BOSTON — The Yankees' clubhouse was a sobering scene following a 5-4 loss to the Red Sox in Game 1 of the ALDS at Fenway Park on Friday night.
There was no hiding the obvious: the Yankees allowed a golden opportunity to slip away in the series opener.
Outfielder Giancarlo Stanton finished the night with one hit and four strikeouts, including a costly whiff on an 86 mph curveball from Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes with no outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh.
“I wasn’t able to get it done,” said Stanton. “I should have put the ball in play.”
Despite falling into an early hole, trailing 5-0 after three innings, the Yankees successfully worked the pitch count on Sox ace Chris Sale, who was pulled with only one out in the sixth inning. Boston manager Alex Cora then looked to a motley crew of relievers in Ryan Brasier, Brandon Workman, and Matt Barnes to serve as a bridge to the eighth inning.
“Any time one of the best pitchers in the game comes out of the game, that’s always a relief,” said Aaron Judge, who finished three-for-five and hit a solo homer in the ninth off Craig Kimbrel to get the Yanks within a run. “Getting them to use that bullpen is a good thing.”
The Yankees put men on, loading the bases in both the sixth and seventh innings but could not produce runs, finishing the night a paltry one-for-seven with runners in scoring position.
“We just weren’t able to capitalize in certain situations with runners on base,” said Judge. “It’s frustrating, but we have to build off of that and get ready for tomorrow.
“If only we could play 10 or 11 innings. We’ve just got build off our quality at-bats and get ready for tomorrow.”
The missed opportunity was particularly galling for the Yankees considering that David Price is pitching for the Sox in Game 2. Price is winless in nine playoff starts, and a win in the series opener would have put the Yankees in an advantageous spot facing the lefthander.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s [Price] out there or Sale out there or whoever it is, we’re trying to put together good at-bats, go up there with a plan, and try to execute,” said Brett Gardner, who replaced an injured Aaron Hicks in the fourth inning and went 0-for-2 with a walk. “We’re trying to knock him out of the game as soon as possible. It doesn’t matter if he’s been throwing the ball well or if he’s been struggling.”
Dating back to October 2004, the win by the Red Sox marked their fifth playoff victory in a row over the Yankees, a streak New York will look to halt in Game 2 on Saturday night.
“We go into every game as a must-win,” said Stanton. “That’s the mentality, and that’s how we’ll go in tomorrow.”