The Red Sox will not be starting 0-3 for a second consecutive year, as they squeaked out a 4-3 win over the Yankees in the Bronx on Sunday night to avoid a sweep and improve to 1-2 on the young season.
Matched up against Yankees starter Jordan Montgomery to begin things in Sunday’s series finale, the Sox once again got on the board in their half of the first inning.
Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts each reached base via one-out singles, and both scored on a J.D. Martinez RBI double that was followed by a sacrifice fly from Christian Arroyo.
In possession of an early 2-0 lead, Sox starter Tanner Houck had an immediate cushion to work with. The right-hander was not at his sharpest on Sunday, though, as he allowed three earned runs on six hits, three walks, and one hit batsman to go along with three strikeouts over just 3 1/3 innings pitched.
The first of those three runs scored off Houck came with no outs in the bottom of the third, when Giancarlo Stanton plated Anthony Rizzo from second base to cut Boston’s lead in half at 2-1.
After Jonathan Arauz got that run back on a sacrifice fly off Yankees reliever Clarke Schmidt that scored Arroyo in the top half of the fourth, New York struck again in the latter half of the frame.
There, Houck issued back-to-back leadoff hits to Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Jose Trevino to put runners at first and second. He then punched out Josh Donaldson, who turned out to be the final batter he would face.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 78 (45 strikes), Houck turned to his four-seam fastball 45% of the time he was on the mound Sunday and hovered around 95.4 mph with the pitch.
In relief of Houck, Ryan Brasier got the first call from manager Alex Cora out of the Boston bullpen. Brasier, in turn, allowed both of the runners he inherited to score on a then-game-tying two-run single from Rizzo.
Kutter Crawford was next up in the fifth inning and impressed in his second appearance of the season. The 26-year-old righty stranded a pair of runners in scoring position in the fifth before striking out Rizzo and Aaron Judge in a scoreless sixth.
Moments before Crawford did that, Bobby Dalbec broke the 3-3 tie by cranking his first home run of the season off Schmidt. It came on the very first pitch of the sixth inning, a 94 mph sinker down the heart of the plate that Dalbec deposited 391 feet to right-center field to give the Red Sox a 4-3 advantage.
In the seventh, Crawford yielded a leadoff single to Stanton, representing the potential tying run, before making way for Matt Strahm. The left-hander proceeded to strand Stanton at first base by retiring the next three Yankees he faced in order.
From there, Hansel Robles maneuvered his way around a leadoff walk in an otherwise clean eighth inning. And in the ninth, Jake Diekman got his outing started in dramatic fashion by fanning the dangerous Judge on 11 pitches. He then got Stanton and Joey Gallo to strike out swinging as well to lock down his first save in a Red Sox uniform.
All told, five different Boston relievers (Brasier, Crawford, Strahm, Robles, Diekman), combined for 5 2/3 scoreless innings in which they scattered five hits and one walk while striking out a total of six.
Crawford, for what it’s worth, was credited with the winning decision — the first of his young career.
Some other notes from this victory:
From the Red Sox’ J.P. Long:
From The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham:
Next up: To Detroit
The Red Sox will continue their season-opening road trip by heading to Detroit for a three-game set against the Tigers at Comerica Park.
Veteran right-hander Michael Wacha is slated to make his first start of the year for Boston in the series opener on Monday. Detroit will roll with fellow righty Matt Manning.
First pitch Monday is scheduled for 5:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.
(Picture of Bobby Dalbec: Mike Stobe/Getty Images)