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Ryan Weber, Red Sox can’t keep momentum, drop series opener to Yankees

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JULY 31:  Ryan Weber #65 of the Boston Red Sox pitches against the New York Yankees during their home opener at Yankee Stadium on July 31, 2020 in New York City.  The 2020 season had been postponed since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JULY 31: Ryan Weber #65 of the Boston Red Sox pitches against the New York Yankees during their home opener at Yankee Stadium on July 31, 2020 in New York City. The 2020 season had been postponed since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)Al Bello/Getty

NEW YORK — The Red Sox dropped to 3-5 after their 5-1 loss to the New York Yankees on Friday evening. Ryan Weber took the ball for the Sox, lasting just 3⅓ innings and surrendering three runs. The Sox didn’t provide much offense either. They managed just five hits and their only run was a Michael Chavis homer to left in the third inning.

Here’s are some observations from the game:

▪ Weber has a huge task to fill as the Red Sox’ No. 3 starter and perhaps unrealistic expectations. Weber had made just 12 starts for his career entering his start Friday against the Yankees. None had come against New York.

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In Weber’s first outing of the season against the Baltimore Orioles, he was smacked around for six earned runs, including two homers. He said his sinker wasn’t sinking, and zeroed in on the fact that he induced just two ground ball outs. He hoped a mechanical adjustment in his side session would fix it.

To begin Friday night, it appeared as if it worked. He registered three ground ball outs in the first inning against DJ LeMahieu, Aaron Judge, and Giancarlo Stanton. By the end of the third, he had six ground ball outs. Sure, it appeared Weber cracked the code.

But stuff ultimately wins out, as does command. Weber went heavy on his sinker and curveball. Unlike his last outing he didn’t leave many pitches over the heart of the plate, but at the same time, he didn’t command well, walking four batters in his 3⅓ innings. In his last outing, he pitched 3⅔ innings and issued three walks.

“It’s frustrating because throughout my entire career I’ve always thrown strikes, stayed ahead,” Weber said afterward. “I had four walks today. I never had four walks in my entire life. The home runs have been hurting me but it goes back to not attacking the strike zone.”

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Also like his last outing, Weber surrendered two homers: one to Judge (a two-run shot) in the third and another to Gio Urshela, a solo homer in the fourth.

Aaron Judge got the Yankees on the board in the third with his two-run homer off Ryan Weber.
Aaron Judge got the Yankees on the board in the third with his two-run homer off Ryan Weber. Seth Wenig/Associated Press

Weber admitted that he’s pressing on the mound.

“We saw that in the first spring training. We saw it again in the shorter one. Confidence, because he’s such a command guy, is going to be how he’s successful,” manager Ron Roenicke said. “A guy that throws 98, even if he doesn’t have confidence, his stuff can get him by. With Ryan, the stuff isn’t going to work unless he’s confident and knows he can throw it where he wants to.”

Weber didn’t register a strikeout in either of his two starts, becoming the first pitcher not to strike out a batter in back-to-back starts of three-plus innings since 2017 (Adam Wainwright), and the first Red Sox pitcher with back-to-back starts without a strikeout since 2012 (Aaron Cook).

▪ There’s a bad base running trend around this Red Sox team. After a pair of blunders Thursday against the Mets, it happened again in Friday’s game.

Veteran Kevin Pillar provided the first mistake. It was the top of the third inning. The Red Sox had just taken a 1-0 lead after Chavis’s solo shot to left off Yankees starter Jordan Montgomery. With one out in the inning, Jose Peraza singled, then Pillar added in a single of his own. The Sox had a chance to tack on more with J.D. Martinez at the plate. Martinez lined out softly to Judge in right field. The ball was right in front of Judge, but Pillar went too far off the bag and was thrown out at first to end the inning. In retrospect, it killed one of the Sox’ only opportunities of the game.

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Kevin Pillar gets doubled off first, failing to beat the throw from Aaron Judge to Luke Voit, ending a Sox rally in the third inning.
Kevin Pillar gets doubled off first, failing to beat the throw from Aaron Judge to Luke Voit, ending a Sox rally in the third inning. Al Bello/Getty

“Obviously, you can’t make mistakes too often on the bases and we have,” Roenicke said. “Pillar didn’t realize [Judge] was throwing behind him there, and you just have to be more aware. If we’re first and second with two outs, we’re certainly a lot better than being out of the inning. We need to do a better job of that.”

Alex Verdugo was gunned down by Mets catcher Wilson Ramos in the second inning of Thursday’s contest after he attempted to steal second. Verdugo read the ball in the dirt correctly but hesitated. Roenicke said he was OK with Verdugo taking a chance there, despite being thrown out. Fine, perhaps you can live with that one.

The following inning was another extreme, though. With two outs in the inning and Xander Bogaerts up at the plate, Peraza tried to steal third and, he, too, was thrown out by Ramos. A base runner should never make the third out at third base. Afterward, Roenicke was asked about it and he said he would have a conversation with Peraza, who is new to the team.

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“I’m OK with guys stealing, it’s just picking the right time to do it,” Roenicke said. “Two strikes. Two outs. Bogey is hitting. We just have to talk to the guys more on when they are going to take that chance and when they are going to go.”

▪ The Sox made a ton of quick outs, too. In five of the nine innings, they went down 1-2-3. Their only extra-base hit was Chavis’s homer.

“You’ve got to have a good game plan against good pitching,” Roenicke said. “You’ve got to stick with that plan. I thought some guys had some really good at-bats. As a whole, we’re not swinging the bat as good as I know we can. And we will. It’s just hopefully we click soon and we’ll start scoring a lot of runs.”

The middle of the order, in particular, is struggling, too. Martinez, Rafael Devers, and Bogaerts (though he had two hits) are hitting a combined .210 on the season.

Martinez is just 2 for his last 23.

“It’s been tough,” Martinez said. “We’ve all been grinding. Bogey looked better. He hit the ball hard. It would be nice for one of us to get going. It’s been a little tough stretch.”

Martinez is a huge video person. But due to the pandemic, he hasn’t had access to as much in-game video, which has been an adjustment.

“I’m still trying to figure that one out,” Martinez said. “It’s one of those things where if you do want to grind on something you can’t come in because you have a certain amount of time you can come in. It’s tough. It’s one of those seasons where you hope you have your swing right out of the shoot.”

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Julian McWilliams can be reached at julian.mcwilliams@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @byJulianMack