You could hear ”Let’s go Yankees” echo throughout the concourse at Fenway Park late Saturday evening.
The signature chant followed, by the familiar five-clap rhythmic count, could be heard in a Red Sox clubhouse that was muzzled in silence, leaving six or so Sox players within earshot of the New York fans’ celebration.
They had to sit in it, dealing with the truth that they let a series victory slip away against the Yankees in a 3-2 nail-biting loss.
After a squeeze play by Isiah Kiner-Falefa put the Yankees ahead in the top of the ninth the Sox had something going in the home half. Much like Friday, when the Sox tied it up, 2-2, in the ninth, the team, it seemed, had something cooking against a leaking Yankee bullpen.
The Sox had two on and one out following back-to-back singles by Reese McGuire and Tommy Pham off reliever Scott Effross. It brought Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts to the plate. Both have been struggling. Devers came into the at-bat 4 for his last 40, and sporting an 0 for 4 evening. Bogaerts was 1 for 4 with a strikeout. His one hit was a double in the seventh, but he was picked off by reliever Aroldis Chapman while attempting to swipe third for the final out of the inning, an uncharacteristic play for Bogaerts.
“We can not get picked off there,” Alex Cora said after the game.
Yet Bogaerts had a chance to redeem himself and Devers could have wiggled his way out of this funk.
Ultimately, though, this wasn’t their evening. Devers hit a dribbler in front of the plate. Yankee catcher Jose Trevino made a gutsy play, electing to throw to second to cut down Pham, the tying run. Bogaerts popped out to first baseman Anthony Rizzo, forcing a rubber match Sunday. Bogaerts and Devers finished a combined 1 for 9. If you include J.D. Martinez’s 0 for 4 night, that’s 1 for 13.
“The core of your lineup, you gotta hit,” Martinez said. “When you don’t, most of the time, it’s tough to win games. It’s on us to figure it out.”
The Yankees figured out a way to bring across a run in the ninth.
With the game tied, 2-2, the Sox needed two innings from John Schreiber after his two innings against the Orioles just a couple days prior, knowing he would be unavailable Sunday.
Scrheiber negotiated a scoreless eighth but with one out in the ninth, Andrew Benintendi pounded a one-out double off the wall in center. Trevino tapped an infield single, moving Benintendi to third. Then Kiner-Falefa worked in that squeeze play, scoring Benintendi for the winning run.
“It was a perfect bunt,” Cora said. “There was nothing we could do about it.”
The Sox’ only runs came in the fourth inning when Jarren Duran was hit with a cutter from Yankees starter Frankie Montas with the bases loaded. The Sox’ 1-0 lead doubled after a McGuire sacrifice fly to center enabled Eric Hosmer to beat an on-target throw by Aaron Hicks.
On the mound, the Red Sox needed length from starter Kutter Crawford after Friday night’s 10-inning walkoff win. They were down Garrett Whitlock, who tossed two innings to close out the game. Likely Matt Barnes and Ryan Brasier, too, who both tossed an inning.
The Sox’ reliance on Crawford came on the heels of what was his worst appearance of the season last week against the Royals. Crawford yielded five runs over five innings in a loss.
Crawford wiped his hands clean for Saturday’s start however, going six quality innings, eluding any real serious damage.
Crawford cruised through his first three innings without surrendering a hit, tossing first-pitch strikes to 11 of the first 14 batters he faced. The effectiveness of those strikes helped establish at-bats, leading to six swings and misses the first time through the order and three strikeouts through three innings.
The second time through the order, however, proved to be a battle for the righthander. After recording the first two outs of the fourth, Crawford let Rizzo off the hook with a two-out walk. Josh Donaldson then smoked a single to right-center and had it not been for the slow-footed Rizzo, the Yankees would have had their first run of the game. Alex Verdugo made a running catch on a Gleyber Torres liner to right to end the threat.
“He made some pitches,” Cora said. “They hit some balls hard but we played good defense behind him. The kid he understands. He watches the game and made some adjustments.”
Crawford’s stuff began to fade in the fifth. He walked Benintendi after a nine-pitch at-bat. Later, Crawford left a cutter over the heart of the plate that Kiner-Falefa stung for a two-run homer into the monster seats, tying the game at two apiece. It was Kiner-Falefa’s first home run in 103 games this season.
“I got a little bit of a bad taste in my mouth,” Crawford said.
The Sox (56-59) know that bad taste all too well.