Red Sox’ rain-shortened 3-1 loss to Yankees overshadowed by fan throwing baseball at Alex Verdugo

Well, after two days of waiting, Jarren Duran’s highly-anticipated major-league debut was certainly an eventful one.

The Red Sox ultimately fell to the Yankees by a final score of 3-1 in a rain-shortened, six-inning contest at Yankee Stadium on Saturday night, but not before two rain delays, two ejections, one player getting hit in the back by a baseball thrown by a fan, and a period of time where baseball was being played in an absolute downpour.

Still, Boston saw their unbeaten run against their division rivals come to a close on Saturday, as they are now 7-1 this year when facing off against New York.

Nathan Eovaldi made his 19th start of the season for the Sox, and he was once again solid while going up against his former team.

Over five strong innings of work, the veteran right-hander yielded just one earned run on two hits, one walk, and one hit batsman to go along with seven strikeouts on the night.

While Eovaldi was rolling early on, the Red Sox lineup backed him up in their half of the second inning.

There, with one out and the bases empty, Duran stepped up to the plate for the very first time in his big-league career with Yankees ace Gerrit Cole on the mound waiting for him.

On the very first pitch he saw from Cole, a 95 mph fastball on the lower half of the plate, Duran ripped a line-drive single to center field for his first career hit.

The speedy outfield prospect would not be on first base for long though, as he advanced to second on a groundout before coming in to score on an RBI single off the bat of Christian Arroyo that gave the Red Sox their first lead of the night at 1-0.

From there, Eovaldi continued to sit down Yankees hitters left and right — and even took a no-hitter into the fifth inning before yielding a two-out double to Greg Allen to break up the no-hit bid.

Allen, known for his speed, was driven in on a game-tying RBI base knock from D.J. LeMahieu moments later, which resulted in Eovaldi’s outing coming to a close as soon as he recorded the final out of the fifth.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 94 (66 strikes), the 31-year-old hurler did not factor into Saturday’s decision, though he did lower his ERA on the season down to 3.57. His next start should come against this same Yankees team back at Fenway Park next Friday.

Venable, Plawecki ejected for arguing strikes

In the top half of the sixth, the Red Sox failed to score off Cole, though they certainly had a golden opportunity to do so.

A two-out walk drawn by Rafael Devers followed by a Hunter Renfroe single and Duran free pass filled the bases for Christian Vazquez, who fell behind in the count at 0-2 before offering a half-hearted swing on a slider that was well outside.

While the argument can be made that Vazquez did not break the plane in his swing attempt, the veteran backstop was called out on strikes anyway, prompting a bit of an eruption from the Red Sox dugout in protest of the call.

Because of said reaction, bench coach Will Venable and backup catcher Kevin Plawecki were ejected from the contest, which — in theory — left the Red Sox with only one catcher.

Chaos in the bottom of the sixth

As Hirokazu Sawamura prepared to take over Eovaldi out of the Red Sox bullpen, rain continued to pour in the Bronx-area.

Before a pitch could even be thrown in the sixth inning, pandemonium ensued when a Yankees fan in the left field bleachers threw a baseball at Alex Verdugo that struck the outfielder on the back.

That sequence, which came as a result of Verdugo attempting to throw the ball he was playing catch with to a Red Sox fan in the stands, led Verdugo to become visibly upset, as he began to charge towards the left field wall in search of the fan who hit him.

Duran and some Red Sox coaches were able to hold Verdugo back, but manager Alex Cora opted to pull his team off the field until things cooled down a bit.

By the time Boston had retaken the field and Sawamura was ready to go, Gary Sanchez greeted the right-handed reliever by crushing a solo home run that just snuck over the right field fence to give New York a 2-1 edge.

Gleyber Torres followed suit by clubbing another solo shot to right field, and the Yankees went up 3-1 over the Red Sox because of it.

Left-hander Josh Taylor was deployed after Sawamura gave up his second homer of the night, and he was able to escape the sixth without giving anything else up.

