Red Sox

4 takeaways as the Red Sox squandered a three-run lead and fell, 4-3, to the Yankees

Nathan Eovaldi was electric most of the night, but it wasn't enough in the end.

Nathan Eovaldi allowed two earned runs in 7 2/3 innings. Michael Dwyer/AP Photo

The Yankees scored four runs in the eighth inning, rallying to stun the Red Sox, 4-3, at Fenway Park on Saturday.

Red Sox starter Nathan Eovaldi was electric most the evening, but he ran into trouble in the eighth and ended up allowing two earned runs on seven hits in 7 ⅔ innings. Adam Ottavino came in and surrendered two runs on three hits while recording just one out. 

The Red Sox, who were firmly in control most of the way, ended up suffering their first home loss to the Yankees this season. 

“It’s a tough one,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “That’s baseball, right?”

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Here’s a closer look at how it all unfolded.

The big picture

The Red Sox had a chance to extend their winning streak to five games and move to 10-2 against the Yankees. Instead, they were dealt one of their more head-scratching setbacks of the season. 

Eovaldi was one strike away from tossing eight shutout innings before Brett Gardner drove in Estevan Florial with a single to right. Ottavino replaced Eovaldi and surrendered a ground-rule double to Giancarlo Stanton, a double to Rougned Odor that made it 3-3, and a single to Gleyber Torres that gave the Yankees the lead.

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The Red Sox had runners at the corners in the eighth and second and third in the ninth but ultimately fell short. 

“That’s how it works,” Cora said. “Sometimes it works to your advantage. Tonight, it didn’t work to our advantage.”

Stars of the game

For the Red Sox, it was Eovaldi, who threw 82 of his 100 pitches for strikes, didn’t walk any, and was dominant most of the way. What ended up as a lukewarm ending at best doesn’t overshadow how well he pitched overall. Catcher Kevin Plawecki finished 2 for 4 with an RBI and is now hitting .306 since May 1.

For the Yankees, it was Gardner, who delivered one of the most timely hits of the series and kept the Yankees afloat. Florial also had two hits, Torres came through in the clutch, and Aroldis Chapman found a way in a tense ninth.

What it means

A rocky eighth inning soured what began as another promising night for the Red Sox.

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After the Red Sox rallied in games one and two of the series, the Yankees flipped the script to avoid falling behind by 10 games in the division. The Red Sox are now 7-32 when scoring three runs or fewer, 36-16 when scoring first, and 18-11 in one-run games.

Takeaways

1. The Red Sox started hot, as Kiké Hernández became the first Boston hitter to lead off a game with a triple and come home on an error since Jeff McNeely in 1993.

J.D. Martinez doubled and scored on a Plawecki double off the Green Monster in the second to make it 2-0. Jarren Duran zipped all the way to second on a misplayed grounder from second baseman Rougned Odor, moved to third on a Xander Bogaerts groundout, and flew home on a Rafael Devers sacrifice fly to help build the cushion.

2. Eovaldi was dominant on the mound, until he wasn’t. Through two innings, 22 of his 25 pitches were strikes. After three, he had more strikeouts (five) than balls (four). In the seventh, Franchy Cordero and Xander Bogaerts made solid defensive plays as Eovaldi continued to cruise.

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That’s when everything went awry, and it did so in a hurry. Despite the unpleasant ending, and the obvious disappointment, Eovaldi was pleased with his performance. 

“I made a few mechanical adjustments yesterday to help with my timing, and I felt like that showed today,” he said. 

He said he’ll take his chances with the bullpen every time, and this game simply didn’t work out in their favor. Cora added that Eovaldi was “locked in” and acknowledged it was frustrating for his night to end the way it did. 

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“Overall, he was amazing,” Cora said. 

3. When Eovaldi exited to a standing ovation, the Red Sox still had a chance to escape with their lead intact. The right-hander Ottavino, a Manhattan native who pitched at Northeastern University and in the Cape Cod Baseball League, made it clear it was an aggravating loss for both him personally and the team.

The Yankees didn’t crush his pitches, but they didn’t have to, as a series of well-placed hits ended up making the difference. Ottavino said he felt good about his process and bad about the results. He chose not to identify a specific pitch that will stick with him, instead taking blame for the overall trajectory of the inning.

“I didn’t want to give up a hit to any of them, so they all pissed me off,” Ottavino said. “ … I think if you see my body language during the game, it’s probably pretty clear that I was stunned by the ordeal. Then again, it’s baseball, and it’s a cruel game sometimes.”

4. Cora said after the game that left-handed starter Eduardo Rodriguez, who exited in the second inning Friday to migraine symptoms, “felt OK” and used Saturday as a rest day. 

He came by the ballpark briefly before going back home, and the Red Sox will examine him again Sunday to see how he’s doing and reassess from there.

“Hopefully everything goes well tomorrow,” Cora said. “Then we can map it out for the week.”

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