BOSTON — Compared to the way the night unfolded sending J.A. Happ to the DL and dispatching Sonny Gray to the bullpen before the sun set qualified as good news.
In the first of four crucial games against the Red Sox on Thursday night at Fenway Park the Yankees were overmatched on the way to an embarrassing 15-7 loss that was witnessed by 37,317 who were treated to a three-homer game by Steve Pearce.
The Yankees flushed an early 4-0 lead, watched CC Sabathia issue four walks in three innings, Jonathan Holder give up seven runs without registering an out and botch a rundown play in an eight-run Boston fourth inning.
Looking for that streak of sunshine in a hurricane? Try Didi Gregorius homering twice. His first supplied Sabathia with a 3-0 lead before the lefty took the mound. Aaron Hicks’ homer in the second extended the lead to 4-0. Giancarlo Stanton hit his 25th homer in the seventh that cut the deficit to 14-6.
The 15 runs given up by Yankees pitchers was a season high. The previous high was the 14 scored by the Red Sox on April 10 at Fenway.
Holder entered in the fourth after Sabathia threw 77 pitches in three-plus innings and took a ball off his lower body in the bloody fourth. In three-plus innings Sabathia gave up two runs and three hits to go with the four walks. Going into the game Sabathia was 6-0 with a 1.83 ERA in his last seven starts against the Red Sox.
The Yankees’ second straight loss dropped them 6 ½ games behind the AL East-leading Red Sox. It is the Yankees’ largest deficit since April 21 when they were the same distance back.
Pearce, who was a Yankee for 12 games in 2012, homered in the third, fourth and six innings and drove in six runs. Mookie Betts went 4-for-4 and walked twice.
Lefty Brian Johnson, subbing for Chris Sale, got the win despite giving up five runs (four earned) and six hits in five innings. He did strike out 11.
In easily his worst outing of the season Holder gave up seven runs and five hits without getting an out. Chad Green followed Holder and gave up a run and three hits in two-thirds of an inning. Luis Cessa, who was a candidate to take Happ’s start on Saturday, entered in the fourth and was replaced by Zach Britton to start the eighth. Cessa threw 3 ²/₃ innings, enough to remove him from Saturday’s start.
The beating continued in the fifth when Ian Kinsler doubled in J.D. Martinez and in the sixth when Andrew Benintendi doubled home Betts and Pearce’s third homer scored Benintendi to make it 14-5.
Sabathia was replaced by Holder after three laborious innings and a 4-2 lead that quickly vanished.
Holder walked No. 9 hitter Jackie Bradley Jr. starting the fourth and gave up a double to Betts.
Holder botched a rundown play after fielding Benintendi’s grounder. Instead of running at Bradley or throwing home, Holder threw to third baseman Miguel Andujar with Bradley halfway home. Bradley beat Andujar’s throw. Pearce followed with his second homer of the night, and after Martinez’s double Kinsler dropped a single into right that scored Martinez. Eduardo Nunez doubled to left and scored Kinsler, Bradley’s double to left-center plated Nunez and Benintendi’s single to left scored Bradley for a 10-4 Red Sox cushion.
Chad Green replaced Holder and gave up an RBI double to Bradley that upped the Red Sox advantage to 9-4. Betts’ single to left was too hard to score Bradley.
Pearce started the home third with a towering home run over the Green Monster that shaved the Yankees’ lead to 4-2. It didn’t get easier for Sabathia after the blast, but he didn’t give up another run despite walking a batter and making a throwing error. With runners on second and third and two outs Sabathia retired Brock Holt on a stress-free fly ball to right.
Sabathia’s first two innings were rocky and consisted of three walks and the Red Sox scoring one run in the second that cut the Yankees’ lead to 4-1.
After walking Betts to open the home first with a 3-0 advantage, Sabathia retired the next three hitters. Things didn’t go as well in the second when the Red Sox sent seven batters to the plate and scored on Betts’ two-out, RBI walk. Sabathia stranded three by watching Benintendi chase left fielder Brett Gardner to the warning track.
Red Sox lefty Johnson struck out three in the second inning but the final whiff came after Hicks homered over the right-field fence for a 4-0 lead. It was Hicks’ 18th homer of the season.
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