At that point, though, the volume at which the rain was falling from the sky truly began to pick up, and that led to the tarp coming on the field and another rain delay.

Approximately 52 minutes into said rain delay, the game was called, resulting in a 3-1 win for the Yankees in six innings.

With the loss, the Red Sox drop to 56-37 on the season, though they remain 1 1/2 games up on the Rays for first place in the American League East.

Duran’s debut

In his major-league debut, Duran — starting in center field and batting out of the six-hole — went 1-for-2 with a single, a walk, a strikeout, and one run scored.

Next up: Perez vs. Taillon

The Red Sox will go for the series win over the Yankees in the rubber match of this three-game set on Sunday night.

Left-hander Martin Perez will get the ball for Boston in the finale, while right-hander Jameson Taillon will do the same for New York.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 7:08 p.m. eastern time on ESPN.

(Picture of Alex Verdugo: Adam Hunger/Getty Images)

Friday’s Red Sox-Yankees game is on; Thursday’s postponed contest to be made up as part of split doubleheader on August 17

After Thursday’s game was postponed due to multiple COVID-19 tests, the Red Sox will be playing the Yankees as scheduled at Yankee Stadium on Friday night.

Thursday’s contest was postponed approximately 2 1/2 hours before first pitch on account of the fact that the Yankees had at least three players — pitchers Jonathan Loaisiga, Nestor Cortes, and Wandy Peralta — test positive for COVID-19, while three additional players (Aaron Judge, Gio Urshela, and Kyle Higashioka) were going through COVID protocols.

While additional testing and contact tracing had to be conducted following Thursday’s postponement, it now appears that both clubs have been given the go-ahead to continue their series from Major League Baseball.

As for when Thursday’s game will be made up, that will happen in the form of a split doubleheader between the Sox and Yankees in the Bronx on August 17.

The two teams were originally slated to play a two-game series against one another at Yankee Stadium from August 17-18, but that has now essentially turned into a three-game set.

“After conducting testing and contact tracing involving members of the New York Yankees’ organization, the Club’s home game vs. the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium will proceed as scheduled,” MLB announced in a statement Friday afternoon. “The postponement of Thursday’s game will be made up as part of a split doubleheader at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday, August 17. The first game will be played at 1:05 p.m. (ET), followed by the previously scheduled 7:05 p.m. (ET) game.

According to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, weekend weather played a factor in the decision to not make up Thursday’s game right away, as the National Weather Service forecasts that there is a 60% chance of precipitation in the Bronx-area on Saturday and a 70% chance of precipitation on Sunday.

With Friday’s series-opening contest scheduled to begin at 7:05 p.m. eastern time, left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez will be making his 18th start of the season for the Red Sox.

The Yankees, meanwhile, will turn to fellow southpaw Jordan Montgomery to do start things off for them.

Friday’s game will be broadcast on both NESN and MLB Network for those watching out of market. First pitch, again, is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. eastern time.

(Picture of Yankee Stadium: Adam Hunger/Getty Images)

Thursday’s Red Sox-Yankees game postponed because New York has multiple positive COVID-19 tests

Thursday night’s game between the Red Sox and Yankees at Yankee Stadium has been postponed, Major League Baseball announced earlier Thursday evening.

Per an official statement from the league, the reasoning behind the postponement has to do with positive COVID-19 tests from within the Yankees organization. By postponing Thursday’s game, MLB can now conduct further testing as well as contract tracing to ensure the situation does not worsen.

According to MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch, the Yankees cancelled their pre-game batting practice session shortly after 4 p.m. eastern time “out of an abundance of caution as they advance through COVID-19 protocols.”

The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported that Thursday’s contest between Boston and New York would be postponed at approximately 4:32 p.m., and the announcement from MLB was released shortly thereafter.

The Red Sox (55-36) and Yankees (46-43) were slated to open up a four-game weekend series in the Bronx on Thursday night, but those plans have since been halted.

