Masataka Yoshida homers as part of 5-run first inning, but Red Sox still fall to Pirates, 7-6

The Red Sox homered three times, but it was not enough to overcome another poor starting pitching performance in the first of three against the Pirates on Monday night. Boston fell to Pittsburgh by a final score of 7-6 at Fenway Park to drop to 2-2 on the young season.

Kutter Crawford, making his first start of the year after breaking camp as a member of the starting rotation, struggled in his 2023 debut. The right-hander surrendered seven earned runs on eight hits and two walks to go along with six strikeouts over just four innings of work.

Three of those seven runs came right away in the top of the first. Crawford allowed hits to two of the first four batters he faced, including a one-out pop-up single that should have been caught by Rafael Devers. He then gave up a two-out RBI single to Ke’Bryan Hayes. Canaan Smith-Njigba followed with a three-run double to extend the Pirates’ lead to 3-0 right out of the gate.

Despite falling behind early yet again, the Red Sox responded in their half of the first. Matched up against Pirates starter Johan Oviedo, Devers made up for his blunder by crushing a one-out, 424-foot solo shot to dead center for his first home run of the season. After Bryan Reynolds dropped a fly ball that allowed Justin Turner to reach base safely, Masataka Yoshida came through with the first home run of his big-league career: a 390-foot two-run blast over the Green Monster.

Yoshida’s first homer in a Red Sox uniform knotted things up at three runs apiece. That stalemate did not last long, though, as reigning American League Player of the Week Adam Duvall drew a one-out walk and Triston Casas looped a towering two-run shot to the left of Pesky’s Pole to put Boston up, 5-3.

Reynolds, like Devers, made up for his error in the field by mashing a solo home run off Crawford with two outs in the second. The Pirates then pulled back even with the Sox an inning later when Jack Suwinski scored Hayes on a two-out single. Crawford ran into more trouble in the fourth by serving up two more solo shots to Jason Delay and Reynolds, giving Pittsburgh a 7-5 lead.

In his four innings of work, Crawford threw 93 pitches (59 strikes). Though the 27-year-old hurler induced 15 swings-and-misses, he also gave up six hits that had exit velocities of 100 mph or more. With Crawford’s outing in the books, Red Sox starters now own a 12.91 ERA (22 earned runs in 15 1/3 innings) so far this year.

After breaking out for five runs in the first, the Boston lineup quited down for a bit. There were opportunities to score, but Connor Wong was stranded at third in the fourth and struck out with the bases loaded to end things in the fifth. On the heels of two scoreless frames of relief from Zack Kelly, though, the Sox were able to get something going in the latter half of the sixth.

There, Alex Verdugo led off with a single and moved up to second when Yoshida drew a six-pitch walk. Duvall then greeted new Pirates reliever Duane Underwood Jr. with a broken-bat RBI single that plated Verdugo and cut the deficit to one. Yoshida advanced into scoring position on the play, but he and Duvall were left on base when Casas fanned to end the inning.

Richard Bleier and Kaleb Ort combined for two more shutout innings out of the bullpen before Verdugo led off the bottom of the eighth with a single off Colin Holderman. Turner walked and Yoshida advanced both runners on a one-out groundout, but Duvall grounded out himself to extinguish the threat.

Down to their final three outs after Ryan Brasier worked a scoreless top of the ninth, the Red Sox were up against All-Star closer David Bednar. The pinch-hitting Raimel Tapia made things interesting by beating out a one-out infield single, but Bednar prevailed by fanning Enrique Hernandez and Rob Refsnyder to end it.

All told, the Red Sox went 2-for-9 (.222) with runners in scoring position on Monday and left 12 runners on base as a team.

Duvall’s dominance

Adam Duvall s the first player ever to reach base as many as 13 times (10 hits, two walks, one hit-by-pitch) in his first four games as a member of the Red Sox, according to director of baseball communications and media relations J.P. Long.

Next up: Pivetta vs. Contreras

The Red Sox will look to bounce back against the Pirates on Tuesday night. Nick Pivetta will make his season debut for Boston while Pittsburgh will counter with fellow right-hander Roansy Contreras.

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

(Picture of Masataka Yoshida: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)


Author: Brendan Campbell

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

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