For the first time since last Sunday, the Red Sox did not give up eight or more runs in a game, yet saw their season-worst skid grow to seven games following a 4-2 defeat at the hands of the Yankees once again on Sunday.
Chris Mazza made his first career majoor-league start and second overall appearance for Boston in this one after gettting recalled from the club’s alternate training site in Pawtucket hours before the game.
Working the first three innings of Sunday’s contest, the right-hander surrendered four runs, all of which were earned, on eight hits and one walk to go along with four strikeouts on the night.
The first two of those New York tallies came on a pair of RBI hits from Mike Ford and Aaron Hicks in the bottom halves of the first and second. The other two came in the bottom half of the third, when Ford struck again by following up a Gleyber Torres one-out single by crushing a 2-0, 92 mph sinker from Mazza 429 feet to right-center field fot a two-run home run.
That gave the Yankees a 4-1 lead, and Mazza’s evening came to a close shortly thereafter once he retired the side in the third by getting Brett Gardner to fly out to center and Clint Frazier to fan on five pitches.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 66 (40 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler relied on his sinker 42% of the time he was on the mound Sunday, inducing one swing-and-miss with the pitch. He also topped out at 93.3 mph with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 12 times.
Later hit with his first losing decision of the season while raising his ERA to 6.35, Mazza could still very well get another start for Boston despite this rough showing. If that happens, the Bay Area native could very well take the mound again against the Orioles in Baltimore on Friday.
In relief of Mazza, another pitcher who does not rely on his velocity got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen in the form of Ryan Weber.
Fresh off six one-run innings of relief against the Rays on Wednesday, the right-hander impressed once again on Sunday by sitting down eight of the 10 hitters he faced with the help of a double play over three scoreless frames from the middle of the fourth up until the end of the sixth.
From there, Ryan Brasier danced his way around a bases loaded jam and kept the Yankees off the board despite needing 30 pitches to do so in the eighth, while Marcus Walden bounced back from Thursday’s disastrous outing with a 1-2-3 ninth.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against another veteran left-hander for the Yankees in 37-year-old J.A. Happ, whose last turn through the Yanks’ rotation was actually skipped partly due to his sluggish start to the 2020 season.
As it turns out, Happ was anything but sluggish on Sunday, as he held the opposition to just one run over 5 2/3 innings pitched.
That one Boston run came courtesy of Kevin Pillar, when with two outs and the bases empty in the top of the third, the Red Sox center fielder took a 1-1, 84 mph slider on the inner edge of the strike zone from the Yankees starter and deposited it 382 feet down the left field line for the solo shot.
At the time, Pillar’s second big fly of the season cut his side’s deficit in half at 2-1. However, that deficit would only grow while the Boston bats were held in check by Happ as well as Adam Ottavino and Chad Green out of the Yankees bullpen.
The Sox offense did make a bit of noise in the ninth though, when with Zack Britton on the hill for New York, the pinch-hitting Jose Peraza followed up a Christian Vazquez two-base hit and plated a run on a fielding error committed by the Yankees reliever.
That made it a 4-2 contest and brought the tying run to the plate in the form of Kevin Plawecki, but the veteran backstop whiffed on five pitches, and that was that in what would go down as a two-run defeat.
Some notes and observations from this loss:
Chris Mazza was the 11th different starting pitcher used by the Red Sox through the club’s first 22 games of the season. They are now 6-16 on the year.
The Red Sox allowed four or fewer runs in a game for the first time since August 9, which also happens to be the last time they won.
The Red Sox are 5-20 against the Yankees dating back to the start of the 2019 season. They have been outscored 44-20 by New York in six games this year.
The Red Sox went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position in this one and left six men on base as a team.
Kevin Pillar’s last seven games: 8-for-26 (.308) with one home run, four RBI, and two walks.
Alex Verdugo went 2-for-4 on Sunday with a hard-hit double, a stolen base, and an outfield assist.
From The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham:
Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the finale of this four-game series at Yankee Stadium on Monday night.
Left-hander Martin Perez will get the start for Boston, while fellow southpaw Jordan Montgomery will do the same for New York.
Perez is coming off an outing in which he allowed two runs over 5 2/3 innings of work in a loss to the Rays. The 29-year-old has only made one career start at Yankee Stadium and it did not go too well, as he got shelled for seven runs on 11 hits in five innings pitched on August 12 of the 2018 season.
Montgomery, meanwhile, held Boston to just one run over 5 2/3 innings pitched in his 2020 debut back on July 31. The Red Sox wound up losing that contest by a final score of 5-1.
First pitch Monday is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN, MLB Network, and WEEI. Red Sox looking to put a stop to this losing streak.