NEW YORK — The Red Sox were swept Sunday evening after Matt Barnes unraveled in the bottom of the eighth inning, leading to a 9-7 loss to the Yankees.
The Sox dropped to 3-7 on the season as they face another tough matchup on the road against the Tampa Bay Rays starting Tuesday.
The Red Sox hitters did everything they could. Since the start of this Yankees series, sure, the pitching was an issue, but the Sox had their chances, too.
Rafael Devers hit his first homer of the season Sunday, a solo shot to right field, to put the Sox ahead 7-6 in the seventh inning. At that point, the Red Sox had everything set up perfectly. Marcus Walden pitched a perfect bottom of the seventh, but in the eighth Barnes imploded.
With two outs in the inning and nobody on, Barnes walked Mike Tauchman, the No. 9 hitter who had entered the game as a defensive replacement. Tauchman stole second and D.J. LeMahieu singled up the middle to bring in Tauchman. Barnes then left a hanging curveball over the heart of the plate to Aaron Judge, who hammered his second home run of the game, a tiebreaking two-run shot.
“You can’t walk the nine-hole hitter to get to the top of their order,” Barnes said after the game.
Barnes retired the two previous hitters rather handily. Gary Sanchez flied out to center and Gio Urshela struck out. But Barnes fell behind Tauchman quickly, walking him on a 3-1 count.
Now, consider the scenario: Tauchman can run a little and Barnes is slow to the plate. Kevin Plawecki — not Christian Vazquez, who was in at the designated hitter’s spot so he could get a breather — was behind the plate. This made it the ideal time for the Yankees to try to swipe a bag, yes, even with two outs. Worst-case scenario, you go into the bottom of the ninth inning with the top of your order, facing a shaky Brandon Workman. Best-case scenario, you move into scoring position with one of your best run producers in LeMahieu up at-bat. In short, the best-case scenario happened. LeMahieu kept the line moving.
“When they steal second there off Barnes, LeMahieu, he can get base hits,” manager Ron Roenicke said.
As for Judge, he’s been hot. That was his second homer of the day, and his sixth homer in five days.
“He killed us the entire series,” Bogaerts said.
Barnes fell behind Judge 2-0. He wanted to get a curveball down and away. Judge is hammering anything in the zone. But Barnes’ curve caught too much of the plate and Judge took advantage of it, hammering the pitch 468 feet.
“You can’t do that to a guy that, one, is locked in, two, that’s got the power that he’s got. It just was a poor sequence of events there.”
The upcoming Rays series won’t be any easier for the Sox but they hope to get on a roll soon.
“Anytime you lose a game like this, it’s tough,” Roenicke said. “It’s tough when you know you have it set up how you want. It didn’t work out.”
▪ The Sox used Austin Brice as their opener. With a runner on first in the first, Brice issued back-to-back walks to Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Hicks. Brice wiggled out of it, but when Sox lefthander Matt Hall came in for the next inning, the outcome wasn’t as forgiving. Urshela reached base on a single and with one out in the frame Hall walked LeMahieu. That brought up Judge, who took advantage of Hall’s fastball middle-in for his first homer of the evening.
The Sox middle relievers held it together, though. Heath Hembree pitched two innings and allowed just a run after Hall had allowed five in his two innings. And Walden worked two innings of scoreless baseball.
Nevertheless, the amount of times the Sox had control indicates this one, again, falls on the pitching.
At different points in the game the Red Sox were ahead 2-0, 5-3, 6-5 and 7-6. Each time the pitching spiraled. Much of this pitching staff is patched together by committee, in large part because of injuries. The bullpen, at all times, has to be ready
“It is what it is right now,” Barnes said. “The front office and organization has a plan on what they’re doing and that’s what it is. We’re down there ready to go when our name is called.”
▪ Bogaerts had his hands in this game. He finished 4 for 4 with two homers, a double, and three RBIs.
The Red Sox entered this contest having been behind after three innings in eight of the nine games they had played this season. But Bogaerts, who said before the game that trying to navigate this season while stuck in a pandemic has been hard, surely made the baseball part look easy.
In the top of the first, Bogaerts gave the Sox a quick 2-0 lead with his two-run homer off starter James Paxton. Judge hit a three-run homer for the Yankees in the bottom of the second. The Sox then tied it up in the third on a Devers single up the middle, and Bogaerts followed with a single to left field that Miguel Andujar booted, allowing another run to score with Bogaerts ending up at third.
By the fifth, Bogaerts had already ripped his second homer of the evening, this one a 437-foot no-doubter to left-center off Yankees reliever Michael King.
“I was feeling like I was stuck at the plate,” Bogaerts said on his early struggles. “J.D. [Martinez] talked to me about getting some type of movement going. Some type of rhythm going. I did it yesterday. I did it today and it paid off.”