It’s already hard enough to beat the Yankees, who are on pace for one of the best regular seasons in baseball history. But when you line up Triple-A pitching against them and gift them runs, they’re just about unbeatable.
The Yankees, in their first trip to Fenway Park this season, are imposing their will on the shorthanded Red Sox. It got ugly on Friday night.
Connor Seabold, making another spot start, was shelled. Christian Arroyo, playing a position he just started learning this spring but forced to play for a crucial division game, made an embarrassing gaffe in right field. And to add insult to injury, Rafael Devers had to leave the game due to injury. The Red Sox were beaten 12-5 as they lost their fourth game in a row and eighth in their last 11.
The Red Sox look like they need the All-Star break right now. Not after nine more games against the Yankees and Rays.
“It’s part of what comes with it,” Arroyo said. “Guys get banged up, but hopefully we can get these guys going, get to the All-Star break, play some good baseball to end it, flip the script a little bit.”
It’s not a good time — in fact, it’s the worst possible time — for the Red Sox to be facing the toughest and most critical part of their schedule. Down 10 players to the injured list — including almost their entire starting rotation — more than one-third of the Red Sox’ active roster are players who started the season in the minor leagues. It’s being exposed by the best team in baseball.
The Red Sox’ pitching staff was so depleted Friday night that Jackie Bradley Jr. pitched the ninth in a lopsided game. And it doesn’t figure to get much better on Saturday, which is scheduled to be a bullpen game led by Kutter Crawford.
Seabold was the third rookie in as many games to start for a Red Sox rotation that is in desperate need for the return of Nathan Eovaldi and the debut of Chris Sale. It got ugly quickly for the rookie, who was crushed in the first inning as he gave up four runs — including a three-run homer by Josh Donaldson — that put the Sox in an early hole. He needed 37 pitches to get out of the first.
The Red Sox fought back against Nestor Cortes — scoring two runs in the bottom half — and actually handed the Yankees’ ace one of his worst starts of the season. But Seabold was too overmatched for it to matter.
“If I had to sum it up with one word, I’d say bad,” Seabold said. “Just not attacking guys, not getting ahead. Every guy was 2-0, 2-1. … It’s past the point of learning experience. It’s like, I need to be throwing strikes early on and often and I’m not doing that right now.”
The Yankees scored another run in the second before it turned even uglier in the third. Seabold issued a leadoff walk to Aaron Hicks, then served up a double to Jose Trevino in left. And then, with one out, Joey Gallo hit a routine fly ball to right field. Arroyo, making his 15th start of the season in right field, completely lost the ball and raised both of his arms in the air in an act of resignation.
The ball sailed over his head and landed deep in right. When he finally tracked it down and relayed it home, two runs scored before Gallo — attempting what would have been a ridiculous inside-the-park home run — was thrown out at the plate.
Arroyo said he simply didn’t see the ball in the Boston night.
“It was absolutely twilight,” he said. “Ball went up and kind of go into panic mode. It’s a terrible feeling. You just feel kind of helpless out there, but I don’t really know what else you can do. You can’t catch what you can’t see, right? …
“I wish I could say I would work on it, but the only time you see twilight is during the game, so it’s just a helpless feeling. Not really happy, obviously.”
It was the last pitch of the night for Seabold, who exited the game with right forearm extensor tightness as he joined the growing list of injured Red Sox pitchers. Seabold didn’t seem worried about it, but wasn’t sure when he would have an MRI.
“I’m not too concerned,” Seabold said. “Obviously we’re going to have to wait and see until tomorrow, see how it feels. As of right now, I’m not super concerned, but we’ll see.”
The Yankees went up 9-2 against Michael Feliz in the fourth, but the Red Sox tried to mount a comeback. Trevor Story and Bobby Dalbec hit solo homers to make it a five-run game. But without Devers, a rally seemed unlikely. The third baseman, who missed two games this week due to a sore hamstring and back, left the game in the fifth due to low back pain after he was seen wincing in the dugout.
Manager Alex Cora said Devers hurt his back when he ran into the Yankees’ dugout railing chasing a foul ball. He’ll be out of Saturday’s lineup.
The Red Sox, somehow, were one swing away from tying the game in the sixth. But with the bases loaded after Alex Verdugo drew a two-out walk, Story popped out to second.
It was ultimately the Red Sox’ last threat, as the Yankees added a run in each of the final three innings. Bradley Jr. — in his first career pitching appearance — struck out D.J. LeMahieu before walking in a run.
The Red Sox are now 9-20 in the division, and will go 0-9 in series against AL East teams with a loss on Saturday or Sunday.
BOSTON, MA – July 8:Boston Red Sox right fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. (19) throws as a relief pitcher in the 9th as the Red Sox take on the YankeeÕs at Fenway Park on July 8, 2022 in , BOSTON, MA. (Staff Photo By Stuart Cahill/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald) BOSTON, MA – July 8: Boston Red Sox Connor Seabold walks back to the mound after giving up a 2 run HR in the first as the Red Sox take on the Yankees at Fenway Park on July 8, 2022 in , BOSTON, MA. (Staff Photo By Stuart Cahill/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)