Sox stymied again in Bronx: 'We never quit'

August 18th, 2020

As the Red Sox left Yankee Stadium on Monday night -- mercifully for the final time this season -- the situation was jarring.

A 6-3 loss gave Boston a 10th straight loss to the Yankees for the first time since 1952-53.

For all the twists and turns this great rivalry has taken, it had been 67 years since things were this slanted in favor of the Yankees in head-to-head competition.

At Yankee Stadium, the Sox have lost 11 in a row. Since that joyful night when they clinched the 2018 American League Division Series with a tense win in the Bronx, the Red Sox are 1-15 in road games against the Yankees.

Things have been so grim in recent rivalry matches for the Red Sox that catcher didn't even sound willing to contemplate how much things have turned since those 2018 playoffs.

"I think the only thing I can tell is they have no rings [since then] and I have one," said Vázquez. "We beat them in the playoffs, and I like my ring."

Such a one-sided rivalry isn't what losing pitcher had in mind when he joined Boston as a free agent in December.

"This is the first year I've been here, and facing the Yankees, that's one of my dreams I had," Pérez said. "Getting beat by the Yankees is not good. It's a bad feeling, but like I say, that's baseball, man. How we're playing right now, it's hard to win, because I think we haven't put everything together."

The teams will finally meet at Fenway Park for the first and only series this season Sept. 18-20.

"They won it a couple years ago, so they've still got really good players," said Yankees slugger Luke Voit, who mashed two homers. "It's a big-time series every time you play these guys. We always bring it. They've been fighting the injury bug, too, but we've had guys come up and step up. They've had a lot of pitching guys going up and down. We're locked in and it doesn't matter who it is. We'll be ready to go."

"That's unique in the history of this rivalry," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. "I just think it's a stretch where we've had a few really good series against them. They've had some things not go their way, so I don't put a whole lot into it."

If it was just a rivalry problem, the Red Sox could shake it off and move on to their next opponent. But the current problems run much deeper.

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Boston, hurt by a thin pitching staff and an underachieving starting lineup, has lost eight in a row to fall to 6-17 on the season. Manager Ron Roenicke's team is 1-12 against the Yankees and Rays this season, and 5-5 against everyone else.

"A really good team we're playing," Roenicke said of the Yankees. "I know they've got a lot of guys out of their lineup. And it's like I said yesterday, you get guys out of there and [Thairo] Estrada goes in there and hits a homer. So it's like all of these guys they're putting in, they're really hurting us. And I know the big boys are out, but guys they're putting in the lineup are doing a great job for them and getting big hits."

A familiar formula unfolded on Monday as the Red Sox were down, 3-0, by the bottom of the second.

When the Sox showed signs of mounting a comeback in the top of the fourth on an RBI single by Vázquez, rain immediately began to pour. The game was delayed for an hour and 23 minutes, and whatever momentum Boston might have been building subsided.

"Yeah, it's kind of been going that way, as you guys know when you watch the games," Roenicke said. "And it's kind of like the [Alex] Verdugo thing [in the sixth inning]. I've never seen a ball bounce over the fence here before for a ground-rule double, and it cost us a run. There's just a lot of things going on. We still need to play better without a doubt, but hopefully when we start playing better we'll get a few breaks our way."

Due to the lengthy delay, Pérez went just three innings, giving up three runs on two hits and three walks.

Lefty reliever gave up homers in the first two innings after the delay, and the Yankees were comfortably in front for the rest of the night.

"I think the couple of homers that they hit tonight hurt us, but you know, we're just working to find a way," said Pérez. "We never quit. I've been in this situation before, and I think working together is the key and we're doing it."

Vázquez exits with sore heel
It was curious when Roenicke pulled Vázquez in favor of backup Kevin Plawecki in the bottom of the seventh with the Red Sox trailing by four runs. As it turns out, there was a good reason.

"His [right] heel is bothering him, like the plantar fasciitis," said Roenicke. "It bothered him before the game and was still bugging him there during the game, and we just made sure we don't get it to the point where he has to miss a lot of time."

Is there a chance Vazquez can start Tuesday night at Fenway against the Phillies?

"It was bothering me a couple days ago, but I hope it's nothing serious," Vázquez said. "Let's see how I feel tomorrow morning when I get to the ballpark and see what happens."