As stated by MLB, a makeup date for Thursday’s postponed game has yet to be announced and scheduling updates will be provided as available. Friday’s game is, at the moment, still on schedule for a 7:05 p.m. first pitch time.

On that note, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told reporters (including Hoch) that the decision to postpone Thursday’s game came from the Commissioner’s Office and that “it is too soon to know what this means for the rest of the weekend.”

Cashman also said that Jonathan Loaisiga, Nestor Cortes, and Wandy Peralta are three of the confirmed COVID-19 cases within the Yankees’ ranks, while there are three more who have “pending cases,” according to The Athletic’s Lindsey Adler.

(Picture of Yankee Stadium: Al Bello/Getty Images)

Red Sox lineup: Kiké Hernández dropped down to seventh for Game 2 against Yankees, J.D. Martinez scratched due to sore left wrist

For the first time this season, Kiké Hernández will not be batting leadoff for the Red Sox while still being in the starting lineup.

Hernández has been dropped down to the seven-hole and will start in center field for Saturday night’s game against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. The switch-hitting Danny Santana will start at designated hitter and bat leadoff in Hernández’s place.

“Danny’s swinging the bat well, though he’s not getting on base,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of his lineup decision. “He hit a ball hard in Houston. He hit a ball hard yesterday. He brings speed to the equation. Just felt like today, with this matchup, it was good to put Danny there. Hopefully we can exploit a few things from their starter and be more aggressive on the base paths.”

J.D. Martinez was originally going to DH and bat third, but has since been scratched from the lineup due to a sore left wrist that he jammed on a slide into second base on Friday night. The slugger will be available to pinch hit later in the game if needed, per Cora.

Coming into play Saturday, Hernández is carrying with him a .228/.284/.383 slash line to go along with eight doubles, one triple, five home runs, 12 RBI, 26 runs scored, one stolen base, 11 walks, and 38 strikeouts through his first 43 games of the season. This includes four pinch-hit appearances in which he replaced the No. 2, No. 8, and No. 9 hitters.

After missing nearly two weeks with a right hamstring strain and being activated from the injured list on May 17, the 29-year-old initially got off to a hot start with hits in four of his first six games back in action.

Since the Red Sox left Philadelphia, though, Hernández has cooled off significantly as he is currently in the midst of a 1-for-25 (.040) skid over his last seven games played dating back to May 25. He did not play in Thursday’s game against the Astros or Friday’s game against the Yankees.

What is surprising about the right-handed hitter’s recent struggles is that he has still proven to be effective when leading off a game (.289/.308/.395 in 39 plate appearances) or an inning (.275/.315/.522 in 73 plate appearances).

Still, the rather low on-base percentage Hernández has put up to this point without a doubt sticks out here.

Among 27 big-league leadoff hitters who have accrued at least 100 plate appearances thus far, Hernández ranks 20th in walk percentage (6.5%), ninth in strikeout percentage (20.8%), 25th in on-base percentage (.298), 21st in OPS (.700), 23rd in weighted on-base average (.305), and 23rd in wRC+ (91), per FanGraphs.

Prior to joining the Red Sox on a two-year, $14 million deal over the winter, the native of Puerto Rico batted out of the seven-hole in a grand total of 126 games between the Astros, Marlins, and Dodgers from 2014-2020.

In those 126 games, Hernández hit .200/.287/.335 with 16 homers and 48 RBI over 443 total plate appearances.

“Sometimes you got to breath,” Cora said of dropping Hernández down in the lineup. “Hitting him seventh, he’ll probably see the pitcher for one inning where he can see it from a different perspective and get feedback from the other hitters, and he can get going.”

Saturday’s contest in the Bronx will mark just Hernández’s third career game at Yankee Stadium, and his first since September 2016 when he was with the Dodgers.

Santana, meanwhile, will be batting leadoff for the third game in a row and the fourth time this season overall. The versatile 30-year-old is slashing .125/.222/.375 with two home runs and three RBI over his first 11 games as a member of the Red Sox.

What is Cora looking for out of the leadoff spot moving forward?

