Red Sox manager John Farrell said it felt like Christmas morning around Fenway Park on Thursday. The Sox had played a crisp game to beat the rival Yankees the night before and now were getting energetic right fielder Shane Victorino off the disabled list.
Farrell talked optimistically before the game about his team finally gaining a measure of consistency. It all sounded plausible.
The holiday ended once the game started. In a performance that knocked some shine off those World Series rings, the Red Sox were embarrassed, 14-5, by the Yankees before a sellout crowd at Fenway Park.
“That’s a terrible game to be a part of. That’s not big league baseball,” catcher David Ross said.
Felix Doubront, ostensibly the No. 3 starter, couldn’t get through three innings, raising further doubts about his viability. The Sox were held to four hits, committed five errors, and used outfielder Mike Carp as a pitcher in the ninth inning.
“The sooner we move past this one the better,” Farrell said. “We need to execute at a higher level, without question. Defensively sloppy night.”
At 10-13, the Red Sox are only 3½ games behind the first-place Yankees. But of far greater concern than the standings is the low level of play the Sox have demonstrated.
The Sox were unerringly efficient and focused last season, straight through to the postseason. But their concentration has varied this season for reasons beyond changes in personnel.
There were three wild pitches Thursday, two double plays that weren’t turned, and a passed ball. Doubront showed what amounted to disinterest when it came to holding runners and fielding his position.
The Red Sox have allowed 17 unearned runs over 23 games. They had 43 unearned runs all of last season. There were 10 in the three-game series against the Yankees.
The five errors on Thursday were their most since a five-error game against the Royals on April 28, 2001.
The last time the Sox committed as many errors against the Yankees, it was the seven-error game on Sept. 8, 1978, part of the infamous Boston Massacre series.
“Defensive errors, they’re going to happen. They’re more physical in nature than mental,” Farrell said. “While we’ve had some mental errors, I wouldn’t say that the shortcomings that we’ve shown are effort-related.”
The team left for Toronto after the game. Farrell suggested he would address the team before Friday’s game.
The Red Sox were noncompetitive in the early innings.
New York’s third batter, Carlos Beltran, reached on an error by shortstop Xander Bogaerts. The ball was right at the rookie but it was hit sharply and deflected off his right hand.
Doubront left a fastball over the plate that Alfonso Soriano pounded to the gap in right field for an RBI double.
The second inning brought an even lower level of play.
Doubront walked Brett Gardner. When Brian Roberts grounded to third base, the Red Sox could not turn a double play when Dustin Pedroia dropped the ball on the turn. With umpires now strictly enforcing the transfer rule, both runners were safe.
After a wild pitch, rookie Yangervis Solarte (2 for 5, four RBIs) doubled to left and two runs scored. With one out, Doubront threw another wild pitch and Solarte scored.
Mark Teixeira led off the third with a homer to left field. Gardner then reached on an error by Doubront as the pitcher put little effort into fielding a slowly hit ground ball.
Gardner stole second and third as Doubront made no attempt at holding him. A single by Roberts scored Gardner.
Roberts stole second base before Doubront was into his delivery. As a lefthander, Doubront has an advantage in keeping a runner close but he ignored Roberts.
“To me, that kind of shows maybe the game sped up on him a little bit in that situation,” Farrell said.
Jacoby Ellsbury (3 for 6 Thursday and 10 for 29 against his former team this season) singled to score Roberts and Farrell finally came out of the dugout to get Doubront, who was booed by the crowd.
Doubront allowed seven runs on six hits, two walks, and two wild pitches. Only three of the runs were earned. It was the second time in five starts that Doubront (1-3) failed to finish three innings.
“It was a bad night. I couldn’t get my job done, early loss of concentration. It was terrible,” Doubront said.
Doubront was 22-16 with a 4.59 ERA over the previous two seasons, leading the Sox to believe the 26-year-old was on the verge of fulfilling what has long been considered significant potential. But this season so far has represented a setback.
Burke Badenhop pitched 2⅔ scoreless innings. But lefthander Craig Breslow and poor defense added to the debacle in the seventh inning as the Yankees sent 11 batters to the plate and scored five runs.
Carp was the first position player to pitch for the Red Sox since Darnell McDonald in the woeful 2012 season. The righthander, pitching for the first time since high school, featured a knuckleball. He walked five but allowed only one run.
Yankees starter CC Sabathia (3-2) went an easy six innings for the win. He allowed two runs on three hits and struck out eight.
David Ortiz had a sacrifice fly and Jonny Gomes an RBI double in the third. The Red Sox scored three runs in the seventh off Yankees rookie Shane Greene. Bogaerts had an RBI double.
“We’re going to get better,” Bogaerts said. “Teams go through slumps, it’s part of the game. We’re definitely going to get better. That’s not the kind of team that we are.”