Bullpen Falls Apart Again as Red Sox Get Swept by Yankees in London Series

After combining for 30 runs in the London Series opener on Saturday, the Red Sox and New York Yankees were back at it again on Sunday, this time combining for 20 runs on 28 total hits in a 12-8 loss for the Sox.

Making his 17th start of the season for Boston and first against New York was Eduardo Rodriguez, who entered Sunday having gone at least 6 1/3 innings deep in three straight outings for the first time in his career.

Working into the sixth inning of this one, the left-hander yielded just two runs, both earned, on four hits and a season-high four walks to go along with five strikeouts on the afternoon.

Both of those Yankees runs came in the second inning, when after his team built an early four-run lead, Rodriguez gave two back right away by loading the bases with the first three hitters he faced to bring Gio Urshela to the plate.

Urshela drove in Edwin Encarnacion from third by grounding into a force out at second that very nearly could have been a double play had it been handled cleanly by Xander Bogaerts, and Brett Gardner made it a 4-2 game by scoring Didi Gregorius on an RBI single to right.

Other than that, Rodriguez proceeded to fill the bases again with two outs by walking Aaron Judge on six pitches, but managed to escape the jam by fanning Aaron Hicks on a 1-2, 95 MPH slider.

From there, Rodriguez sat down 10 of the final 12 Yankees he faced, and his outing came to a close on a positive note with a strikeout of Gregorius on a 94 MPH fastball for the first out of the sixth.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 115 (64 strikes) to set a new season-high, the 26-year-old hurler relied on his four-seamer nearly 42% of the time he was on the mound Sunday, inducing five swings and misses and topping out at 96.1 MPH with the pitch while Christian Vazquez was behind the plate.

Not able to pick up the winning decision due to what transpired later, Rodriguez finishes his month of June with an ERA of 4.38 over his last six outings. He’ll look to build on this performance in his next time out, which should come against the Detroit Tigers next weekend.

In relief of Rodriguez, Colten Brewer came on with two outs to get in the top half of the sixth, and he did just that by stranding a runner at first thanks to two straight punchouts.

Marcus Walden got the call for the seventh, and this is the point where things really took a turn for the worst for Boston, as DJ LeMahieu led the inning off with a double and Judge followed that up by drawing a walk.

Back-to-back RBI knocks off the bats of Hicks and Gary Sanchez put three runs on the board for the Yankees, and just like that, the Red Sox were down 5-4. Another blown save, the club’s 17th of the year.

A struggling Matt Barnes was up next out of the Sox bullpen, and he walked and fanned the two first two men he faced before giving up an infield single to Gleyber Torres and a two-run single to Urshela, making it a 7-4 contest.

Josh Taylor entered the seventh in place of Barnes, and he too put the first man he faced on base with a free pass, which set up the scorching LeMahieu in a prime run-scoring spot, and he took full advantage by lacing a two-run, ground-rule double down the eight field line. 9-4.

An intentional walk of Judge reloaded the bases for New York, and a sacrifice fly from Hicks, as well as Sanchez reaching first on a fielding error committed by Chavis, capped off a nine-run frame for the Yankees high-octane offense and gave them an 11-4 lead.

Ryan Brasier served up a leadoff solo homer to Gregorius in the eighth to make it a 12-4 game, and Steven Wright tossed a 1-2-3 top half of the ninth to give his team one last shot in their half, although that attempt came up short, which is what we’ll get to next.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against left-hander Stephen Tarpley, serving as the opener for New York in this one.

Similar to what went down on Saturday, the Boston bats got the scoring started right away in the first inning on Sunday, with Rafael Devers reaching on a one-out single and Xander Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez, and Christian Vazquez all homering off Tarpley giving the Sox an early four-run advantage in doing so.

Since Tarpley was only the opener though, his day came to an end after that bottom half of the first, and the Yankees bullpen really limited what the Red Sox could do up until the eighth, as they did not send more than four hitters to the plate in any of the next six innings.

In that eighth, having fallen behind 12-4 with right-hander Chance Adams on the mound for New York, back-to-back one out singles from Marco Hernandez and Martinez, followed by a wild pitch, put runners in scoring position for Vazquez, who capitalized on that mistake by driving in both runners on a two-run single to left to cut the deficit to six runs at 12-6.

A Jackie Bradley Jr. single put runners at the corners for Eduardo Nunez, and he too came through in a run-scoring spot with a line-drive RBI double to right, plating Vazquez and moving Bradley Jr. up to third. 12-7.

A pitching change for the Yanks saw left-hander Zack Brittion take over for Adams, and Sam Travis promptly greeted the new pitcher by ripping another RBI single through the left side of the infield, scoring Bradley Jr. and trimming New York’s advantage down to four at 12-8.

Mookie Betts drew a walk to fill the bases for Rafael Devers, now representing the tying run, but in a tough lefty-on-lefty matchup, the young infielder could only ground a 3-2 slider weakly to first base, and the rally was dead.

Finally, in the ninth, Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman yielded a leadoff double to Hernandez before proceeding to punch out the next three Red Sox hitters he faced to wrap up this 12-8 loss for the Red Sox.

