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The Red Sox lost their fifth straight game to the Yankees on Saturday after Giancarlo Stanton hit a devastating grand slam in the eighth to give New York the lead before winning 5-3.
Here’s what happened and the takeaways from Saturday’s loss for the Red Sox.
The Red Sox got off to another slow start offensively Saturday. Yankees starter Nestor Cortes retired the first seven Boston hitters he faced. Catcher Kevin Plawecki ended that streak when he hit a solo shot over the Green Monster for the first run of the day.
Cortes’s day came to an end in the fifth, when he allowed two singles. The Red Sox got another single, loading the bases. Kyle Schwarber scored from third on a wild pitch by Michael King to make it 2-0, but two straight strikeouts ended the inning.
Red Sox starter Nick Pivetta held steady for much of his outing, not allowing a run through five and 1/3 innings pitched. But his day came to an end after a Brett Gardner double put runners at scoring position. A Hansel Robles wild pitch gave the Yankees their turn to score on such an error, but it was their only run of the inning.
The score remained 2-1 until the top of the eighth. Two walks and a hit batsman loaded the bases up for Giancarlo Stanton, who took advantage and hit a grand slam on the first pitch.
Bobby Dalbec got a run back with his solo homer in the ninth. But Aroldis Chapman got out of his own trouble, handing the Yankees a 5-3 win.
Giancarlo Stanton: 2-for-3, one walk, one home run, four RBIs.
It’s hard to pick anyone else for player of the game when someone hits a grand slam that provides the difference. For much of the day, the Red Sox’ pitching had been in control. However, shaky outings from Tanner Houck and Darwinzon Hernandez gave Stanton the opportunity to flip the game, sucking the air out of Fenway.
The Red Sox and Yankees are now tied for the American League wild card’s top spot. Due to its early-season dominance over New York, Boston has already clinched the season series between the two teams. Because of that, the Red Sox would host the Wild Card Game if both teams are tied for the top spot at the end of the season.
Entering Saturday, the Red Sox were three games ahead of the Blue Jays, who are the closest team to the second wild-card spot.
1. In July, Tanner Houck had a strong, scoreless three-run outing out of the bullpen against the Yankees. His outing on Saturday was a roller coaster.
Houck, who came in at the start of the seventh inning, threw eight straight balls to start. He changed it around in the next at-bat, going with his slider on the first two pitches, which led to Gleyber Torres grounding into a double play. He continued to throw just sliders to Gary Sanchez, who struck out swinging on three pitches to end the inning.
In the eighth, Houck remained in command to start. With his fastball finding the strike zone, Houck struck the first two Yankees hitters in the innings. But he walked the next two hitters on full counts, bookending his day with two walks.
Hernandez continued the wild inning for Red Sox pitching, hitting Anthony Rizzo on a fastball after going down 3-1 in the count. Making up for his inaccuracy against Rizzo, Hernandez threw a 94 mph fastball right down the middle in his first pitch to Giancarlo Stanton. That ball immediately left the park off Stanton’s bat, making a crucial mistake against the Yankees’ slugger.
2. Boston’s offense looked like it was about to turn the corner in this series in the fifth inning when it loaded the bases up with one out. The situation looked even better when a wild pitch scored Schwarber.
But the inning ended with two strikeouts, and so did the Red Sox’ production with men on-base for the day. They got a man on-base in each of the next four innings and failed to capitalize each time. From the bases loaded at-bat in the fifth through the end of the game, the Red Sox were 0-for-11.
The Red Sox’ struggles on Saturday with men on-base comes a day after they scored just three runs, all of which were scored on a Rafael Devers homer. In their first two games against the Yankees, the Red Sox have only had three innings in which they’ve gotten multiple runners on-base. It’s hard to win if you’re not getting men on board.
3. If there are any positives to Saturday’s game, it’s that Pivetta dished a solid outing in his start.
After allowing four earned runs in three straight starts to end August, Pivetta’s allowed just one earned run in two of his last three starts since coming back from COVID-19.
Pivetta looked sharp through five innings, retiring 15 of the first 16 Yankees hitters he faced. For the day, he had seven strikeouts and didn’t allow a walk.
4. Saturday’s game was just the latest loss for the Red Sox against a team currently holding a playoff spot. Since the trade deadline, the Red Sox have played 21 games against teams currently in the playoffs (Rays, Yankees, and White Sox). They’re 6-15 in those games, including an 0-5 record against the Yankees.
If you add the Blue Jays, who are the closest to knocking the Red Sox or Yankees out of the wild card, the Red Sox are 7-18 against those four teams. Luckily for Boston, it’s got six games against last-place Baltimore and Washington to close the season. But if the Red Sox’ recent record shows anything, they’re trending to be a quick out – whether it’s in the Wild Card Game or in the Division Series.
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