Yanks fall to 0-7 vs. Red Sox: 'We're in a hole'

July 17th, 2021

NEW YORK -- In all likelihood, the next two weeks will determine the course of the Yankees' season: Whether they can muscle back into the American League East race, if they should buy or sell in advance of the July 30 Trade Deadline or if they can fulfill their stated goal of playing championship-caliber baseball.

That was all true even before six players landed on the COVID-19 injured list, increasing the challenges ahead. With the likes of Aaron Judge and Gio Urshela deleted from his lineup card, manager Aaron Boone saw his new-look lineup flail to a punchless 4-0 loss to the Red Sox on Friday evening at Yankee Stadium.

"We're missing important pieces in our lineup," catcher Gary Sánchez said through an interpreter. "We have a lot of young players that are here now. It's time for them to step up and help out, and eventually when our guys get better and recuperate, hopefully they can pick up where they left off."

With Trey Amburgey batting eighth in his Major League debut and several more unfamiliar faces watching from the bench, DJ LeMahieu, Giancarlo Stanton, Sánchez and Gleyber Torres combined to go 1-for-15 as the Yankees fell to 0-7 this season against the Red Sox.

"We're in a hole," Boone said. "We’ve got to play really good baseball to get back into this. We've got to have that focus, walking in those doors every day. Rinse and repeat. The urgency has got to be absolutely there every single day.”

The Bombers’ 0-7 mark is their worst start against Boston since 2009, when they lost the first eight meetings. That year concluded as a special season in the Bronx, the first at this iteration of Yankee Stadium, but that team never could have fathomed the adversity that the Yanks have swallowed within the past 24 to 48 hours.

Judge, Urshela and catcher Kyle Higashioka were added to the COVID-19 injured list before Friday’s game, while first baseman Luke Voit was out of action with a more conventional baseball injury -- a swollen left knee that marked the slugger’s third trip to the injured list this season.

Even Red Sox manager Alex Cora expressed sympathy for the Yanks’ woes.

“I know what Boonie is going through over there with the roster and it really sucks,” Cora said. “This is not about competition. This is about human beings that are going through a pandemic. It’s hard on everybody.”

Left-hander Jordan Montgomery, who permitted three runs over six innings, said that it was especially difficult to face Boston without two key offensive stars.

“We lose Judge, we lose Gio coming back from the All-Star break after a pretty good run in Seattle and Houston, winning both those series,” Montgomery said. “We’re going to keep going out there and playing hard to rebound from that as best we can.”

Nothin’ doing
Montgomery was credited with a quality start, but the Yankees mustered no support. Boston’s Eduardo Rodriguez limited the Yanks to two hits over 5 2/3 scoreless frames, walking two and striking out eight.

“He just mixed and matched and we didn't pressure him,” Boone said of Rodriguez. “We couldn't mount enough to put him in any significant trouble.”

Lack of run support has been a familiar and frustrating trend for Montgomery, who equaled an undesirable franchise record with his fifth consecutive start with zero runs of support. Bill Short (1960) and Fritz Peterson (1967) had similar stretches during their pinstriped careers.

Boston scored three runs off Montgomery, doing their damage in the second inning. Hunter Renfroe knocked in the first run with an RBI groundout and Christian Arroyo slugged a two-run homer into the Bombers’ bullpen. Montgomery scattered three hits, walking two and striking out four.

“I’m going to keep being a good teammate and supporting the hitters, whether they're not scoring runs or if they're scoring a ton of runs,” Montgomery said. “They’re trying their hardest, and I've always got their backs.”

Late show
The game featured the Major League debuts of Amburgey, who went 0-for-2 while reaching on a fifth-inning error, and Hoy Jun Park, who grounded out as a pinch-hitter in the seventh. Greg Allen laced a pinch-hit single in his Yankees debut.

Justin Wilson surrendered a solo homer to J.D. Martinez in the eighth, creating a four-run Boston advantage: An ideal opportunity to give struggling closer Aroldis Chapman some mound time, in Boone’s view.

Making his first appearance in 10 days, Chapman pitched around a walk, an errant pickoff throw and a deep Rafael Devers flyout in a scoreless ninth.

“To me, that’s the Chapman I’ve known and [have] come to experience,” Sánchez said. “As ballplayers, we all go through different struggles. You have to fight and get back on track. There’s no doubt in my mind in his abilities.”