NEW YORK – For the first 18 games, the Red Sox bullpen had escaped relatively unscathed from the carnage of the Red Sox’ 2019 season.
As of Wednesday night, they seized the controls and became certified members of the self-wrecking crew.
The seventh-inning grand slam allowed by Ryan Brasier, after Brandon Workman loaded the bases on two walks and a single, turned a 3-1 deficit into a 5-3 loss that sent the 6-13 reeling in a different direction after a dozen other losses that could be attributed to abysmal starting pitching or stagnant hitting or shoddy defense or some combination.
The Workman-Brasier duo ruined a splendid start from Nathan Eovaldi (six innings, one unearned run, six strikeouts, three hits), by far the best of his four starts this season.
The Red Sox jumped out to the early 1-0 lead, with J.D. Martinez hitting a home run, No. 4 on the season, on the first pitch he saw from Happ.
They expanded the lead to 3-0 in the second, when Christian Vazquez hit his third home run of the season, this one to his opposite-field, in short right field at Yankee Sadium.
Eovaldi showed flashes of his dominant stretches from last year, as he repeatedly kept the Yankees at bay. He stranded a base-runner in each of the first two innings and did not allow any in the third.
The fourth was a challenge. It began with a walk, and then fill-in second baseman Eduardo Nunez was charged with an error when he could not hold onto a feed at second base from third baseman Rafael Devers on a groundball. That put two base-runners on, at first and second, with no outs. Eovaldi bore down. He struck out DJ LeMahieu looking, but then Clint Frazier laced an RBI double into left field. With runners at second and third and just one out, Eovaldi struck out Mike Tauchman. Eovaldi pumped his fist after the out.
Then, Gio Irshela hit a groundball that appeared headed to right field and would have knocked in at least one run if not for first baseman Steve Pearce making a flat-out dive to his right to snag Irshela’s ball cleanly. Eovaldi sprinted to first and was able to glove the feed from Pearce in time for the third out and minimizing the damage to just one run.
It came a little late considering he had already given up three runs, but Happ settled into his own groove after the second inning. He allowed just two hits, both singles, and a walk over the next four innings. When the seventh inning came, and he allowed an infield single with one out and the Yankees trailing by two runs, manager Aaron Boone turned to his bullpen. Tommy Kahnle came in and retired both Vazquez and Jackie Bradley Jr. to keep the score at 3-1.
Happ allowed the three runs and six hits in his 6-1/3 innings.
Eovaldi threw 104 pitches in his six innings, allowing three hits and one run, which was unearned.