The Red Sox started this New York road trip 2-0, taking two straight from the Mets. Now, they are looking to avoid a Yankees sweep Sunday night in their final game of a three-game set.
The Sox lost Saturday night, 5-2, dropping a game that, once again, featured underwhelming starting pitching and a flat offense. Starter Zack Godley lasted just 3⅓ innings, allowing five runs and two homers. The Red Sox are now 3-6
Here are some observations from the game:
Godley knew it was gone the minute the ball connected with Aaron Judge’s bat — maybe even after it left his own hand. It came on a 2-2 pitch in the first inning. Godley tried to sneak in a knuckle-curve but Judge wasn’t fooled. Godley left it too up in the zone and too over the middle of the plate. It left Judge’s bat at 110.8 miles per hour, landing 455 feet into the Yankee bleachers of emptiness.
Godley just put his head down.
“These guys came into this game prepared to hit off-speed,” Godley said afterward. “And I didn’t make an adjustment early enough to go to the fastball. They took advantage.”
The homer was symbolic with what everyone knows is at the fulcrum of the Sox’ issues: starting pitching. The Judge homer was just a solo shot but it was a sample of what was to come for Godley and the Sox.
Much like Ryan Weber the night before, Godley doesn’t throw hard, so command is important. But even with that, the stuff has to play. And Godley’s didn’t Saturday. Even on good pitches by Godley, the Yankees still applied their offensive pressure.
Consider: in the second inning Luke Voit led off with a single to left on a changeup. The next batter was Mike Tauchman. Godley quickly worked the count to 0-2. He tossed in another changeup in the same spot (but away from Tauchman since he’s a lefty). Tauchman beat the shift and shot the ball passed Rafael Devers into left. Godley faced Gary Sanchez next and on a 1-1 pitch he went low and away on a knuckle-curve, but Sanchez slapped it the other way to right field for a single, beating the shifted Tzu-Wei Lin and loading the bases.
That set the table for Gio Urshela. With no outs in the inning, Urshela swung at the first pitch he saw, a changeup, belting a grand slam to center that put the Yankees up, 5-0.
“Urhshela, I mean that’s a changeup first pitch and he hits a grand slam to center,” said manager Ron Roenicke. “So, I don’t know sometimes you make decent pitches and the other guys do a great job of hitting.”
The pitches to Voit, Tauchman, and Sanchez were well-executed, too, but it was clear in this frame: no matter the execution sometimes talent wins out.
“Like I said, they were sitting soft, and [Tauchman] just took advantage of it,” Godley said. “The one to Gary I actually thought it was a good pitch when I threw it, but, I mean, obviously it wasn’t the right pitch because he got a hit on it.”
Playing from behind
The Sox went 4⅔ innings in the middle of the game without getting a hit. Devers finally broke the drought in the eighth with a one-out single to left. Offensively, this game mirrored Friday night’s contest. The Sox had just six hits Saturday, one extra-base hit, and struck out 12 times.
“I know we got down right away, 5-0, but our offense isn’t catching up,” Roenicke said. “With what I feel about our guys, we just need to get guys clicking right because I know they can hit.”
The Sox have been behind after three innings in eight of the nine games they’ve played this season. They have allowed an average of 2.8 runs a game in their first three innings, tied with the Royals for the most in baseball.
This could, perhaps, put pressure on the offense to produce, though Roenicke doesn’t quite see it that way.
“If it’s all the time, yes, that could put pressure on your offense, no question,” Roenicke explained. “Today was a little tougher but I think when you’re down three runs, I don’t think that’s a big deal with our offense. I think they should know we’re going to come back and score that many. But you want to get a lead. Certainly, when we go through a really good stretch it’s always because we’re the ones coming out in the first inning or two.”
Bogaerts hitting back
Despite the Sox’ woes, Xander Bogaerts is playing some really good baseball. In the last two games, he’s looked spry at shortstop and appears as if he’s moving quicker than last season. His bat is starting to heat up also. On Friday night, he had in two hits and worked a walk in his last at-bat against Jonathan Holder. Bogaerts continued that Saturday when he laced a double off the right-center field wall against Yankees righthander Masahiro Tanaka that resulted in the Sox’ only two runs of the game.
“He’s seeing the ball well,” Roenicke said. “He’s taking pitches that are close down. I know when guys struggle they start swinging and chasing those pitches. I like the way he’s looking at the baseball.”
Bogaerts, who’s naturally a pull hitter, had been going to the opposite field 45 percent of the time entering Saturday. For context, last season — a career year — he went the opposite way just 24.5 percent of the time.
“He’s hitting the ball the other way better,” Roenicke said. “We know he can really pull the ball well. The ball he hit off the right-centerfield wall, that was smoked. That was a good at-bat.”