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.