BOSTON — The wind has been taken out of the Red Sox’s sails.
The Red Sox’s four-game winning streak — the first of its kind for Boston this season — was snapped Friday night, as the New York Yankees took the teams’ series opener 5-1 at Fenway Park.
The loss was especially painful for the Red Sox because they also lost starter Clay Buchholz to an injury in the fourth inning. Buchholz has been pitching like an ace of late, so it’s a potentially big blow.
GAME IN A WORD
All of the Red Sox’s recent progress seemed so minute Friday, particularly in the fourth inning, when Boston lost both Buchholz and control of the game. The Red Sox, who entered 5 1/2 games behind the Yankees in the American League East, took a giant step backward to begin their important weekend.
Now, rather than trying to ride momentum into the All-Star break, the Red Sox must turn the page in the hopes that Friday’s loss will be their only one of the three-game series.
IT WAS OVER WHEN…
Everything went south in the fourth inning.
Buchholz left the game with right elbow tightness after surrendering a one-out double to Didi Gregorius. It cast a dark cloud over the inning and the game, as Buchholz has been the Red Sox’s most reliable starting pitcher to date and Boston simply can’t afford to lose him for any extended period.
Robbie Ross Jr. replaced Buchholz and Stephen Drew yanked a ground ball to the right side. Mike Napoli couldn’t field it cleanly, and the Yankees loaded the bases with one out. Ross retired Cole Figueroa for the second out.
The Red Sox should have been out of the bases-loaded jam unscathed when Jacoby Ellsbury grounded to second base. Brock Holt botched the play, however, and the Yankees increased their lead to 2-0.
Brett Gardner followed with a ground ball to the right side. It looked like the potential third out, but Gardner hustled his way to an infield single. He dived head-first to beat Ross to the bag.
Ross walked Alex Rodriguez, who homered in the first inning, with the bases loaded to give the Yankees a 4-0 advantage. It was a disastrous frame all-around for Boston.
ON THE BUMP
— Buchholz was charged with three runs (one earned) over 3 1/3 innings. He gave up six hits, including a solo homer to A-Rod, and struck out three.
The big news, of course, centered on Buchholz’s injury. There was nothing noticeable about Buchholz’s final pitch, but he stepped off the rubber, at which point catcher Sandy Leon went out to check on the right-hander before motioning to the dugout for manager John Farrell and the Red Sox’s trainer.
The Red Sox wasted little time in removing Buchholz. He didn’t attempt a warmup pitch or anything.
— Ross went 3 2/3 innings in relief of Buchholz. He retired 10 of the final 11 batters he faced. The only hit he allowed after the fourth inning was a two-out single to Mark Teixeira in the seventh.
— Matt Barnes faced two batters in the eighth inning. He walked Chris Young and hit Gregorius with a pitch.
— Craig Breslow replaced Barnes in the eighth with runners at first and second. He recorded two outs before surrendering an RBI single to Ellsbury.
Mookie Betts drilled the pitcher’s mound with a throw home for the second time this week.
— Justin Masterson worked a 1-2-3 ninth inning. It was his first relief appearance of the season.
IN THE BATTER’S BOX
— Betts smoked his 10th home run of the season in the fifth inning.
He also struck out twice and stranded a runner at third base in the seventh inning.
— David Ortiz and Hanley Ramirez went a combined 0-for-8 with two strikeouts. They were the only two players in the Red Sox’s starting lineup without a hit.
— Napoli was drilled on the forearm by a 94-mph pitch in his first plate appearance upon returning to the starting lineup.
He singled into left field in the fourth inning, though Alejandro De Aza struck out to strand two runners.
TWEET OF THE GAME
The Red Sox and Yankees have two more head-to-head matchups on the calendar before the All-Star break. Eduardo Rodriguez will face Ivan Nova in a Saturday night showdown at Fenway Park.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images