Some notes from this loss:

From MLB.com’s Ian Browne:

From The Boston Herald’s Jason Mastrodonato:

The Red Sox are 1-6 against the Yankees this season and are now 11 games back of first place in the American League East.

The London Series experience was not much a positive one for the Red Sox, as they leave the United Kingdom in a worse position than when they arrived there.

Sox manager Alex Cora still has the belief that this club can compete at a high level, but given the product recently, it has become difficult to determine whether or not they can compete with the best teams in the American League.

The Red Sox lost two home games for this. Not like they were playing at a high level at Fenway Park anyway, but yeah.

It’s already been say, but the Red Sox got embarrassed on a national stage by their biggest rival. Their bullpen melted down not once, but twice, and now they have an extremely slim chance of catching up to the Yankees in the race for the AL East.

If Boston wants to get back in to this, they have to start winning games at a high rate, and that starts on Tuesday in the first of a three-game set against the lowly Toronto Blue Jays north of the border.

Left-hander David Price is expected to get the ball for the series opener, while rookie right-hander Trent Thornton will do the same for Toronto.

Since allowing six runs in 1 1/3 innings against the Texas Rangers on June 13th, Price has surrendered just four (three earned) in his last two starts and 11 innings pitched.

In 18 career outings at Rogers Centre, the 33-year-old has posted a lifetime 3.17 ERA over 116 1/3 total innings of work. He is 13-1 in those starts.

Thornton, meanwhile, last faced Boston on June 21st, where he gave up two runs on eight hits over 6 1/3 innings in a losing effort.

When pitching at home this season, the 25-year-old is 0-3 with a 6.39 ERA in seven starts and 31 innings pitched.

First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 7:07 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox looking to get on a roll.

 

Rick Porcello Allows Six Runs, Only Records One out as Red Sox Fall to Yankees 17-13 in Historic and Wild London Series Opener

NOTE: The information I would usually include from Baseball Savant was only made available while this game was happening, so that is why it is not presented here. Sorry about that.

After two days off, the Red Sox and New York Yankees finally kicked off the highly anticipated inaugural London Series at Olympic Stadium on Saturday, and the Sox lost the first ever Major League Baseball game played on European soil by a final score of 17-13 to fall 10 games off the pace for first place in the American League East.

Making his 17th start of the season and second against New York was Rick Porcello, who made history Saturday by becoming the first big league pitcher to make a start on the other side of the Atlantic.

Recording just the first out of this one, the right-hander was downright walloped by the Yankees high-octane offense, as he surrendered six runs, all of which were earned, on five hits and one walk to go along with zero strikeouts on the afternoon.

That one out came on a flyout off the bat of Aaron Judge after DJ LeMahieu had reached base to start things off.

Other than that, Porcello followed with a one-out walk of Gary Sanchez before serving up back-to-back-to-back run-scoring doubles to Luke Voit, Didi Gregorious, and Edwin Encarnacion, which put the Yankees up four.

With two outs still to get, Porcello’s outing came to an abrupt close six pitchers later when Aaron Hicks took him deep to right on a 2-2 pitch to give his side a new six-run lead.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 33 (20 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler had Christian Vazquez, not Sandy Leon, behind the plate.

Hit with the no-decision in the shortest start of his big league career, Porcello wraps up a dismal month of June in which he posted a 6.46 ERA over six starts and 30 2/3 innings of work, including that seven-inning shutout performance against the Minnesota Twins on the 17th. He’ll look for improved results in his next time out, which should come against the Detroit Tigers next weekend.

In relief of Porcello, the Red Sox bullpen had their work cut out for them Saturday, as they would wind up responsible for the final 8 2/3 frames of this contest.

Colten Brewer entered with one out and the bases empty in the first, and he walked the first man he faced in Gleyber Torres before retiring the last two hitters of the inning.

Steven Wright, in his second appearance since returning from an 80-game suspension, yielded a pair of Yankees runs on a two-out, two-run homer off the bat of Brett Gardner in the fourth, which gave New York a brand new 8-6 advantage, and that is how the knuckleballer was saddled with his first losing decision of the year.

From there, rookie right-hander Mike Shawaryn got rocked for eight earned runs, six of which came in consecutive order in the fourth on a bases-loaded walk drawn by Gardner, a bases-clearing double from LeMahieu, and another two-run dinger from Aaron Judge to make it a 14-6 game.

In the fifth, three more Yankees runs crossed the plate on an RBI base knock from Didi Gregorious while Shawaryn was still out there, and a two-run single from the red-hot LeMahieu while the left-handed Josh Taylor, who ended the inning, was on the mound.

At 17-6, it looked like this one was all but over for Boston, but with the efforts of Ryan Brasier, Hector Velazquez, and Marcus Walden combining for four frames of scoreless baseball from the beginning of the sixth up until the middle of the ninth, the Red Sox were nearly able to climb their way back, which is what we’ll get into next.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a formidable opponent in Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who had yet to face Boston this season before Saturday.

