NEW YORK — The Red Sox have just 12 games left this season, yet they are still creating more ways to lose.
Friday’s contest with the Yankees was the latest example.
The Sox had two outs in the bottom of the eighth. Matt Strahm was on the hill, looking to work a scoreless frame in a contest that the Sox battled back to tie, 4-4.
Strahm, however, made it tough on his club.
Harrison Bader drew a two-out, pinch-hit walk. With Jose Trevino at the dish, down 1-2 in the count, Strahm attempted a pickoff. Bader was moving on the throw. The Sox had him. But an errant throw to first baseman Triston Casas sailed into foul territory. Bader reached third.
On the next pitch, Trevino banged an RBI line-drive single to center that ultimately downed the Sox, 5-4, in the second game of a four-game set.
“We can look at the error, of course,” said manager Alex Cora after the Sox fell to 23-26 in one-run contests this year. “But the two-out walk put us in a bad spot. It’s the same script: we get close, we come back, and we don’t finish the game.”
For the second night in a row Friday, the Sox rallied, only to lose.
The team grinded out at-bats against Yankees starter Gerrit Cole. He surrendered just one run through five innings. Tommy Pham tagged him for a solo shot in the first. On paper, Cole’s numbers were solid. But the Sox wobbled the legs of the Yankee ace, working his pitch count up to 73 heading into the sixth.
With the Sox down, 4-1, in the sixth, it looked as if Cole would get out of it despite two men reaching base. He struck out Yu Chang, but Kiké Hernández doubled down the right field line. Rafael Devers negotiated a walk and Pham fanned.
With two outs, Alex Verdugo worked the count to 2-2 before drilling a 100 mile-per-hour offering into the Yankees bullpen, tying the game at four apiece.
By the end of the inning, Cole was at 103 pitches. Indeed, a 30-pitch frame. Moments later, he was ejected for arguing balls and strikes and manager Aaron Boone followed. Cole’s cavil? The 1-2 pitch to Verdugo which Cole thought he painted low and away.
He did not.
“It wasn’t even close,” Verdugo said. “He can complain all he wants. The goal of this game is to throw it over the white plate. He wants to steal every pitch and he wants his catcher to steal it and he’s just mad that the outcome happened on our side. If you go and look at any of those pitches, whether you’re a pitcher, a hitter, a scout, just a fan, clearly balls.”
Rich Hill had Yankee slugger Aaron Judge out of sorts.
Judge, who is still a homer shy of tying Roger Maris’s all-time Yankees (and American League) record of 61 homers in a season, didn’t have any luck against Hill, going 0 for 3 with two strikeouts. Judge finished 1 for 4 with a seventh-inning single.
He swung through three cutters in his first at-bat. After a towering fly out by Judge in the third, Hill employed a changeup — a pitch he’s thrown just 65 times this year — cutter, and curveball to strike out Judge.
“He’s put himself in this MVP-esque season,” Hill said. “He’s had a great season. As far as facing him, it was making sure that we had a good mix going. Not being consistent with back-to-back same pitches.”
Hill crafted a solid outing overall, but did not have the same luck against the rest of the Yankees lineup as he had against Judge when the game reached the back part of his five-inning outing. The only early damage came in the third when Aaron Hicks blasted a solo shot to tie the game, 1-1.
In the fifth, after a single and a walk, Hicks got to Hill again, this time with an RBI single. Later in the inning, Gleyber Torres steered a two-run single down the left field line, stretching the Yankees’ lead to 4-1.
The Verdugo homer shifted the ballgame, it seemed. Until the Sox’ blunders — three errors — popped up again. With history in play for the Yankees and Judge this season, the Sox have made the type of history they hope to forget.
“With how bad our record is right now, we’ve had a lot of games that we’re very winnable that could easily be the other way around,” Verdugo said.