Craig Kimbrel Can’t Come Through in Eighth Inning as Red Sox Fall to Yankees Again.
Picture Credit: Adam Hunger / USA TODAY Sports
A day after a disappointing loss to the Yankees in the opening game of this series, the Red Sox found themselves in a similar position last night. With the game going in their favor up until the bottom of the eighth, it’s almost inexcusable that they could not come away with the win to even things up at one game at piece. Instead, they’ll look to salvage something from this three-game set later tonight.
Since the news broke that David Price would not be able to make his scheduled start on Wednesday, everyone in the Red Sox rotation moved up a spot. Meaning it would be Rick Porcello on the mound against Masahiro Tanaka. In what was his worst start of the season up to this point, I thought that Porcello was still somewhat effective, as he prevented the Yankees from running away with this one.
The righty out of New Jersey tossed 5.1 innings, surrendered five earned runs on eight hits, three walks, and a HBP, all while fanning just three Yankees. Surprisingly, no one in that menacing lineup managed to go deep off of Porcello. That may not have been the most surprising part of the 2016 Cy Young Award winner’s night though. Nope, that would have to be the three free passes he gave up. In his seven starts prior to this one, Porcello has only walked more than two batters once, and that was back on April 24th in Toronto. In my opinion, those three walks last night were indicative of the fact that Porcello may not have had his best stuff going. After recording the first out of the sixth and giving up a single to Gleyber Torres, the 29-year-old’s night would come to an end with a pitch count of 91, 51 of which went for strikes.
With the Red Sox trailing by one at the time of Porcello’s departure in the sixth, lefty Brian Johnson would be first out of the bullpen. The former Florida Gator came through with two big outs to retire the side, then recorded the first out of the seventh inning as well. Considering this was his first time in a game since the first of May, it was reassuring that Johnson did not show any signs of struggling last night. After getting a fresh lead in the top half of the inning and getting Didi Gregorius to line out to kick off the bottom half, Carson Smith would enter this one and be responsible for ending things in the seventh.
The Texas native needed three batters to record two outs, but no damage was done in the inning, as the Red Sox still had a one run lead to protect going into the bottom of the eighth. That is where things got a bit sticky though, with Matt Barnes on the mound. A leadoff double to Neil Walker certainly did not help, and that was followed by a five pitch walk to Gleyber Torres two batters later. With runners on first and third and just one out in the inning, it was all left up to Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel, who had never recorded a five out save in his entire career.
Well, that would not happen last night either, unfortunately. The flame throwing Kimbrel gave up a go-ahead triple to the very first batter he saw in Brett Gardner. That scored the runners from first and third and put the Red Sox down by a run. Even worse, the lead would increase for the Yankees four pitches into the next at bat, as Aaron Judge launched a 97 MPH fastball from Kimbrel into orbit, sending it 429 feet into the night sky.
Judge’s ninth long ball of the season put the Yankees up by three, and that’s all the run support Aroldis Chapman would need a half inning later.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup had a much easier time reaching base last night off of Masahiro Tanaka than they did Tuesday night against Luis Severino. Mitch Moreland got the scoring started in the top half of the second, as he put the Red Sox momentarily on top with his sixth home run of the season. A two-run blast that scored Xander Bogaerts from first as well.
Fast forward all the way to the fifth, Andrew Benintendi got in on the action with a home run of his own. This one a solo shot, mashed 391 feet into the right field bleachers of Yankee Stadium, his second of the season and his sixth career homer in the Bronx.
An inning later,trailing by two, and facing a new pitcher in Chad Green, Eduardo Nunez cut the Red Sox deficit in half with a sacrifice fly to center field. That scored Xander Bogaerts from third after he had ripped a double off of Tanaka to lead off the sixth.
Later in the seventh, still trailing by one, Hanley Ramirez left his mark on this game. It really did not make a difference by the end, but it was huge at the time. After Brock Holt and Mookie Betts both grounded out to start the inning, Andrew Benintendi drew a walk on six pitches. That set up a spot where Hanley Ramirez could go deep for the first time since April 14th and give his team the lead. Well, on the third pitch off his at bat, that’s exactly what Ramirez did.
That 431 foot shot to left put the Red Sox up by one in the seventh. Like I said, it seemed HUGE at the time it was hit, but that warm feeling did not last all that long.
Fast forward another inning, this time up by a run, and the Red Sox had a great chance to tack on some insurance runs. Mitch Moreland and Eduardo Nunez led the inning off against Yankees reliever Chasen Shreve with a walk and a double. That meant with no outs in the inning, the Red Sox had runners in scoring position. Ideal spot to be on, but the bottom half of the lineup could not capitalize on it. Even with two outs and the bases loaded for Andrew Benintendi after an intentional walk to Mookie Betts, nothing. Maybe getting more of a lead going into the ninth would have helped Craig Kimbrel out a little bit, I don’t know.
Anyway, that did not happen and the Red Sox lost their second game in a row to the hands of the Yankees. It stings, but they have the chance to even the season series up later tonight. At least JD Martinez extended his hitting streak to 10 games, that’s pretty cool. Oh yeah, Eduardo Rodriguez gets the start against veteran lefty CC Sabathia, with first pitch scheduled for 7:05 PM ET. Would be a real shame if someone like Eduardo Nunez laid down a bunt against ol’ CC, a real shame.