A change of venue could not turn things around for the Red Sox on Friday night, as they saw their losing streak grow to to five in an 8-3 series-opening defeat at the hands of the Yankees at Yankee Stadium.
Colten Brewer made his first career start and his seventh overall appearance of the season for Boston to kick off the weekend, and his first taste of the opener role was not very favorable.
That being the case because over 2 2/3 innings of work, the right-hander surrendered two runs, both of which were earned, on four hits and three walks to go along with two strikeouts on the night.
Both of those New York tallies came in the bottom half of the third, when after escaping a bases loaded jam in the first and retiring three of the four hitters he faced in the second, Brewer served up a one-out, two-run double to Gleyber Torres off a 2-1 heater on the outer half of the plate to put his side in a 2-0 hole.
That damaging blow was followed by a Mike Tauchman pop out, and thus marked the end of Brewer’s rather stressful outing.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 73 (41 strikes), the 27-year-old hurler turned to his four-seam fastball 51% of the time he was on the mound Friday, inducing two swings and misses and topping out at 95.2 mph with the pitch.
Eventually hit with his first loss of the season, it’s unclear at this point if Brewer will get another crack in the opener role anytime soon. In the meantime, I would expect him to make his next appearance as a reliever.
Speaking of relief pitchers, Austin Brice got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen in relief of Brewer, as the 28-year-old came on with one out to get in the bottom half of the third, got that out on a grounder, and also punched out the side in the fourth. A nice bounce-back effort from him after Tuesday’s rough showing.
From there, Ryan Brasier was responsible for the fifth, recorded the first two outs relatively easily, but then ran into a whole world of trouble following a single from Torres.
A few moments after giving up that base hit, the soon-to-be 33-year-old fell behind in the count against Tauchman at 3-2, which first baseman Mitch Moreland saw as a chance to play behind the base since Torres would be running with two outs.
Brasier, however, did not pick up on this, as he instead cocked back like he was ready to throw over to Moreland, but with no one covering the bag, a balk was called and Torres was awarded second base.
That bout of sloppiness, which was also bountiful on Thursday, came back to bite the Sox almost immediately when Tauchan proceeded to lift a run-scoring double to left to bring in Torres.
To make matters even worse, the ever-dangerous Gary Sanchez followed that up by absolutely demolishing a 1-2, 96 mph fastball on the outer half of the plate from Brasier and deposited it 457 feet into the left field bleachers.
Brasier did manage to get Clint Frazier to whiff to finally end the inning, but the damage had already been done as the Yankees went into the sixth with a 5-1 edge.
The recently-recalled Dylan Covey, celebrating his 29th birthday on Friday, was next up for Boston, and he tossed a scoreless bottom of the sixth before getting rocked for three runs on four hits in the seventh.
That late outburst increased New York’s run total to eight, and they tacked on two more against Brandon Workman in the ninth before Marcus Walden wrapped things up to hold the deficit at seven runs. Not like it mattered much in the end anyway.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Yankees ace right-hander Gerrit Cole, who was making his first start against Boston while donning the pinstripes. To put his outing in simple terms, the $324 million man came as advertised.
As a matter of fact, the only ounce of offense the Boston bats could produce off Cole was not until the fourth inning.
There, after the Yanks starter had faced the minimum nine batters through his first three innings of work, Red Sox leadoff man re-introduced himself to Cole in the fourth by crushing a 385-foot solo shot to deep right field.
Verdugo’s fourth homer of the season cut his side’s deficit in half at 2-1, and they nearly scored again an inning later, but as he is expected to do, Cole held the Red Sox in check. He finished his night with no walks and eight strikeouts over seven quality frames.
Fortunately, Cole was only able to go seven innings, and the Sox took advantage of that right away in their half of the eighth when Verdugo and Rafael Devers picked up an RBI each off Jonathan Holder to make it an 8-3 contest.
Alas, three runs is all the Red Sox would be limited to, as Adam Ottavino closed things out in the eighth and Ben Heller secured the 10-3 victory for New York and 10-3 loss for Boston in the ninth.
Some notes and observations from this defeat:
From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:
From The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham:
From MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith:
The Red Sox’ No. 3-5 hitters, J.D. Martinez, Xander Bogaerts, and Mitch Moreland, went a combined 1-for-12 with eight strikeouts on Friday.
Friday’s game took 3 hours and 35 minutes. Going into the weekend, the Red Sox were third in baseball in average time per game (3 hours and 19 minutes).
Next up for the Red Sox, the second-third of the 2020 major-league season begins on Saturday night in the Bronx.
Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi will be getting the ball for Boston, while left-hander James Paxton will be doing the same for New York.
Eovaldi is coming off six quality innings of three-run ball to go along with 10 strikeouts in his last time out against the Blue Jays. The 30-year-old, who once played for the Yankees, owns a lifetime 3.54 ERA and .687 OPS against in 28 career outings (26 starts) at the Stadium.
Paxton, meanwhile, has allowed exactly three eanred runs in each of his first three starts this season. The 31-year-old made four starts against the Sox in 2019 and went 3-1 with a 3.28 ERA over 24 2/3 total innings pitched.
First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 7:07 p.m. eastern time on FOX and WEEI. Red Sox looking to snap out of this slump.