Yankees come up short in bases-loaded spots
Twice in the first four innings Monday night at Fenway Park the Yankees had the bases loaded and none out and they made the least of the situation by getting only one run each time. In the fifth, they filled the bags again, this time with two out, and came away with no runs.
So it seemed fitting somehow that in the ninth inning a bases-loaded scenario would present itself to the Yankees, who once again could not come up with a big hit, in this case one that could have pulled the game out on a night when the Blue Jays suffered a rare loss. A victory would have brought the Yankees even with Toronto in the loss column, but the Red Sox held on to win, 4-3.
Jean Machi, the new Boston closer now that Koji Uehara is done for the season with a wrist injury, had a brutal inning in the ninth with 18 of his 33 pitches out of the strike zone. He walked three batters, one of them forcing home a run, and somehow got called third strikes past Carlos Beltran and Greg Bird.
The Yankees still had a chance with two outs in Didi Gregorius, who was 4-for-4 to that point in the game and 11-for-16 (.688) in his past four game combined. Gregorius had gotten the only hit the Yankees had in a bases-loaded situation with a run-scoring single in the fourth inning. He brought the crowd to its feet with a long drive to right field, but Rusney Castill caught the ball on the warning track.
That was how close the Yankees came to a fourth straight victory that would have nudged them closer to first place in the American League East. Their failure in a wide assortment of scoring opportunities resulted in the Yankees leaving 14 runners on base, including 10 in the first six innings when they continually had eventual winning pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez (8-5) on the ropes.
Yankees starter Ivan Nova (5-7) had a good sinker that produced nine groundouts, but when he got the ball paid for it on a two-run home run by Mookie Betts in the third inning and a solo shot by David Ortiz in the fourth.
The Red Sox scored what proved the winning run in the seventh when rookie first baseman Greg Bird bobbled slightly a potential double play ball and had to settle for one out as Jackie Bradley Jr. scored from third base.
The Yankees also had help from the Red Sox, who made two errors in the first inning that helped create the Yankees’ first base-loaded episode. A single by Alex Rodriguez filled the bags for Beltran, who got a run home with a sacrifice fly, but that was it as Brian McCann flied out to shallow right and Chase Headley struck out looking.
A leadoff walk by McCann in the fourth followed by Headley and Bird singles promised another big inning for the Yankees, but after Gregorius’ single to center plated McCann, Brendan Ryan hit a comebacker to Eduardo Rodriguez, who got an out at the plate, and Jacoby Ellsbury flied out into a double play as Bradley threw out Bird at home trying to score.
The next inning, the Yankees had the bags full after two out on Beltran’s 500th career double and walks to McCann and Headley before Bird struck out.
These frustrating rallies made it an exceedingly long (3 hours, 44 minutes) and disappointing night for the Yankees. After the game, it was announced which minor-league players will be called up as rosters expand Tuesday: pitchers Andrew Bailey, Caleb Cotham and James Pazos; infielders Jose Pirela and Rob Refsnyder; infielder-outfielder Dustin Ackley; outfielder Rico Noel and catcher Austin Romine.