As Bullpen Stumbles, Yankees Fall to Five Games Back of Red Sox

Lynette Rowe
August 19, 2017

After all, if the bullpen isn't the one clear-cut advantage over the Sox the Yankees thought it would be down the stretch, they're simply not catching their arch-rivals in this AL East race.

- Joe Kelly followed Barnes and plunked Aaron Hicks to load the bases, but the right-hander responded by getting Aaron Judge to ground out and end the inning. But Todd Frazier hit a two-run homer in the sixth, then NY scored four in the seventh to take a 6-3 lead. Drew Pomeranz went 3.1 innings before leaving with a back injury, throwing a four hit shutout while striking out four up to that point. It would only get uglier for Kelly, as Sanchez's shot was followed by a walk and a single, which prompted Red Sox manager John Farrell to yank the right-hander from the contest. "Some hit batters [and three] walks in there".

It's not fun to lose games like this, of course, but both of these teams are nearly surely headed for the postseason and, who knows, maybe their first October meeting since The Rivalry peaked in 2003 and '04 with those ultra-intense ALCS matchups.

Farrell turned to Robby Scott to face lefty hitter Brett Gardner.

Lost in the bullpen's meltdown was the Yankees' continued poor hitting with runners in scoring position.

In any case, the add-on runs made for a 9-6 final, as the Sox late-inning combination of Addison Reed and Craig Kimbrel was practically flawless.

Green, who came in ranked second among AL relievers with a 1.66 ERA, pitched a scoreless sixth but ran into trouble in the seventh. Girardi went to the bullpen and brought in Kahnle, who couldn't salvage the inning. He then ignored the baserunners, so they were able to pull off a double steal before Jackie Bradley, Jr. brought them both home on a single to center.

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Immediately, ex-Yankee Eduardo Nunez hit a tapper back at Kahnle, which he couldn't handle, loading the bases.

After three and a half hours on the bench, Moreland was called upon to pinch hit with the bases loaded. Doug Fister will continue to serve as the fifth starter for now, and Brian Johnson could add some depth to the rotation if the Red Sox want to rest the occasional starter when rosters expand in September.

By doing what they did Friday night, the Red Sox can accomplish something more this weekend. Bradley's two-run single made it 9-6.

It's safe to say this series is make-or-break for the Yankees.

The defeat kicked off the three-game set with a kick in the teeth for the Yankees, whose dreams of catching Boston in the division are falling away like President Donald Trump's top advisors.

The Yankees still have six games this season to play against Boston - two this weekend and another four at home from August 31 - September 3.

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