The Red Sox crumbled in the top of the eighth inning of Sunday’s 6-3 loss to the Yankees. Just as they did the previous evening. Giancarlo Stanton had his hand in it again, too.
The Sox led, 3-2, heading into the frame after the Yankees had a disastrous inning of their own in the seventh, behind dropped popups by DJ LeMahieu and Joey Gallo that would have ended it with no damage.
In the fateful eighth, Garrett Richards walked the No. 9 hitter, Gio Urshela. Tyler Wade, who pinch ran for Urshela, was thrown out attempting to steal. But Richards relinquished a walk to LeMahieu and a double to Anthony Rizzo. That brought up Aaron Judge, and subsequently, the Red Sox implosion, resulting in a series sweep.
“We played some competitive games but we didn’t get the job done,” manager Alex Cora said. “Very simple.”
Cora called on Adam Ottavino to face Judge, who steered a foul ball toward Bobby Dalbec in foul territory, but Dalbec let up once he saw the fenced-in area toward the first base stands and dropped the ball. It gave Judge life.
He received even more of it after Christian Vázquez dropped what would have been strike three on a Judge foul tip. Replay showed that the drop could have been on the transfer. But home plate umpire Joe West thought differently. Vázquez believed he caught the ball but the play wasn’t reviewable.
“That’s the first time that happened to me,” Vázquez said. “I don’t know how to react.”
Judge, however, did know how to react.
He scalded a two-run double to center to give the Yankees a 4-3 lead. One batter later, Stanton smoked a two-run homer, his third of the series and giving him 10 RBIs in the three-game set.
“You can make a bad pitch, it doesn’t mean he’s going to hit it 1,000 feet,” Ottavino said in regards to the Stanton homer. “It takes two to do that. That’s credit to him there. But that was a bad pitch.”
After starting the season 7-0 against the Yankees, the Red Sox went 3-9 the rest of the way.
The Red Sox fell into the second AL wild card spot, a game behind the Yankees, but also only one game ahead of the Blue Jays and two clear of the Mariners with six games to play. But the Sox have soft landings coming up against both the Orioles and Nationals to end their season. The Yankees and Toronto have to play each other.
“We still have a wild-card spot,” Cora said. “We know that the Jays and the Yankees are playing against each other. So for how big this weekend was, I think, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, they’re probably bigger. We know that somebody’s going to lose in the next three games and we can gain ground. Just make sure you’re locked in and play good baseball.”
Sunday night’s contest very well could have been Eduardo Rodriguez’s final start at Fenway Park.
In a season that has been a disappointment for Rodriguez and a game that had playoff implications against the rival Yankees, Rodriguez showed up to pitch. But he wasn’t around for the end.
Rodriguez entered Sunday night’s contest with a 4.97 ERA. In his previous outing against the Mets, Rodriguez tossed 4⅓ innings, allowing two runs before being pulled by Cora.
Rodriguez navigated his way through five innings in this one, surrendering two runs while striking out eight. Yet much like Nick Pivetta on Saturday, the Sox’ offense offered little punch while Rodriguez was on the mound against Yankee starter Jordan Montgomery
“I mean, location is always what makes you better,” Rodriguez said regarding his start. “I felt like I was able to locate my pitches where I wanted.”
The Red Sox have six games left in the season, both against opponents that are well-below .500. While the weekend sweep against the Yankees might have stung, Sunday might not be the last time the Sox fans will see their team play at Fenway.
“I mean it’s not what we wanted,” Cora said. “We want to win the series and get that first wild-card spot. But it didn’t happen. But we still are in position to make the playoffs.”