Rafael Devers’ 2-homer night goes for naught as Red Sox come up short in 6-5 loss to Yankees

The Red Sox’ struggles against the American League East continued on Thursday night as they suffered a series-opening loss to the Yankees at Fenway Park.

Boston fell to New York by a final score of 6-5 to drop to 9-19 against divisional opponents and 45-38 on the season overall.

Josh Winckowski, making his sixth start of the year for the Sox, immersed himself into the rivalry by allowing six earned runs on six hits, five walks, and two strikeouts over five innings of work.

The rookie right-hander retired six of the first eight batters he faced in the first two innings of Thursday’s contest. He then issued a leadoff walk to No. 9 hitter Joey Gallo to begin things in the third. After Gleyber Torres singled and Giancarlo Stanton drew a two-out walk to load the bases, Winckowski received a visit from pitching coach Dave Bush.

On the other side of that mound visit, Winckowski proceeded to serve up a 429-foot grand slam to Josh Donaldson. Moments after Donaldson crossed home plate, Winckowski gave up a first-pitch solo home run to Aaron Hicks, this giving the Yankees a commanding 5-0 lead.

The Sox were able to get two of those runs back in their half of the third. Matched up against Yankees ace Gerrit Cole, Kevin Plawecki reached base via a one-out single. After Jarren Duran struck out, Rafael Devers got his productive night at the plate started by crushing a 434-foot, two-run blast to right field to make it a 5-2 game.

Winckowski, meanwhile, managed to work his way around two walks in the fourth before running into some more trouble in the fifth. A two-out double from Hicks put a runner at third for Jose Trevino, who hit a 53-foot pop fly to the right side of the infield. First baseman Franchy Cordero put himself in position to catch the ball to retire the side, but he instead misplayed it, which allowed Hicks to easily score his side’s sixth run. Winckowski then got the final out of the inning and ended his night there.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 98 (52 strikes), the 24-year-old induced just three swings-and-misses while relying heavily upon his sinker and slider. He was ultimately charged with his third loss of the season while his ERA rose to 4.35.

Shortly after Winckowski ended the top of the fifth, Devers got to Cole again in the bottom half. Following a leadoff double from Cordero and one-out walk from Plawecki, runners were at the corners with two outs for the soon-to-be two-time All-Star.

Having already seen him give up a homer to Devers, Yankees pitching coach Matt Blake paid Cole a visit on the mound to discuss how they would attack the dangerous left-handed hitter this time around. Whatever strategy they came up with did not work, though, as Devers promptly cranked a 425-foot three-run shot to dead center field.

Devers’ second big fly of the night — and 19th of the season — left his bat at 107. 4 mph. It also cut the Yankees’ lead down to one run at 6-5. Cole, however, did not buckle, as he got through the rest of the fifth before sitting down the final three batters he faced in order in the sixth.

The rest of the night belonged to New York’s vaunted bullpen. While Matt Strahm, John Schreiber, Ryan Brasier (with some defensive help from Trevor Story), and Austin Davis combined for four scoreless frames in relief of Winckowski, the three relievers the Yankees used were just as effective.

Wandy Peralta made quick work of the Sox in the seventh while Michael King stranded one runner in an otherwise quiet eighth inning. When they were down to their final three outs in the ninth, Story, Cordero, and Rob Refsnyder were all retired by Clay Holmes, who needed just 10 pitches to hand the Red Sox their seventh loss in their last 10 games.

Despite the loss, Devers went 2-for-5 with all five of Boston’s RBIs on Wednesday after sitting out the last two games with a sore back and right hamstring. He has now taken Cole deep on six different occasions in the 25 times he has faced off against him.

Next up: Seabold vs. Cortes

The Red Sox will call up right-hander Connor Seabold to start against the Yankees on Friday as Michael Wacha is expected to be placed on the 15-day injured list due to arm discomfort.

Seabold will become the third straight rookie to start a game for Boston. New York will counter with left-hander Nestor Cortes.

First pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 7: 10 p.m. eastern time on NESN and MLB Network.

(Picture of Rafael Devers: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Author: Brendan Campbell

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

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