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BOSTON — In a sense, the Yankees looked like a new and improved baseball club Friday night at Fenway Park, compared to the imploding mess that got swept by the Red Sox earlier this month in The Bronx.
That and $153 million, nearly eight years ago, would have landed you Jacoby Ellsbury, who emerged from the shadows here Friday, wearing his Bosox jersey, to salute his retiring pal Dustin Pedroia.
No, despite a sleeker sheen, the Yankees lost their fourth straight 2021 matchup with the Sawx, 5-3, because a quartet of decisions — two Friday, two last offseason — bit them. You can’t whiff on too many little things and expect to thrive in this American League East, where the Yankees now reside five games behind the leading Rays and 4 ½ behind the Bosox.
With a delighted full house of 36,869 on site, the visitors showed off their upgraded offense in the second inning, immediately counterpunching in the wake of Boston’s three-run first off Domingo German on a trio of two-out runs. The Yankees seemed to send a message to their rivals: We’re no pushovers anymore.
That turned out to be the evening’s pinstriped highlight. While the Yankees received four shutout innings of relief from four relievers — the third of whom, Zack Britton, walked off suddenly with an injury — they lost because …
“I was too quick there on that play,” German said through an interpreter. “I fumbled the ball and then also I didn’t want to make a bad throw to [first baseman Luke Voit].”
Said manager Aaron Boone: “That’s an area of Domingo’s game that we’ve got to continue to work hard at and get better.”
“We’ve probably got to hold him up there,” Boone acknowledged, before defending his hand-picked coach: “Phil’s as good as it gets there over at third base. … There’s no one I’d want over there coaching third [more] than Phil.”
“Maybe not that inning,” Nevin countered with a laugh. While he said he thought Renfroe wouldn’t even throw home based on his approach to the ball, Nevin added: “That one’s on me. I whiffed that. … Even if you think you see something or not, you’ve got to err on the side of caution with nobody out and I certainly didn’t. … I’ll be thinking about that all night for sure.”
“We’ve got a big one tomorrow,” Boone said of Saturday night’s game, and a big victory will start with cutting out the little mistakes — or changing past calls from mistakes to winners.
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