BOSTON — Luis Severino was strafed for three runs and dispensed 33 pitches in the first inning and was still around in the bottom of the sixth.
This is what the Yankees are reduced to now — moral victories. Because actual victories are going to be downright difficult to produce this weekend at Fenway Park.
So Aaron Boone talked about how proud he was of Severino’s competitiveness to right himself and register 17 outs when the Yankees did not have a long man available to save their ace and with Chance Adams set to make his major league debut Saturday in the most hostile environment and against the majors’ highest-scoring club. In other words, Adams will need all the relief not used by Severino.
Austin Romine said of Severino: “Other than the [home run, a two-run shot by Steve Pearce in the first], I thought this was his best outing of the last three or four.” But by those old baseball rules, that two-run homer actually counted.
And, yeah, Rick Porcello held the Yankees to one hit, but Boone mentioned the Yankees had “a lot of good at-bats against” the righty. Of the five hardest-hit balls in Friday night’s game, the Yankees had four — so they won in top-end exit velocity 4-1.
But, you know, the Red Sox won the game 4-1, which tends to count for a lot more.
Looking for more moral victories?
The last time a starter threw a complete-game one-hitter against the Yankees was Doc Halladay on Sept. 4, 2009. The last time it was by a Red Sox pitcher was the best game I ever saw pitched in person, Pedro Martinez’s 17-strikeout gem Sept. 10, 1999, when the lone hit was a homer (Chili Davis), just as it was off Porcello (Miguel Andujar).
Oh, you want the moral victory — the Yanks won the championship anyway in both of those years.
To do that this season, though, is going to take a lot more actual victories. Boston leads the division by 7 ¹/₂ games, having won 21-of-26 overall. The Red Sox are on pace for 112 wins.
The Yanks are still on pace for 102 wins, but they have not looked like that club the past three games — a loss at home to Baltimore and two at Fenway. Right now, the Yanks do not belong in the same weight class as the Red Sox, who are having one of those seasons tinged by deep talent and inexplicable baseball magic.
But the Red Sox, who have outscored the Yanks 46-22 at Fenway this year, disappear from the Yankees’ life after this weekend until Sept. 18. For the rest of August, in particular, the Yanks have a schedule laced with patsies. The only above-.500 team left on their slate this month is the Rays, who play three in The Bronx.
The Yanks have managed just a 12-12 record against Tampa and the worst-in-the-majors Orioles, whom the Yanks get for four games at Camden Yards from Aug. 24-26.
But either the Yanks rouse from this down period and flex their muscles against also-rans, or forget about the AL East, they may not even deserve to hold onto a wild-card spot.
Boone, who tends to hyper-focus on the immediate game in front of the Yankees, acknowledged about the AL East: “I know we are not in the best situation.” But he insisted, “We are still in position to have a special season.” He called what the Yankees are enduring a “test” and stressed he likes the resolve of his team.
“I know it will turn around,” Boone said. “We have to keep grinding through the tough times.”
They did that once this year, weathering iffy play and a 9-9 start that also left the Yanks with a 7 ¹/₂-game deficit to Boston. Nineteen days later, they were alone in first place.
So maybe they can pivot that positively again. Maybe Adams surprises with a strong debut and the Yankees beat up their favorite piñata, David Price, on Sunday night and they roar through an August schedule laced with the White Sox, Rangers, Marlins, Tigers and even a one-game appearance by the Mets. Perhaps along the way they get back J.A. Happ and Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez and have the full appearance of a team that belongs in a conversation and the division race with the Red Sox.
This is what the Yankees have right now at a low point in their season when they do not seem to belong on the same field with the rampaging Red Sox — hopes, dreams and a few moral victories.
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