BOSTON -- Yankees manager Aaron Boone slipped through Fenway Park's visiting clubhouse and disappeared into his office with a plate of food for some solitude, his mind set and focused on one thing -- tomorrow."I'm a broken record," Boone said. "Tomorrow is always really important."But with the Yanks at risk
BOSTON -- Yankees manager Aaron Boone slipped through Fenway Park's visiting clubhouse and disappeared into his office with a plate of food for some solitude, his mind set and focused on one thing -- tomorrow.
"I'm a broken record," Boone said. "Tomorrow is always really important."
But with the Yanks at risk of being swept in this four-game series by the Red Sox, a win on Sunday is especially crucial. The Yankees' offense was shut down once again Saturday, as they fell to the Sox, 4-1, at Fenway Park.
The loss stretched the Yankees' losing streak to four games, their longest of the season, as they have dropped three straight to the Red Sox to fall 8 1/2 games behind their rivals in the American League East standings.
How can the Yankees keep their focus trained on tomorrow when a season's worth of momentum is in jeopardy?
"It's obviously a thought," Giancarlo Stanton said. "... It's reality, so you've got to understand it. But you've got to try to keep it simple. We lost today, we've got to win tomorrow. That's it. We know what the deficit is, we know what's at stake."
After Carsten Sabathia and Luis Severino both struggled in the first two games of the series, Yankees No. 13 prospect Chance Adams made a solid MLB debut. While he gave up two home runs -- Mitch Moreland's two-run homer in the first inning and J.D. Martinez's solo blast in the fourth -- he also held the Red Sox to three hits and a walk in five innings of three-run ball.
Adams even struck out Mookie Betts, his first time fanning a batter in the Majors and one of two strikeouts he recorded. He said he was nervous until he stepped on the field to warm up. Then, he prayed and settled down. Not even Moreland's home run could rattle him.
"It's baseball, it's a good lineup, they're gonna hit homers and stuff," Adams said. "I just had to calm myself down and know to make my pitches."
But the Yankees couldn't muster the run support to bolster Adams' effort. Nathan Eovaldi held the Yanks to three hits and one walk in eight scoreless innings. Boone said Eovaldi's cutter made him lethal.
Boone is not going to change the team's preparation or his message. In his eyes, there's nothing to adjust. The talent, the focus, the preparation, the hitting -- all of the pieces are there.
"I have no issue with what's going on in there," Boone said. "We're just running through a little bit of a tough stretch that we've got to fight our way out of."
Didi Gregorius contributed an RBI double in the ninth and the Yankees loaded the bases with two outs against Craig Kimbrel, but Greg Bird flied out to center to end the game. The Yanks are now 55-10 when their opponents score four or fewer runs.
Between Saturday and Rick Porcello's complete-game one-hitter on Friday, the Yankees have been held to six hits and a home run in the past two games after opening the series with four home runs on Thursday. The offense needs to flash its power, but the hits aren't falling.
So the Yankees will go the only way they can -- forward. The Red Sox move further ahead in the division race with each win, but the Yankees have to ignore that. Instead, they will focus on learning from mistakes and breaking through in the next contest.
"Keep focused," Stanton said. "Understand it's just a bad stretch and not hold [our] heads down and just keep pushing. I mean, that's all we can do."
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
The Yankees' offense finally clicked in the ninth inning, when back-to-back, two-out doubles by Stanton and Gregorius scored their first run since Miguel Andujar's solo home run in the third on Friday. Aaron Hicks drew a walk, and as Gleyber Torres stepped up to bat as the tying run, it looked like the Yankees had a shot at a comeback. Torres drew a walk to load the bases, but Kimbrel induced the flyout from Bird to end the game.
"You have their closer in -- first and foremost, you want to make it difficult on him," Boone said. "To get his pitch count up to , you know, maybe that impacts tomorrow. But to give ourselves a chance there, to bring the go-ahead run to the plate … I just thought our guys continued to battle and I thought had really good at-bats against an elite closer there."
This four-game losing streak is the Yankees' longest since August of last season. They have fallen in eight of their last 10 games at Fenway Park. These last two games mark the first time since June 1-2, 2013, that the Yankees have been held to one or zero runs in back-to-back games against the Red Sox -- and the first time that's happened at Fenway Park since Sept. 20-21, 1991.
HE SAID IT
"I think if you walk through our room out there, to a man, we know we can absolutely play with [the Red Sox]. We know when we're at our best, we can beat them. So I think we acknowledge who they are right now, and that's -- there's no denying the season they're having. But we have a lot of confidence in our group and a lot of fight, and hopefully tomorrow starts the digging out." -- Boone, on competing against the Red Sox
Masahiro Tanaka will start for the Yankees in the finale of their four-game series at Fenway Park on Sunday night at 8:05 ET. Tanaka has been especially stellar lately, with a 2.36 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP in his last seven starts. His past two outings featured a shutout with nine strikeouts against the Rays and a six-inning scoreless start with eight strikeouts against the Orioles. Tanaka will face Red Sox lefty David Price.
Blake Richardson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Boston.