Red Sox blow early lead, fall to Yankees, 6-5, in 11 innings on Opening Day

For the fourth time under manager Alex Cora, the Red Sox have lost on Opening Day. The Sox kicked off the 2022 season by falling to the Yankees, 6-5, in 11 innings at Yankee Stadium on Friday afternoon.

Right out of the gate, Boston jumped all over New York ace Gerrit Cole, who began his day by issuing a four-pitch, leadoff walk to Enrique Hernandez in the first inning.

Rafael Devers immediately made Cole pay for that by taking the right-hander deep to right field on a two-run blast that left his bat at 101.4 mph and travelled 382 feet. Devers’ first home run of the season gave the Red Sox an early 2-0 lead.

Xander Bogaerts followed Devers by lacing a 111.8 mph base hit to left field and scored his side’s third run on an RBI double off the bat of J.D. Martinez. And just like that, Boston had plated three runs before recording a single out.

A three-run first inning seemingly put Sox starter Nathan Eovaldi in a good spot heading into the bottom half of the frame. Making his third consecutive Opening Day start for Boston, Eovaldi instead ran into some trouble when he issued a one-out single to Aaron Judge and two-run home run to Anthony Rizzo shortly thereafter.

So the Red Sox’ early three-run cushion had been trimmed down to one run after just one inning of play. Eovaldi and Cole both settled in for a bit, but it was the former who fell victim to the long ball once more in the fourth.

There, the dangerous Giancarlo Stanton ripped a vintage Yankee Stadium home run to right field that had a launch angle of only 15 degrees. Still, Stanton’s 358-foot solo shot knotted things up at three runs apiece.

Eovaldi got through the rest of the fourth, then put two runners on via a single and hit batsman while recording the first two outs of the fifth. The veteran right-hander nearly saw the 3-3 tie come apart when he yielded a screaming fly ball to D.J. LeMahieu, but Alex Verdugo bailed him out by making an impressive diving catch in left field.

That is how Eovaldi’s first outing of the year came to a close. All told, the 32-year-old hurler allowed three runs (all earned) on five hits, one walk, one hit batsman, and seven strikeouts over five innings of work. He threw 76 pitches (56 strikes) and averaged 98.2 mph with his vaunted four-seam fastball.

Shortly after Eovaldi’s day ended, the Red Sox lineup picked things back up in their half of the sixth. With Yankees reliever Clay Holmes now in the game, Bogaerts led off with a double and immediately advanced to third base on a Martinez groundout.

Following a brief mound visit, Verdugo came through on the other side of the ball by easily plating Bogaerts on a run-scoring single through the right side of the infield.

After Holmes and fellow reliever Miguel Castro proceeded to load the bases with two outs, the Sox failed to add on to their newfound 4-3 lead as Christian Vazquez fanned on four pitches to extinguish the threat.

Former Yankees prospect Garrett Whitlock got the call from Cora to take over for Eovaldi beginning in the latter of the sixth. The hard-throwing righty breezed through the sixth and seventh by retiring six of the first seven batters he faced.

The eighth inning, however, was a different story. After giving up all of six home runs last season, Whitlock served up a game-tying solo blast to LeMahieu that pulled New York back even with Boston at 4-4.

Whitlock then made way for newcomer Matt Strahm, who worked his way around a walk to get through the rest of the eighth. A half-inning later, Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman made relatively quick work of Bobby Dalbec, Christian Arroyo (pinch-hitting for Jackie Bradley Jr.), and Vazquez to keep the stalemate intact.

In the bottom of the ninth, Hansel Robles — two days after making the team — was dispatched in a critical spot. The veteran reliever made just two appearances this spring after signing with Boston late and managed to strand the potential winning run at second base by fanning Stanton for the final out of the inning.

With Robles sending this one into extras, Jonathan Arauz became the automatic runner at second base to begin things in the 10th as he replaced Vazquez. Hernandez failed to advance Arauz, but Bogaerts did not.

After the Yankees elected to intentionally walk Devers with one out, Bogaerts delivered by lifting an RBI single to shallow left field. The ball only travelled 187 feet off Bogaerts’ bat, but it was deep enough to score Arauz from second base to give the Sox a 5-4 advantage.

Jake Diekman was tasked with protecting that lead in the latter half of the 10th. The left-hander plunked the first man he faced in LeMahieu then got Joey Gallo to ground out to second, though runners advanced to second and third for New York.

That sequence prompted the Red Sox to intentionally walk Aaron Hicks, thus loading the bases as Cora dipped back into the bullpen and handed things over to Ryan Brasier.

Brasier, inheriting a mess, gave up the tying run on a sacrifice fly from Gleyber Torres, but escaped any further damage by punching out Isiah Kiner-Filefa on 10 pitches.

After the Red Sox went down quietly in the top of the 11th, Kutter Crawford came on for Brasier in the bottom half. With Kiner-Filefa representing the go-ahead run at second base, Crawford surrendered the game-winning hit to Josh Donaldson.

Donaldson snuck a single through the middle of the infield, giving Kiner-Filefa more than enough time to score from second to walk it off for the Yankees. Crawford, despite throwing just three pitches, was charged with the loss.

Some notes from this 6-5 defeat:

On the injury front, Xander Bogaerts exited the game in the middle of the 10th inning after appearing to injure himself on his run-scoring single. He was replaced by Jonathan Arauz at shortstop.

Trevor Story, making his Red Sox debut on Friday, went 0-for-5 with a strikeout.

The Red Sox went 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position and left seven runners on base as a team.

Next up: Pivetta vs. Severino

The Red Sox will turn to Nick Pivetta on Saturday as they look for their first win of the young season. The Yankees will roll with fellow right-hander Luis Severino, who will be making his first start since 2019.

First pitch from Yankee Stadium on Saturday afternoon is scheduled for 4:05 p.m. eastern time. The game will be televised on NESN and FS1.

(Picture of Josh Donaldson: Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Author: Brendan Campbell

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

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