The Sox weren’t simply getting no-hit by Yankees righthander Domingo Germán on Sunday, they were getting thoroughly embarrassed.
Germán even struck out four batters in the seventh inning, punching out Rafael Devers and J.D. Martinez on seven pitches after Xander Bogaerts whiffed for what should have been the second out but reached on a passed ball.
“We were very undisciplined. We were swinging at bad pitches,” said Sox manager Alex Cora.
The Sox hadn’t been no-hit at Fenway Park since 1958 by Detroit’s Jim Bunning. The only Yankee with a no-hitter at Fenway was George Mogridge way back in 1917.
Now they were six outs away from ignominy.
“Things weren’t looking great,” Kiké Hernández said.
Cora had a more present-day concern. The team had its annual Family Day planned for after the game with activities on the field for the players’ kids.
“It was going to suck, to be honest with you, if we get shut out and they throw a no-hitter,” Cora said. “That’s what I was thinking of.”
But Family Day was saved and then some. Alex Verdugo led off the eighth inning with a double off Germán. Then came four hits in a row off Jonathan Loáisiga that turned a 4-0 deficit into an out-of-nowhere 5-4 victory.
With the Rays losing, the Sox moved back into first place alone. In a season that has now included 32 come-from-behind victories, was this the best of the bunch?
“It was pretty good. A pretty special comeback,” said Hernández, whose double drove in the third run.
If you don’t believe in this team yet, it’s time to give in. It felt like a switch flipped at Fenway when Verdugo doubled over the head of right fielder Greg Allen to break up the no-hitter.
“Getting that hit out of the way just had everybody take that big deep breath,” Verdugo said.
The crowd, quiet and anxious all day, came to life. Then Hunter Renfroe doubled off Loaisiga to drive in a run before Christian Vázquez singled to right and Renfroe scored.
Five pitches and suddenly it was 4-2. Then forgotten Franchy Cordero singled up the middle to bring Hernández up.
That’s when managing came into play.
Loáisiga had faced three batters and given up three consecutive hits, but Yankees manager Aaron Boone stayed with him for Hernández.
In the other dugout, Cora told Hernández to take a shot at bunting for a single. Hernández questioned the idea because Loáisiga throws a heavy sinker but agreed to give it a shot.
Hernández has one bunt single in his career, in 2018. The next one will have to wait. Cora saw the Yankees had their corner infielders playing in a few steps and waved the bunt off.
Loáisiga hung a fastball and Hernández lined a double down the third-base line that scored Vazquez and moved Cordero to third.
When Boone finally called in lefthander Zack Britton to face Jarren Duran, Cora countered with righthanded hitter Kevin Plawecki.
With the shortstop and second baseman back, Plawecki tapped a grounder to shortstop that scored Cordero and moved Hernández to third.
“In hindsight that’s the one that you kind of question,” Boone said. “Should we have just sold out with no outs there? That’s certainly debatable.”
Plawecki has been a minor character for much of the season. That has changed in recent days. He pinch-hit in a big spot and lined out on Thursday, went 2 for 4 with an RBI on Saturday and had the big RBI Sunday.
Cora likes his short, direct swing and ability to put the ball in play.
“There’s certain situations where we will use him regardless if he’s the second catcher,” the manager said.
Bogaerts, who always seems to have the right approach at the plate in a big spot, sent a fly ball to right field that was deep enough to score Hernández.
After seven fruitless innings, seven hitters in a row had productive at-bats.
“It happened quick,” Cora said. “Everybody contributed.”
After losing three of four the Yankees are nine games out of first with three games at Tampa Bay starting Tuesday. The Red Sox move on knowing that even a seemingly hopeless situation can be overcome.
They proved it Sunday.
“We’re not going to quit, we’re not going to give up, regardless of what’s happened so far in the game or what’s happened in the past few days,” Hernandez said. “It kind of seems repetitive, but this is who we are.”