The Red Sox certainly had their chances, but lost their hold on a late lead over the Yankees and ultimately fell to their division rivals by a final score of 5-3 in the seven-inning day cap of Tuesday’s doubleheader in the Bronx.
Right from the jump, the Sox lineup had an opportunity to get on the board while matched up against Yankees starter Jordan Montgomery.
With one out in the top of the first inning, Hunter Renfroe ripped a line-drive single to left field. Following a Xander Bogaerts strikeout, Renfroe attempted to go from first to third on another single off the bat of Rafael Devers, but was instead gunned down at third base by Luke Voit to retire the side.
Tanner Houck, meanwhile, made his seventh start (and ninth overall appearance) for Boston after being appointed as the club’s 27th man earlier in the day.
Pitching just four innings, Houck surrendered two runs — both of which were earned — on five hits, no walks, and one hit batsman to go along with two strikeouts on the afternoon.
Both New York runs the right-hander gave up came in his second inning of work when he filled the bases by grazing Luke Voit and issuing a pair of singles to Rougned Odor and Tyler Wade.
Though he was just one out away from escaping the jam, Houck could not get out of it before yielding a two-run single to the Yankees’ No. 9 hitter in Andrew Velazquez.
That sequence allowed New York to jump out to an early 2-0 lead, but the Boston bats countered with two runs of their own a half inning later.
There, in the top of the third, Bobby Dalbec and Enrique Hernandez each reached base with one out and advanced an additional 90 feet on a groundout from Renfroe.
Bogaerts then came through by lacing a game-tying, two-run single to left field that brought in both Dalbec and Hernandez to knot things up at two runs apiece, but was thrown out at first base after rounding the bag to prematurely end the inning.
From there, Houck wrapped up his outing by retiring six of the final eight batters he faced, though he was pulled having thrown all of 58 pitches (39 strikes).
To kick things off in the fifth, Christian Vazquez snapped the 2-2 stalemate by crushing his fifth home run of the season off Montgomery, thus giving his side their first lead of the day at 3-2.
Vazquez’s first homer since June 27, which traveled 409 feet to left field and left his bat at 106.2 mph, very well could have paved the way for the Red Sox to run away with a win, but that was simply not the case.
Why? Because in relief of Houck, the Boston bullpen struggled mightily, particularly in the fifth inning.
Garrett Whitlock got the first out of the fifth rather quickly, then walked back-to-back hitters, which led to him getting the hook from Red Sox manager Alex Cora in favor of Josh Taylor.
Taylor, just back from a short stay on the COVID-19 related injured list, had control issues of his own, as the left-hander walked Joey Gallo to fill the bases before issuing a softly-hit two-run single to Voit.
Voit’s clutch hit was just out of the reach of Hernandez in shallow center field, but it was still good enough to give the Yankees a 4-3 lead. The pinch-hitting Giancarlo Stanton followed by drilling another RBI single off Taylor, providing what would prove to be an important insurance run in doing so.
Hansel Robles took over for Taylor with one out in the fifth, got out of the inning, and also got the first two outs of the sixth before fellow trade deadline acquisition Austin Davis came on to finish it without allowing a single run to cross the plate.
All in all, though, four different Red Sox relievers combined to walk six batters in just two total innings of work out of the Boston bullpen.
Despite those struggles, the Sox still had a chance to pull off what would have been an epic comeback in their half of the seventh.
With righty Jonathan Loaisiga on the hill looking to protect a two-run lead for New York, Kyle Schwarber, Vazquez, Alex Verdugo all reached base to fill the bases with no outs.
In that crucial spot, Bobby Dalbec was slated to hit next for Boston, but was instead pinch-hit for by the recently-acquired Travis Shaw.
Shaw, making his first appearance for the Red Sox in nearly five years, worked a six-pitch at-bat against Loaisiga, but ultimately flew out to left field without bringing in Schwarber from third.
Hernandez followed by getting ahead in the count against Loaisiga at 0-3, but the Yankees reliever battled back to punch out the right-handed hitter on six pitches.
Down to their final out, Renfroe went down on four pitches, meaning the Red Sox stranded three runners on base to seal a frustrating 5-3 defeat at the hands of the Yankees.
With the loss, the Sox see their three-game winning streak come to an end as they fall to 69-52 on the season.
Next up: Eovaldi vs. Gil
Boston will send right-hander Nathan Eovaldi to the hill in the night cap of Tuesday’s doubleheader at Yankee Stadium. New York will counter with fellow righty Luis Gil.
First pitch Tuesday night is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN and MLB Network.
(Picture of Garrett Whitlock: Adam Hunger/Getty Images)