After dropping the opener of a day-night doubleheader and holding a team meeting in between games on Saturday, the Red Sox were unable to turn things around in the night cap, as they fell to the New York Yankees by a final score of 6-4 to mark their seventh consecutive loss.
Making his eighth overall appearance and third start for Boston this season was Brian Johnson, who came into the weekend having not appeared in a big league game since June 22nd after missing more than a month on the injury list due to a non-baseball related medical issue.
Tossing three full innings in his first start since June 16th, the left-hander surrendered three runs, all of which were earned, on eight hits and zero walks to go along with two strikeouts on the night.
All three of those Yankees runs came in the bottom half of the third, when after scattering four hits over two scoreless frames to begin things, Johnson served up a one-out solo shot to a red-hot Gleyber Torres off a 1-1, 94 MPH at the top of the strike zone.
Back-to-back singles from Aaron Hicks and Gio Urshela brought Cameron Maybin to the plate with runners at first and second, and he emptied the bases by lacing a two-run double to left field. Just like that, the Sox’ two-run lead had turned into a one-run deficit.
A line-out off the bat of Mike Tauchman and a mental lapse made from Maybin allowed Johnson to escape the inning thanks to an unconventional 8-6 double play, but the damage already been done.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 70 (44 strikes), the 28-year-old hurler relied on his slider nearly 36% of the time he was on the mound Saturday, inducing two swings and misses with the pitch. He also topped out at 92 MPH with his four-seamer, a pitch he threw 21 times while Christian Vazquez was behind the plate.
Ultimately hit with the no-decision due to the short outing while raising his ERA on the season up to 6.88, Johnson will more than likely be used in a long-relief/spot start role in the Sox’ pitching staff for the foreseeable future.
In relief of Johnson, Marcus Walden entered the fourth with his side up a run, and he maintained that lead by stranding a runner at first in an otherwise clean frame.
Left-hander Josh Taylor got the call for the sixth, and he too fell victim to Gleyber Torres, as the Yankee All-Star led the inning off by mashing his second solo shot of the night, this one to tie the ballgame up at four runs apiece.
Taylor got out of the fifth and got the first two outs of the sixth before giving up a ground ball single to D.J LeMahieu, which in turn led to Sox manager Alex Cora turning to Matt Barnes.
Barnes stranded LeMahieu by getting Aaron Judge to ground out to short and also came back out for his second inning of work in the seventh.
There, the right-hander proceeded to fill the bases with Yankees on a Torres leadoff double and back-to-back walks of Hicks and Urshela.
A four-pitch punchout of Maybin made it seem as though Barnes was making progress, but a two-run single off the bat of Tuachman on a 2-1, hanging 86 MPH curveball changed all that.
Torres and Urshela scored as a result, and New York had themselves a 6-4 lead.
To make matters worse, Barnes again loaded the bases with a seven-pitch walk of Austin Romine, thus leading to another pitching change.
Colten Brewer was inserted into a game for the second time in the same day, and he sat down the only two hitters he faced in order to leave the bases loaded.
Finally, Brandon Workman maneuvered his way around a Judge leadoff single in a scoreless bottom of the eighth to keep the deficit at two runs.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was first matched up against right-hander Chad Green in what was a bullpen game for the Yankees.
Starting the scoring with one out in the top half of the third, after Green had already been placed by Nestor Cortes Jr., Rafael Devers got his team on the board first by scoring Marco Hernandez, as well as himself, on his 22nd homer of the season.
That booming, 433-foot two-run blast put Boston ahead 2-0, but a three-run rally from New York in their half of the same inning turned that two-run lead into a one-run hole.
Fast forward to the fourth, a leadoff walk from Sam Travis and double from Christian Vazquez against new Yankees reliever Chance Adams put the Red Sox in a prime run-scoring spot.
Michael Chavis and Marco Hernandez were unable to do anything off Adams, but fortunately for Boston, Mookie Betts came through with a two-out, two-run single, plating Vazquez and Travis from second and third to make it a 4-3 contest.
The Yankees’ pen held the Sox in check from there though, as Adam Ottavino, Tommy Kahnle, Zack Britton, and Aroldis Chapman combined to toss four shutout frames from the beginning of the sixth until the end of the ninth.
That’s not to say that Boston did not have any chances to score off those three, because they did.
Like in the sixth, when after falling behind by a run, Sam Travis reached second on a leadoff single and stolen base. Christian Vazquez and Brock Holt both had their shot to drive the runner in, but came up short before Marco Hernandez reached on an eight-pitch walk.
Again, Betts came to the plate with the chance to re-take the lead and instead flew out to center.
In the seventh, a two-out walk drawn by J.D. Martinez off of Kahnle presented Andrew Benintendi with the chance to drive in a run. He struck out on five pitches.
What transpired an inning later was clearly their best scoring chance, as Devers came to the plate with two outs and runners at first and second following a Betts walk.
Having faced the Yankees left-hander four times before Saturday, the 23-year-old took the first two pitches he saw for strikes and opted to take a hack at a third-pitch, 83 MPH sinker in the dirt to retire the side.
And in the ninth, another Martinez free pass, this one with one out, brought the tying run to the plate on two separate occasions against Chapman.
Neither Benintendi, who picked up the Golden Somberero with his fourth strikeout, or Travis, who also fanned, could deliver in the clutch though, and the Red Sox dropped this one by a final score of 6-4 as Chapman notched his 29th save of 2019.
Some notes from this loss:
The Red Sox went 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position on Saturday night. They left 11 men on base as a team.
From Red Sox Notes:
From The Eagle-Tribune’s Chris Mason:
With their losing streak growing to seven games on Saturday, the Red Sox now stand 13 1/2 games back of the Yankees for first place in the American League East and 5 1/2 games back of the Tampa Bay Rays for the second American League Wild Card spot.
It’s been seven full days since the Red Sox last won a game. That’s hard to believe given how it seemed like this turn was about to turn a corner last weekend against these same Yankees.
For the series finale, it will be a pitching matchup featuring a pair of left-handers both making their return from paternity leave, as David Price will get the ball for Boston, while J.A. Happ will do the same for New York.
Since the All-Star break, Price has experienced quite the regression, posting a 6.52 ERA and .301 batting average against over his last four starts and 19 1/3 innings pitched.
The 33-year-old’s only other start at Yankee Stadium so far this season also came on Sunday Night Baseball back on June 2nd, when he held the opposition to just two runs over 6 1/3 quality innings en route to a much-needed win.
Happ, meanwhile, has also struggled since returning from the All-Star break, as he owns an ERA of 5.95 in his last four starts dating back to July 13th.
In two starts against Boston this year, Happ is 1-0 with a 3.18 ERA and .220 batting average against over 11 1/3 total innings of work. The Yankees are 2-0 in those games.
First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 7:05 PM EDT on ESPN. Red Sox looking to get back in the win column and avoid the four-game sweep.