“We want somebody that can get on base,” he said. “Or somebody that can drive the ball. We want to set the tempo, and right now — we had that through stretches — but we haven’t been consistent.”

Here is how the rest of the Red Sox will be lining up alongside Santana, Hernández, and left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez, who will be looking to bounce back from a rough month of May in his first start of June.

Right-hander Jameson Taillon will be getting the start for the Yankees. A handful of Red Sox hitters have faced him before, including Santana and Hunter Renfroe.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. eastern time on FOX.

(Picture of Kiké Hernández: Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

New Podding the Red Sox episode: The Providence Jorunal’s Bill Koch joins the show

On this week’s installment of Podding the Red Sox: A BloggingtheRedSox.com Podcast, I am joined by Bill Koch, who covers the Red Sox for The Providence Journal.

Among the topics Bill and I discussed were how his New England roots shaped his interest in sports journalism, what led him to covering the Red Sox for The Providence Journal, how he goes about writing and tweeting about the Red Sox, his thoughts on Boston’s season thus far, what Alex Cora will have to deal with in the Bronx this weekend, his prediction for what Chaim Bloom will do before next month’s trade deadline, when Jarren Duran could be making his major-league debut, and much more!

The episode is available to listen to on iTunes and Spotify, among other platforms.

Thank you to Bill for taking some time out of his busy in-season schedule to have a conversation with me.

You can follow Bill on Twitter (@BillKoch25) by clicking here. You can check out his work for the Providence Journal by clicking here.

Thank you for listening and we will see you next time! Please make sure to subscribe and leave a five-star review if you can!

(Picture of Fenway Park: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox Serve up Four Home Runs in Yet Another Defeat To Yankees To Extend Losing Streak To Eight Consecutive Games

In their final game at Yankee Stadium in 2020, the Red Sox fell to the first-place Yankees by a final score of 6-3 on Monday, which extended their losing streak to a season-worst eight consecutive games.

Martin Perez made his fifth start of the season for Boston in this one, and he came into the week having made just one career start in the Bronx prior to Monday.

Only able to work the first three innings due to a 1 hour and 22 minute rain delay, the left-hander yielded three runs, all of which were earned, on two hits, three walks, and one hit batsman to go along with one lone strikeout on the night.

All three of those New York tallies came in the bottom half of the second, when after plunking Tyler Wade, the Yanks’ No. 9 hitter, with two outs, Perez served up an RBI double to Aaron Hicks and followed that by serving up a 428-foot two-run to Luke Voit on a 2-2, 83 mph changeup right down the chute moments later.

Those three consecutive mistakes put Perez’s side in an early three-run hole, and his evening would unknowingly come to a close after a scoreless third inning due to that aforementioned inclement weather.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 58 (30 strikes), the 29-year-old hurler turned to his cutter and changeup a combined 58% of the time he was on the mound Monday, inducing three swings-and-misses with the combination of pitches while also topping out at 93 mph with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 10 times.

Hit with his third losing decision of the year while also raising his ERA to 4.07, Perez will look to rebound in his next time out, which should come against the Orioles in Baltimore on Saturday.

In relief of Perez, left-hander Josh Osich got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen following that 83-minute rain delay, and he surrendered a pair of leadoff homers to Thairo Estrada and Voit in the bottom halves of the fourth and fifth innings.

From there, fellow southpaw Josh Taylor made his 2020 debut after getting activated from the injured list and needed just nine pitches to toss a scoreless bottom of the sixth, while Austin Brice gave up another solo shot to Aaron Hicks in the seventh and Heath Hembree fanned a pair in a perfect eighth inning.

Hembree’s impressive work kept Boston’s deficit at three runs, but it would prove to not be enough in the end.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a fairly familiar foe in Yankees left-hander Jordan Montgomery, whose 2020 debut came against Boston back on July 31.