Coming to the plate for the first time already down a sizable margin, Rafael Devers got the scoring started for his side by driving in Mookie Betts all the way from first following a leadoff single on a long double to right field. 6-1.

Two walks of JD Martinez and Xander Bogaerts later to fill the bases, Christian Vazquez cut into that deficit even further, plating Devers from third on a sacrifice fly to right for the second out of the inning.

Brock Holt cut the initial six-run hole in half with an RBI single to score Bogaerts and move Martinez up to second, and Michael Chavis erased the original deficit entirely by mashing a three-run home run to left center field for his 13th of the season.

That bomb knotted things up at six, but the Yankees pulled away once more, at one point padding an 11-run lead until the Red Sox got on the board again in their half of the sixth.

There, with reliever Nestor Cortes Jr. in for New York, Jackie Bradley Jr. stayed hot by leading the inning off with his ninth big fly of the year, a long solo shot to bring the Sox back to within 10 runs.

Given that large of a deficit in the later stages of this contest, manager Alex Cora went ahead and removed Andrew Benintendi and Devers to begin the seventh, replacing them with Sam Travis and Marco Hernandez respectively while also moving Vazquez to third and putting Sandy Leon in behind the plate.

In that seventh inning, the Boston bats continued to dig with four straight two-out hits against Cortes Jr., the third of which was Chavis’ second two-run dinger of the night to make it a 17-10 game in favor of New York.

A Bradley Jr. single got Cortes out and brought right-hander Tommy Kahnle in, who proceeded to walk Betts and throw a wild pitch in his matchup against Hernandez, which allowed both runners to move into scoring position.

Hernandez took full advantage of that mistake from Kahnle by driving in Bradley Jr. on an RBI infield single, and Betts scored as well on another wild pitch from the Yankees reliever on ball four to Bogaerts. 17-12

Another pitching chane for New York saw Adam Ottavino take over for Kahnle, and Martinez greeted him promptly with an RBI double, allowing Hernandez to score from second and bring the Red Sox back to within grand slam range, or four runs.

Unfortunately, that would wind up being the last Boston run to cross the plate, as Travis popped out to first with runners at second and third to end the seventh, Hernandez grounded out to third with the bases loaded to end the eighth, and Aroldis Chapman faced the minimum three batters in a scoreless ninth, sealing a 17-13 loss for the Red Sox.

Some notes from this loss:

Xander Bogaerts departed in the seventh inning Saturday due to cramping in both of his calfs. He is day-to-day and is hopeful to play Sunday.

Saturday’s nine-inning game lasted four hours and 42 minutes. Both teams combined for 30 runs on 37 hits and 12 walks, all without committing a single error.

DJ LeMahieu recorded the first hit in Europe in Major League Baseball history, while Aaron Hicks recorded the first home run.

Michael Chavis’ last 15 games: .318/.357/.530 with four home runs and 14 RBI.

More from Chavis, courtesy of The Boston Herald’s Jason Mastrodonato:

Rafael Devers’ last 15 games: .443/.460/.754 with three home runs and 10 RBI.

The first Major League Baseball game to ever be played in Europe was a wild one, but at the end of the day, the Red Sox dropped a contest to a divisional opponent and are now 10 games back of the Yankees for first place in the American League East.

With that third straight division title becoming more and more out of reach, how the Red Sox go about the next few weeks leading to the July 31st trade deadline should be worth paying attention to.

Anyway, next up for the Red Sox, it’s the finale of this two-game London Series against the Bronx Bombers on Sunday afternoon.

Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez will get the ball for Boston, and will probably be asked to pitch deep into his 17th start of the year, while fellow southpaw Stephen Tarpley will do the same for New York by serving as their opener.

Neither Rodriguez nor Tarpley have faced the Yankees or Red Sox so far this season.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 10:10 AM EDT on ESPN. Red Sox going for the split before taking off for Toronto.

 

 

Red Sox Place Brian Johnson on Injured List with ‘Non-Baseball Related Medical Matter’

Before making history in London on Saturday, the Red Sox placed left-hander Brian Johnson on the 10-day injured list due to a “non-baseball related medical matter that was discovered during routine testing by the club’s medical staff.”

In a corresponding move, right-hander Hector Velazquez was activated from the 10-day injured list.

Also, first baseman/outfielder Sam Travis was added to Boston’s roster to serve as the 26th man for the London Series, while catcher Oscar Hernandez traveled with the team to serve as catching depth. The club made the transactions official earlier Saturday.

Per the release, Johnson should be able to pitch again this season, although it’s not clear what the non-medical issue is exactly.

Through seven appearances (two starts) this season, the 28-year-old has posted a 6.43 ERA and .349 batting average against over 14 innings pitched. From April 6th to June 14th, Johnson missed 61 games due to inflammation in his throwing elbow.

Velazquez, meanwhile, was activated from the 10-day IL after missing exactly 10 days with a lower back strain suffered in that 17-inning loss to the Minnesota Twins back on June 18th. It’s the second time this year the 30-year-old has dealt with lower back issues.

In 19 outings (seven starts) so far in 2019, Velazquez owns an ERA of 5.59 and batting average against of .255 through 38 2/3 total innings of work.