The New York Yankees came into Thursday night's series opener against the Boston Red Sox in Fenway having won four in a row and nine of their last 12. They'd enjoyed such fortunes despite having the active roster heavily compromised by a recent COVID-19 cluster.
A win against Boston on Thursday would've pushed the third-place Yanks to seven games over .500 for the first time since May 28 and cut the Sox's lead to six games. For a time, it looked like they would get it. They led 3-1 with one out and no one on in the bottom of the ninth behind starter Jordan Montgomery's 5 ⅔ scoreless and Gleyber Torres' two RBI. However, Chad Green then allowed back-to-back singles, and then Enrique Hernandez came through with a clutch two-out double to tie the game:
At the time Hernandez hit his two-bagger, the Red Sox had just 9.9 percent chance of winning the game.
In the top of the 10th, the Yankees plated the automatic runner on a Brett Gardner sac fly but weren't able to add to their lead. In the home half, the short-handed Yankees turned to right-hander Brooks Kriske, making just his seventh MLB appearance, for the save opportunity with the runner on second. Here's how his high-leverage frame went:
- Wild pitch
- Wild pitch, run scores
- Wild pitch
- Wild pitch
- Sac fly, game-winning run scores
Of Kriske's 12 pitches, just six went for strikes. Here's one of those strikes:
Yes, the Red Sox picked up the 5-4 walk-off win despite not getting a hit in the final frame. As for Kriske, he made unfortunate history with his outing:
The Yankees' Brooks Kriske is the first pitcher in MLB history to throw 4+ wild pitches in a single extra inning.— Stats By STATS (@StatsBySTATS) July 23, 2021
And in related matters:
Following tonight’s game, the Yankees optioned RHP Brooks Kriske to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.— Yankees PR Dept. (@YankeesPR) July 23, 2021
That's the fourth time this season the Yankees have lost despite leading after eight innings, which is the most in MLB. The loss means the Yankees start a key stretch with a crushing loss. They'll play three more against Boston before playing a three-game road set against the Rays. How they fare over the remainder of those games may determine how GM Brian Cashman approaches the July 30 trade deadline.
Across the way, it's a key win for the Red Sox, who were able to maintain a one-game lead over the newly fortified Rays in the AL East. The Red Sox are now 8-2 against the Yankees this season with three games remaining in this series.