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Yankees again do little offensively in third straight loss to Red Sox

The Yankees' Aaron Judge, center, watches from the

The Yankees' Aaron Judge, center, watches from the dugout during the ninth inning of a game against the Red Sox in Boston on Saturday. Credit: AP/Michael Dwyer

BOSTON  — There were no cracks in the even-keeled veneer that Aaron Boone has maintained throughout his first season as Yankees manager.

But a seldom-seen-and-heard sarcastic side did bleed through early Saturday night.

After a second straight mostly dreadful performance from his offense that led to a third straight loss to the AL East-leading Red Sox, this one a 4-1 defeat at Fenway Park, Boone was asked about the importance of Sunday night’s series finale.

“Really, really important,” Boone said, his voiced tinged with sarcasm. “Super-important.”

He paused and continued closer to his usual tone. 

“I mean, I’m a broken record. Tomorrow’s always important,” Boone said. “We’re wearing it right now from the Red Sox, we’re in a tough spot. Tomorrow’s really important. This is the big leagues. We’re a really good team, we have to right the ship, [so] tomorrow’s important. But if we had won five in a row, tomorrow’s [still] really important.”

The Yankees (68-41), of course, have not won five in a row. They’ve lost a season-high four straight to fall a season-high 8 ½ games behind the Red Sox (78-34), who have outscored them 23-9 in the series.

“It’s obviously a thought, it’s reality,” Giancarlo Stanton said of the hole the Yankees are in as the calendar starts to become an enemy. “We have to understand it, but you have to try and keep it simple. We lost today, we have to win tomorrow. We know what the deficit is, we know what’s at stake. We have a game we have to win tomorrow.” 

One night after Rick Porcello pitched a one-hitter against them, the Yankees saw Nathan Eovaldi, a former teammate, throw eight scoreless innings. 

They trailed 4-0 going into the ninth  before Stanton and Didi Gregorius hit consecutive two-out doubles against Craig Kimbrel to make it 4-1. Aaron Hicks and Gleyber Torres then walked to load the bases and bring Greg Bird to the plate as the go-ahead run. He got ahead 2-and-1 before flying to center to end it.

“With a guy like that, you’ve got to be aggressive, even if he’s walked a couple of guys,” Bird said. “That was my mindset.”

When the Yankees try to avoid the sweep Sunday night, Masahiro Tanaka — their best pitcher of late — will face David Price, whom the Yankees routinely pummel. Then again, the way the Yankees have produced offensively the past two games, and in general since Aaron Judge went on the disabled list, maybe it’s Price who should be confident.

Entering the ninth inning Saturday, the Yankees had gone 4-for-52 in the two games and had sent three more than the minimum number of batters to the plate because of three double plays  (through five innings Saturday, they were 2-for-41 and one over the minimum).

Since spring training, Boone has talked about “controlling the strike zone,” something he thinks his team hasn’t done as well lately.

“You have to strike that balance between going up there on the hunt, being aggressive early in the count looking to do damage, but being able to shut down on balls,” Boone said. “That’s ultimately one of the biggest challenges you have as a hitter.”

Chance Adams, a 23-year-old righty who at one point was considered a top-three pitching prospect for the Yankees, gave them an opportunity to win his first big-league start. He allowed three runs and three hits in five innings, including Mitch Moreland's two-run homer in the first and J.D. Martinez 33rd home run in the fourth, a solo shot that made it 3-0.

But his outing became  a side note.

“We absolutely have to find a way,” Boone said. “We’re an elite group. We have a couple key pieces out [Judge and Gary Sanchez], but we’ve got to do a better job. You definitely tip your cap to Porcello and Eovaldi, but we have to find a way too.”

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