The 27-year-old had a no-hitter going through his first 3 2/3 innings on Monday, but a string of three straight two-out hits in the fourth from J.D. Martinez, Xander Bogaerts, and Christian Vazquez broke that up, with Vazquez plating Martinez on an RBI single that was just out of the reach of Gleyber Torres.

As it would almost immediately turn out, Vazquez’s 12th RBI of the season came at just the right time as the Yankees ground crew began to roll the tarp onto the field almost as soon as Vazquez had reached first base safely.

The Red Sox headed into a lengthy weather delay with two outs and runners on the corners in the fourth, but they could not do anything with that opportunity once the rain lifted.

That being the case because after Michael Chavis drew a five-pitch walk to load the bases, Alex Verdugo was the victim of a swinging strikeout at the hands of Luis Avilan to extinguish the threat and end the inning.

Verdugo did redeem himself in the top of the sixth, though, when with two outs and Vazquez at second, the outfielder drove the catcher in on a run-scoring double off reliever Michael King. 5-2 New York.

Fast forward all the way to the ninth, with the Yankees up 6-2, vaunted fireballer Aroldis Chapman made his first appearance of the season out of the New York bullpen. Perhaps taking advantage of some of Chapman’s expected rustiness, the Sox made somewhat of a comeback attempt with Jose Peraza ripping a one-out triple and Jonathan Arauz scoring him on an RBI double down the left field line.

That pushed the Red Sox’ deficit to three runs at 6-3, but alas, that would go on to be Monday’s final score after Kevin Pillar and Rafael Devers struck out back-to-back to end the game.

Some notes and observations from this loss:

The Red Sox have lost their last 11 games at Yankee Stadium.

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

From The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham:

From MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo:

Next up for the Red Sox, they will return to Fenway Park and open up a two-game interleague series against the Phillies beginning on Monday night.

Right-hander Zack Godley will get the start for Boston, while fellow righty Zach Eflin will do the same for Philadelphia.

In four career appearances (two starts) against the Phillies, the 30-year-old Godley owns a lifetime 1.53 ERA and .528 OPS against over 17 2/3 total innings pitched.

Eflin, meanwhile, will be making his first career start against the Red Sox and his first career start at Fenway Park.

First pitch Monday is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox looking to finally to put an end to this dreadful skid, maybe?

Red Sox Lineup: Martín Pérez Looks To Be Stopper for Boston in Series Finale Against Yankees

After being held to just two runs on five hits in yet another loss to the Yankees in the Bronx on Sunday, the Red Sox will finally look to put a halt to this seven-game losing streak in their final contest of the year at Yankee Stadium on Monday night.

Left-hander Martin Perez will be making his fifth start of the season for Boston in this one, and he’ll be opposed by fellow southpaw Jordan Montgomery, who will be making his fourth start of the season for New York.

Coming into the week with a 2.20 ERA and .583 OPS against over his last three outings and 16 1/3 innings pitched, Perez has only made one prior start at Yankee Stadium in which he surrendered seven runs on 11 hits in five innings of work back on August 12, 2018 when he was with the Rangers.

Montgomery, meanwhile, yielded just one run on five hits and one walk over 5 2/3 innings pitched against the Red Sox in his 2020 debut back on July 31. As you may have already guessed, the Yankees won that game.

Here’s how the Red Sox will be lining up behind Perez and against Montgomery to begin things on Monday:

Not too much to talk about here except the fact that Jose Peraza is starting in left field for the second time this season, Kevin Pillar is once again leading off and starting in center, and Alex Verdugo is in right field while J.D. Martinez slides back into the DH role.

Also worth noting here, Christian Vazquez is back behind the plate and Michael Chavis is starting at first base with the left-hander on the mound for New York.

Among these nine hitters, Vazquez and Rafael Devers have both taken Montgomery deep before, while Vazquez and Xander Bogaerts are the only ones with two or more hits off him.

First pitch Monday is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN-plus, MLB Network, and WEEI. Red Sox going for their first win in over a week.

