Sonny Gray stood there, a man depleted and defeated, looking like the only person not invited to this perpetual party that seems to be going on at Yankee Stadium and trying so hard to find answers to the questions he seems to ask himself over and over.
He doesn’t know why he can’t pitch here, or why the Red Sox dominate him, or why he can’t find the consistency that will be the key to his big-league future. His voice shook at times as he considered Saturday night’s start, an 11-0 loss to the Red Sox. He paused often.
“I feel like we’re the best team in baseball four out of five days and . . . and then I come out and do that,” he said. “It’s just, it just [expletive] . . . If I was out there [in the stands], I probably would have booed me harder.”
Gray went nose-to-nose with Red Sox ace Chris Sale — who struck out 11 in seven one-hit innings — and got only seven outs. He allowed a first-inning grand slam by Rafael Devers and gave up six earned runs, seven hits and two walks.
Aaron Boone said he still believes Gray can be a front-line starter and that the pitcher who thrived in Oakland can find his way in the big city, but the numbers are trending otherwise. He has an 8.25 ERA at Yankee Stadium this season and has allowed 12 runs in 5 1⁄3 innings in two 2018 starts against the Red Sox. “I’ve been bad against a lot of teams,” he said.
The Yankees did nothing against Sale (8-4, 2.41 ERA), and Devers went 5-for-5 with four RBIs. J.D. Martinez added three hits and three RBIs. The Red Sox outhit the Yankees 17-2.
Giancarlo Stanton singled in the first inning and Gleyber Torres singled in the ninth for the Yankees’ only hits. They didn’t get a runner in scoring position after the second inning. The Yankees were shut out for the fourth time in 18 games; before that, they hadn’t been shut out since Aug. 8, 2017.
“Chris Sale shut us down,” Boone said simply.
Said Torres, “I think it’s part of the game [the offensive struggles the last few weeks]. We’re human, for sure. Some days are good, some days bad. I think it’s part of baseball. We try to compete every day, and when we have opportunities, try to do the job and try to help the team.”
And though the Yankees are far from floundering — there was a feeling Saturday that if the regular season didn’t end on Sept. 30, these two teams could trade spots atop the AL East forever — it’s clear it’s going to take everything they have to keep pace with the Red Sox.
There are times, Boone said, when Gray seems to be cruising and a little glitch derails the entire performance. That’s what happened Saturday.
“I thought the stuff was coming out real good and crisp early,” Boone said, “then before you know it, he’s maybe 30-something pitches in and has to work really hard in the second inning.”
Gray secured the first two outs quickly before allowing an infield hit by Martinez. Mitch Moreland walked and Xander Bogaerts singled before Gray served up a hanging curveball to Devers, who blasted an opposite-field grand slam to leftfield.
Gray had two strikes on Martinez, Moreland and Devers before losing all three. He got ahead of Martinez and Devers 1-and-2. “That was just embarrassing for me,” he said. “I expect to come out and perform and make it fun, and just the way I’ve thrown the ball, I don’t think it’s been fun.”
He was asked if he is worried that the Yankees will lose patience with him. “Nah,” he said, voice low and cracking. “Nah.
That may be another hard question he doesn’t have the answer to.