BOSTON – By the end of this three-game set at Fenway Park, it was hard to believe that the Yankees were the team easily ahead of the AL East and the Red Sox in the basement.
The Yankees’ poor play began with back-to-back losses at home to the Mariners and continued with a road trip in which they lost seven of nine, including Sunday night’s 3-0 loss in front of another sellout crowd in a crisp 2 hours, 15 minutes.
It was the third time the Yankees have been shut out on the trip and they have lost nine of 11 when they return home to the Bronx to face the Rays and Blue Jays this week, more than 10 games ahead of second-place Toronto in the division. .
“It wasn’t our best road trip,” said DJ LeMahieu, who missed the final with a sore right big toe. “We are all frustrated. We know how good a team we are, we just didn’t play like that.”
They’ve scored eight runs over their last five games — four of them losses — while dealing with injuries to LeMahieu, Giancarlo Stanton (Achilles) and Matt Carpenter (foot).
On Sunday, they were outplayed by Michael Wacha.
In his first game back from the injured list following right shoulder inflammation after more than a month on the injured list, the right-hander retired the first 14 batters he faced until Miguel Andujar with two outs in the fifth.
With Isiah Kiner-Falefa at the plate, Andujar swung at second before Kiner-Falefa walked.
Kyle Higashioka followed with a hard grounder to third, where Rafael Devers made a nice play to end the threat.
And that’s about all the Yankees could get away from Wacha, who gave up just a pair of singles and held the Yankees to one earned run in 23 innings over his last four starts against them dating back to last season.
“He kind of mowed through us,” manager Aaron Boone said.
It didn’t give Jameson Taillon much of a chance.
The right-hander allowed three runs in seven innings, but put the Yankees in a hole in the first inning.
Taillon gave up a leadoff double to Tommy Pham, who moved to third on a groundout by Devers and scored on a groundout to shortstop Xander Bogaerts to give the Red Sox a 1-0 lead.
After the Yankees wasted a pair of baserunners in the fifth, Andrew Benintendi collected his second hit of the night with a single to left, but Aaron Judge and Josh Donaldson struck out.
Pham led off the bottom of the sixth with a single to right and Devers then took Taillon deep to make it 3-0.
Devers has 19 career home runs against the Yankees, his most against any single opponent.
After Wacha exited, Ryan Brasier pitched a scoreless eighth before Garrett Whitlock ended it in the ninth.
“We obviously didn’t play the way we want to, but we put ourselves in a nice position at this point in the season,” Taillon said of their sizable division lead. “We have people here to do [turn it around]. It will be nice to go home after a hard road trip.”
Those were words rarely heard during the first half of the season, when the Yankees appeared to be cruising to the best record in the American League.
“It’s baseball,” Judge said. “You will go through such stresses. Every team does. We are not happy about it… [but] we are in first place. If you asked me at the beginning of the year if we’d like a 10-game lead in mid-August, we’d like that. We have to take and it begins [Monday]. We still have a good ball club here.”
Boone agreed that they could get back to where they were earlier in the season.
“We’re going to get guys back and we’ve got everything we need,” the manager said.