-year-old hurler turned to his four-seamer nearly 37% of the time he was on the mound Friday, inducing two swings and misses and topping out at 95.4 MPH with the pitch while Christian Vazquez was behind the plate.

Ultimately falling to 13-5 while inflating his ERA on the season up to 4.19, Rodriguez hadn’t lost a decision before Friday since June 9th, or 10 outings ago to be exact. He’ll look to get off to a better start in his next time out, which should come against the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday.

In relief of Rodriguez, Marcus Walden entered the seventh with one runner on second and one out to get in the frame, and he got that out fairly easily by fanning Aaron Judge on four pitches to retire the side.

Nathan Eovaldi got the call for the eighth inning, and he punched out one while putting together his first 1-2-3 appearance as a reliever since being activated off the injured list last month to preserve the two-run hole his side was in. It’s not like it made that much of a difference in the end, but a positive development nonetheless.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Yankees left-hander James Paxton, someone they took deep four times and got seven runs off of last Friday.

Kicking off the scoring right away in the top half of the first, a two-out walk drawn by Xander Bogaerts brought J.D. Martinez to the plate with the chance to strike early.

On the second pitch he saw from Paxton, Martinez did just that, as he punished an 0-1, 87 MPH cutter that was down and inside and pulled it 355 feet over everything in left field for his 24th big fly of the season.

That gave the Red Sox a 2-0 lead, and it looked as though they were on their way to teeing off against Paxton once again.

But, to his credit, Paxton held the Boston bats in check the rest of the way and never faced more than five hitters in a single frame from the beginning of the second through the middle of the sixth.

New York’s bullpen didn’t simplify things either, as Tommy Kahnle yielded a two-out single to Christian Vazquez in a scoreless seventh inning, Zack Brittion sat down Mookie Betts, Rafael Devers, and Bogaerts in order in the eighth, and Aroldis Chapman notched his 28th save of the year by retiring Martinez, Andrew Benintendi, and Sam Travis in consecutive order in the ninth.

4-2 would go on to be Friday’s final score, extending the Sox’ current losing streak to five, which is the most regular season games they have lost consecutively since 2015, when they dropped eight straight from July 12th to July 23rd.

Some notes from this loss:

The Red Sox went 0-for-2 with runners in scoring position on Friday. They left four men on base as a team.

From The Eagle-Tribune’s Chris Mason:

Having lost five games in a row, the Red Sox now stand 11 1/2 games back of the Yankees for first place in the American League East and four games back of the Rays for the second American League Wild Card spot.

The Red Sox are also now 5-6 since July 22nd, when that crucial stretch of 14 straight games against Tampa Bay and New York started.

A day-night doubleheader is set to take place on Saturday, with left-hander Chris Sale opposing right-hander Domingo German in the first installment, and southpaw Brian Johnson making his return against TBD in the second.

Sale struggled mightily in his last time out against the Yankees this past Sunday, surrendering six earned runs on five hits in less than six innings in a contest the Red Sox eventually lost.

On the 2019 campaign as whole, the 30-year-old is 0-3 with an ERA of 7.71 and batting average against of 2.79 over three starts and 16 1/3 innings of work against New York.

German, meanwhile, also opposed Sale last Sunday and picked up the win, as he held the Sox to three runs on four hits over 5 1/3 innings pitched.

First pitch for the first game on Saturday is scheduled for 1:05 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox looking to snap this skid.

 

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Author: Brendan Campbell

Blogging about the Boston Red Sox since April '17. Also support Tottenham Hotspur.

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