For the first time in more than five months, the Red Sox lost while wearing their yellow City Connect uniforms in Friday’s series opener against the Yankees at Fenway Park.
Boston was walloped by New York and fell to their division rivals by a final score of 8-3, marking the end of their impressive seven-game winning streak.
Nathan Eovaldi, making his 31st start of the season, was far from sharp while going up against his former team and actually put together one of his worst outings of the year to date.
In just 2 2/3 innings of work, Eovaldi got rocked for seven runs — all of which were earned — on seven hits and two walks to go along with zero strikeouts on the night.
Right from the jump, it was apparent that the veteran right-hander did not have everything going for him on Friday, as evidenced by him striking out none of the 17 batters he faced.
The Yankees got to Eovaldi for three early on, with D.J. LeMahieu and Anthony Rizzo ripping a pair of singles to lead off the top half of the first before Aaron Judge plated LeMahieu on a hard-hit RBI double to left-center field that also put runners at second and third base.
Giancarlo Stanton got his productive night at the plate by bringing in Rizzo on a run-scoring groundout, while Gleyber Torres scored Judge on an RBI single back up the middle that gave New York a 3-0 lead.
After retiring the side in order in the second, Eovaldi ran into more trouble in the third, when he yielded a leadoff double to Rizzo, issued a four-pitch walk to Judge, then served up a booming, 386-foot three-run blast that found its way into the Red Sox bullpen.
Eovaldi allowed another single before recording the first two outs of the third, but a seven-pitch walk of Brett Gardner would unofficially mark the end of his evening as he got the hook from Sox manager Alex Cora.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 59 (37 strikes), the 31-year-old hurler induced a total of three swings-and-misses while seeing his ERA on the season inflate to 3.88.
Hirokazu Sawamura got the first call from Cora out of the Boston bullpen, and he promptly got the first batter he faced, Kyle Higashioka to lift a 63-foot flyball to the right side of the pitcher’s mound that should have gone for the final out of the inning.
It instead went for an RBI infield single, as first baseman Kyle Schwarber failed to catch the ball and Joey Gallo scored all the way from second and Higashioka reached first safely as a result. That blunder officially closed the book on Eovaldi’s night while putting the Yankees up 7-0.
Sawamura got through the rest of the third inning unscathed, though, and he also put up a pair of zeroes in the fourth and fifth to put the finishing touches on his longest outing of the year (2 1/3 innings).
Matt Barnes followed suit by stranding one runner at second base while striking out a pair in a scoreless top half of the sixth, and that set the stage for the Red Sox lineup to finally get something going offensively in the bottom half.
To that point, the Boston bats had been held in check by Yankees starter Gerrit Cole, managing just two hits off the ace right-hander through the first five innings of Friday’s contest.
Their fortunes changed in the sixth, however, and it started when Enrique Hernandez laced a single to right field that was followed by another single from Schwarber to lead things off.
Rafael Devers, coming to the plate with one out, runners at the corners, and a chance to do some damage did just that. The left-handed slugger crushed a 1-0, 89 mph changeup from Cole and sent it 373 feet down the right field line to finally get his side on the board courtesy of the three-run shot.
Devers’ 35th home run of the season trimmed the deficit down to four runs at 7-3, but any momentum the Sox may have garnered was quickly dashed when New York got one of those runs back , as Torres went deep off newly-inserted Boston reliever Martin Perez to lead off the seventh and make it an 8-3 game.
Perez, despite giving up his fair share of hard contact, managed to keep the Yankees lineup at bay from there, but it was not enough to mount a rally on the other side.
Bobby Dalbec, pinch-hitting for Schwarber with two outs in the seventh, punched out to strand a pair of runners in the bottom half of the inning.
Alex Verdugo grounded out to end the eighth inning with a runner on base, while Hunter Renfroe, the pinch-hitting Travis Shaw, and Hernandez went down in the ninth to seal an 8-3 defeat for the Sox.
With the loss, the Red Sox fall to 88-66 on the season as their seven-game winning streak is snapped. They now hold just a one-game lead over the Yankees for the top American League Wild Card spot.
Next up: Pivetta vs. Cortes
The Red Sox will look to bounce back and even up this three-game weekend series on Saturday afternoon by sending right-hander Nick Pivetta to the mound.
The Yankees will counter by turning to left-hander Nestor Cortes, who has yet to start against the Red Sox this season but has seen them twice as a reliever back in June and July.
With the pressure now squarely on the Red Sox, first pitch Saturday is scheduled for 4:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN and MLB Network. It’s safe to assume that Boston will go back to wearing their traditional home uniforms.
(Picture of Nathan Eovaldi: Jim Rogash/Getty Images)