Red Sox’ Alex Verdugo Picks up Team-Leading Fourth Outfield Assist in Sunday’s Loss To Yankees

The 2020 Major League Baseball season may just be 22 games young, but Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo has already made quite the first impression with his new club.

After coming over in that blockbuster trade with the Dodgers in February, the 24-year-old is slashing .286/.342/.529 with seven extra-base hits, five of which being home runs, and eight RBI through his first 20 games with Boston.

More importantly, for this piece anyway, Verdugo leads the Red Sox in outfield assists and is actually in a three-way tie with the Rays’ Kevin Kiermaier and the Pirates’ Bryan Reynolds for the most outfield assists in baseball with four on the year thus far.

That fourth assist for Verdugo came in Sunday night’s loss to the Yankees, when after fielding a softly-hit fly ball off the end of Mike Tauchman’s bat in the third inning while on the run, the left fielder worked against his momentum, spun 180 degrees, cocked back, and threw an absolute dart to Jonathan Arauz to get Tauchman at second base.

Per Statcast, Verdugo’s throw to second came out of his left hand at a whopping 81 mph and got back to the infield in just over two seconds.

The play, as fantastic as it was, may not have made too much of a difference by the end of Sunday’s contest, but it just goes to show how impressive Verdugo’s arm strength truly is, which makes sense when you consider the fact that he was a legitimate pitching prospect coming out of high school.

According to FanGraphs, Verdugo has been one of the better defensive outfielders in the American League so far this season, as the Arizona native ranks 11th among qualified AL outfielders in Defensive Runs Saved (6) and 14th in UZR/150 (4.7).

When asked about this highlight play during his postgame media availability Sunday night, Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke said Verdugo’s throw was “outstanding.” Indeed it was.

Red Sox Held Team Meeting Prior to Sunday’s Loss to Yankees

The Red Sox dropped their seventh consecutive game in a 4-2 loss to the Yankees on Sunday night, but before the game even started, a team meeting was held earlier this weekend.

In the meeting, which was called for by Red Sox leadership and held at an outdoor area at the team hotel, Kevin Pillar said the goal was to try to come together as one cohesive unit in the midst of a disastrous 6-16 start to the 2020 season.

“We got together. We talked about some things,” Pillar said during his postgame media availability via Zoom Sunday night. “We’ve got to to stop feeling sorry for ourselves. We’ve got good leadership on this team. They called for [a meeting]. This season is going to happen whether we want it to happen or not. We’ve got 30-some-odd games. A lot can change.”

One of the struggles in organizing this meeting was finding the right venue to have it in. With proper social distancing protocols needing to be followed while the United States is dealing with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, that was not the simplest thing to do. And that lack of intimacy has also had an effect on players’ abilities to jell so far this year.

“Especially for us, with the configurations we have at Fenway — not having the locker room dynamic — it’s been extremely difficult to get on the same page with a lot of people,” Pillar added. “We’ve got to find ways to stay together and find ways to make this fun.”

Currently on pace to win fewer than 17 games by the end of the season, the Red Sox certainly do not look like a team that has had a ton of fun on the field to this point. The procedures in place because of the aforementioned pandemic likely do not help that cause, which is kind of what Pillar alluded to on Sunday.

“Baseball is so difficult to begin with,” said the veteran outfielder. “When you have any sort of external or outside factor that takes away from the task at hand it makes it even more difficult.”

Pillar is a veteran of eight major-league seasons. From Toronto, to San Francisco, and now Boston, the 31-year-old has presumably been part of many team or player-only meetings in his day.

In this particular meeting held by Boston at the Lotte New York Palace in Manhattan, though, Pillar said “quite a few players talk” and the team “just wanted to open the floor up to everyone.”

What was specifically said in the Sox’ team meeting will probably never be fully disclosed to the general public, but Pillar’s closing statement to reporters on Sunday was quite intuitive.

“We’re our best teachers,” he said. “When things go wrong we lean on each other.”

 

Red Sox Manage to Hold Yankees to Just Four Runs but Can’t Get Offense Going in Seventh Consecutive Loss

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.