BOSTON — This one hurt.
The Yankees had it all set up for a signature 2016 win Friday night at Fenway Park when Masahiro Tanaka had a two-run lead with two outs in the seventh inning. Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller loomed. One more out was all Tanaka needed to get the game to the dynamic duo.
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But Jackie Bradley Jr. lashed a tying two-run double off the Green Monster to electrify the crowd and end Tanaka’s night.
Even more shocking: Betances gave up a two-run home run to David Ortiz in the eighth, and the Red Sox went on to a 4-2 victory to drop the last-place Yankees to 8-13.
“Tonight especially hurts,” said Alex Rodriguez, who hit his 691st homer in the second.
The Yankees’ offensive woes continued as they managed only six hits, including A-Rod’s home run off a Green Monster light tower and an RBI single by Brett Gardner in the fifth to give Tanaka a 2-0 lead.
Red Sox pitchers retired the final 13 Yankees batters. It was the 16th time in 21 games that the Yankees had scored three or fewer runs (they’ve gone 3-13 in those games) and the 11th time they had scored two or fewer runs (0-11). They have scored three or fewer runs in 14 of the last 16 games.
The Yankees entered the game with 15 hits in their last 119 at-bats with runners in scoring position. So of course the baseball gods made sure they had a runner in scoring position two batters into the game against lefthander Henry Owens when Jacoby Ellsbury walked and Gardner beat out a bunt single.
However, the Yankees were not ready to overcome their RISP woes just yet. Carlos Beltran grounded into a double play and Mark Teixeira flied to left.
Rodriguez led off the second with his fourth home run of the season and fifth hit in five consecutive at-bats for a 1-0 lead.
One out later, Starlin Castro tripled (Bradley misplayed what should have been a single to center) to give the Yankees another chance with runners in scoring position. But Chase Headley hit a fly ball to medium left and Brock Holt gunned down Castro at the plate to make the Yankees 0-for-3 with RISP.
Finally, finally, the Yankees got their first hit in those situations in the fifth when Gardner grounded a two-out RBI single to right for a 2-0 lead. That would seem to be enough if Tanaka could get the ball to Betances and then Miller.
Unfortunately for the Yankees, Tanaka held the lead for only 6 2⁄3 innings. The Red Sox rallied on one-out singles by Travis Shaw and Holt and Bradley’s opposite-field double.
Joe Girardi had Betances and Chasen Shreve warming but chose to let Tanaka face Bradley because he had been pitching so well to that point. Bradley was 1-for-13 against Tanaka to that point, too.
“He had done a good job,” Girardi said. “He’s done a good job throughout on Bradley. His split had been really good tonight. He threw a split there that didn’t do much and he hit it off the wall.’’
Said Tanaka: “It’s that last out that I needed to get. That’s on me.”
After Bradley tied it, Betances retired Mookie Betts on a fly ball to center to end the inning before giving up a one-out single to Xander Bogaerts and the first-pitch clout by Ortiz over the Monster in the fateful eighth. Before that at-bat, Ortiz was 0-for-7 with four strikeouts against Betances.
Said Rodriguez, “It’s good to know Dellin’s human.”
The Yankees didn’t win the game, but A-Rod won the odd quote of the night award with that one. There was nothing good about the final 2½ innings for the Yankees and nothing good about the outcome.