NEW YORK -- Nearly every afternoon throughout this homestand, Clint Frazier has been among the earliest-arriving Yankees, frequently teaming with Aaron Judge to polish their routes and track fly balls in front of the right-field fence.
Defense has clearly become a priority, though it remains a work in progress. Frazier endured arguably his most trying evening as a big leaguer Sunday evening, watching as the Red Sox took advantage of his misadventures to pad a big lead, then hold on for an 8-5 victory over the Yankees.
"There's going to be days where things seem like they are not going your way," Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks said. "It kind of seems like the ball is always being hit to you. That’s just the time where you learn over time, you've just got to slow the game down."
CC Sabathia returned from the injured list to provide a quality start, but Boston pulled away from what had been a one-run game in the seventh inning. With Luis Cessa on the mound, Frazier whiffed on an Eduardo Nunez ground-ball single that allowed a run to score, then dove and missed an Andrew Benintendi hit that produced another run.
"Give him credit; he tried diving for a ball to make up for one," Luke Voit said. "He missed it, but we still trust him. He's working out there every day. I know other guys are out there trying to help him. We've just got to stay positive. It's nice to have this off-day coming [Monday] to hit the reset button for him."
In the eighth, Frazier pursued a Michael Chavis fly that dropped near the foul line, rolling past him for a run-scoring triple. Frazier declined to speak with reporters after the game, but manager Aaron Boone said he believes the 24-year-old is pressing when he is in the outfield.
"He's working his tail off, and as I've talked about, he's making strides out there," Boone said. "But obviously there's been some mistakes along the way too, and that's part of continuing to develop as a young player. That's an area of his game that isn't as far along, necessarily, as his offensive game, but he's working hard at it."
Before Frazier became a topic of discussion, Sabathia offered stability to a Yankees rotation in need of reinforcements. Having had his troublesome right knee drained following a May 22 effort at Baltimore, Sabathia served up solo homers to J.D. Martinez and Xander Bogaerts, but was able to limit Boston to three runs and seven hits over six innings.
"I felt pretty good," said Sabathia, who walked none and struck out eight. "I was effective enough to go out and try to make pitches. Just a couple of pitches missed."
New York managed a pair of runs off Price, who retired the first 10 men he faced before hitting a troublesome patch in the fourth inning.
Voit hit his 15th homer and three straight singles followed, but the Yanks ran themselves out of the inning as Gleyber Torres and Hicks took the bat out of Frazier’s hands on a botched double steal.
"You just try to do the best you can to score," Hicks said. "It turned into a rundown. You just try to get out of it."
Price completed 6 1/3 innings to pick up the victory, his first at Yankee Stadium while wearing a Boston uniform. He had been 0-6 with a 9.79 ERA in six Yankee Stadium starts since joining the Red Sox prior to the 2016 season.
Down 8-2 after 7 1/2 innings, the Yankees made things interesting as an impressive thunder and lightning show crashed over the South Bronx. Three runs scored after the Yanks loaded the bases with none out against Matt Barnes, but Brandon Workman set the Yanks down in the ninth inning.
"The team battled back," Sabathia said. "We were right there, had opportunities to win the game. That’s all you can ask for, chances to win the games. We’ve been doing that consistently."
Frazier never appeared in the clubhouse as the Yankees zipped their bags for their charter flight to Toronto, but Boone said the club would effort to keep his confidence high in the wake of an exceedingly bad day at the office.
"That's on him, on us, to continue to grow from the work," Boone said. "That's why you work so hard at it. When you get really good at something, confidence follows. He knows he's capable of it, and he knows he's the type of athlete that can do it, so we just have to keep after it."