Yankees’ bullpen implodes, allows nine runs in the seventh and eighth innings in loss to Red Sox

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Last night, Mariano Rivera surrendered a game-tying RBI single to Stephen Drew with two outs in the ninth. Joba Chamberlain then allowed what became a game-winning RBI single to Shane Victorino in the tenth. Tonight, it seemed like a real team effort as four Yankees relievers combined to allow nine runs in the eighth and ninth innings as the Red Sox went on to win 12-8.

Phil Hughes started off the bullpen meltdown by allowing an RBI infield single to Dustin Pedroia in the seventh. Joe Girardi came out to replace Hughes with lefty Boone Logan for the platoon advantage against David Ortiz. Ortiz struck out, but Girardi left Logan in to face Mike Napoli. While Napoli doesn’t have much of a platoon split over his career, Logan does. Thus, it was no surprise when Napoli drove a fly ball to deep right field for a grand slam. In Logan’s defense, Napoli’s fly ball is a catchable out in 29 other ballparks, but that is no excuse. Preston Claiborne later came on and ended the inning with no further damage.

Claiborne, a 25-year-old rookie, remained in the game to start the eighth with the game still tied at eight apiece. After David Ross struck out, Will Middlebrooks singled to left to bring up Shane Victorino. Victorino, who recently changed from switch-hitting to hitting right-handed full-time, drove Claiborne’s 85 MPH slider into the seats in left field to break the tie and put the Sox up 10-8. They weren’t done. Mike Carp singled, which brought Girardi out again, this time to bring in Joba Chamberlain. The embattled former top prospect quickly got the second out of the inning, but things quickly got out of hand. He intentionally walked Ortiz, unintentionally walked Napoli, walked Nava with the bases loaded to force in a run, and allowed an RBI single to Drew, boosting the Red Sox lead to 12-8. All told, Hughes, Logan, Claiborne, and Chamberlain combined to allow nine runs on eight hits and four walks while recording just six outs.

Red Sox closer Koji Uehara pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to finalize the 12-8 victory, lowering his ERA to 1.12 in the process. With the Rays in progress, the Red Sox temporarily move to seven games ahead in first place in the AL East.

Will Middlebrooks carted off field with injury

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Phillies third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffered a serious injury during Saturday’s Grapefruit League contest against the Orioles. The infielder was chasing down a pop fly in the eighth inning when he ran into left fielder Andrew Pullin, who inadvertently trapped Middlebrooks’ ankle under his leg. Middlebrooks was unable to put weight on his leg following the collision and was carted off the field and taken to a local hospital for X-rays.

Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, not much is known yet about the severity of the ankle injury or the recovery time it will require, though it appears serious enough to set Middlebrooks back considerably as he seeks a backup/bench role with the team this spring.

The 29-year-old is currently seeking another opportunity to extend his six-year major-league career in 2018. He’s coming off of two down years with the Brewers and Rangers, during which he slashed a cumulative .169/.229/.262 with four extra bases through 70 plate appearances.