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BOSTON — So far this season, the Yankees are not ready for prime time.
While they’ve won their share of games and series against mediocre teams like the Royals — and even good ones like the Athletics — when it comes to the Red Sox and Rays, the Yankees have been at a loss.
The trend continued in Friday’s 5-3 loss to the Red Sox at Fenway Park, their fourth defeat in four meetings with their rivals this season. They’re also just 5-8 versus Tampa Bay.
In front of a sellout crowd of 36,869, Domingo German had his third subpar outing in a row for the Yankees, allowing four runs — three earned — in four innings.
After pitching well against Boston on June 6, he has given up 15 runs — 14 earned — in just 12 ¹/₃ innings in his past three starts. And he hasn’t gotten through five innings in any of them.
Zack Britton also was forced from the game with an apparent leg injury in the bottom of the eighth. He walked off the field immediately after a 2-2 pitch to Hunter Renfroe. He just returned after missing the start of the season following spring training elbow surgery.
German barely made it through the first inning Friday.
He gave up back-to-back singles to Michael Chavis and Alex Verdugo to start the game before Xander Bogaerts hit a two-run double with one out. Renfroe added an RBI double later in the inning to make it 3-0, which led to the Yankees to send Luis Cessa out to the bullpen to start warming up.
German finally escaped the inning after 31 pitches.
The Yankees tied it in the second, loading the bases against left-hander Martin Perez with a leadoff walk to Giancarlo Stanton, a single by Luke Voit and a Gio Urshela grounder that was booted by Bogaerts at short.
With two out, Clint Frazier worked a walk to force in the first run and DJ LeMahieu came through with a flare single to right to score Voit and Urshela to make it 3-3.
The Yankees were in position to take the lead in the third with two on and one out before the struggling Gleyber Torres grounded into a double play.
German got into more trouble in the bottom of the inning. He walked J.D. Martinez and then threw a wild pitch to move Martinez to second.
With one out, Rafael Devers hit a slow comebacker that German booted for an error, putting runners on the corners.
Renfroe hit a sacrifice fly to drive in Martinez, and the unearned run put the Red Sox up, 4-3.
The Yankees were in prime position to tie the game again in the fourth when Urshela led off with a double and Miguel Andujar singled to right, but third base coach Phil Nevin ill-advisedly sent Urshela, who was thrown out at the plate. The Yankees didn’t score in the inning.
Lucas Luetge threw 1 ²/₃ scoreless innings, helped by Jonathan Loaisiga, who got Marwin Gonzalez to fly to center to end the sixth after Luetge walked a pair.
But the Yankees offense, following the three runs in the second, was shut down after Perez left.
Hirokazu Sawamura tossed 1 ¹/₃ scoreless innings before Garrett Whitlock — whom the Red Sox plucked from the Yankees in last year’s Rule 5 draft — tossed a pair of scoreless innings.
To make matters worse, Adam Ottavino — a huge disappointment in his two years in The Bronx — retired the side in order in the eighth.
Britton entered in the bottom of the eighth and got hurt in just his fifth appearance since coming off the IL. He was replaced by Cessa.
Renfroe ended up walking, moved to second on a groundout and scored on Christian Vazquez’s single to right.
The Yankees failed to rally in the ninth.
Urshela led off the ninth against Matt Barnes with an infield single. Andujar, with a full count, singled to left and was replaced by pinch-runner Tyler Wade. Frazier struck out.
After Brett Gardner replaced Urshela at second, LeMahieu grounded into a double play to end it.
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