Bullpen struggles, Bogaerts exits early as Yankees beat Red Sox in opener

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The Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees needed extra baseball to decide Friday's Opening Day game at Yankee Stadium, and the home team emerged victorious.

The Yankees trailed 3-0, 4-3 and 5-4 and still managed to earn a 6-5 win in 11 innings. 

Josh Donaldson's walkoff single in the 11th was the difference in the first of 19 meetings between these rivals this season. The series continues this weekend at 4:05 p.m. on Saturday and 7 p.m. on Sunday.

Here are three takeaways from Boston's first loss of 2022.

Devers/Bogaerts (and middle of the order) shine

The Red Sox were unable to work out contract extensions with two of their best players -- shortstop Xander Bogaerts and third baseman Rafael Devers -- before Opening Day, and now they risk the price going up if these two guys have excellent seasons.

They're off to a great start, too.

Devers got the scoring started by blasting a two-run homer into the second deck of the right field seats on his first swing. 

Devers finished 1-for-4 with one run and two RBI. Bogaerts went 3-for-5 with two runs scored and one RBI. The middle of the Red Sox lineup -- Devers, Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez and Alex Verdugo -- combined for seven hits, five RBI and three runs scored. 

Boston's lineup is absolutely loaded, and the four guys mentioned above will be responsible for shouldering most of the offensive burden. So far, so good for the Red Sox in that regard.

One thing to keep an eye on is Bogaerts' status for the rest of the series. He appeared to be walking slowly after the 10th inning and left the game with an apparent injury. Red Sox manager Alex Cora told reporters after the game (via NESN's broadcast) that Bogaerts' right hamstring felt tight and the team will know more about his condition later on Friday.

Concerns over Red Sox bullpen were justified

The Red Sox bullpen is very much a work in progress, and that painfully evident in the Bronx.

Garrett Whitlock pitched 2 1/3 innings and was excellent until giving up the tying homer to D.J. LeMahieu in the bottom of the eighth inning. Matt Strahm came in and finished the eighth inning without issue. Hansel Robles pitched the ninth and gave up a walk and a double, but he got out of trouble with a strikeout of Giancarlo Stanton to end the frame.

Newly acquired reliever Jake Diekman started the 10th inning with the Red Sox up 5-4 but only recorded one out before exiting. Ryan Brasier replaced him and allowed the tying run on a sac fly, but he did escape the inning without further damage.

Kutter Crawford entered to pitch the 11th inning and gave up the game-winning RBI single to Josh Donaldson. It was Crawford's second career major league appearance.

Overall, Boston's bullpen blew two saves and gave up three runs, four hits and three walks over five innings of work. The six relievers used combined for eight strikeouts, half of which came from Whitlock.

We didn't even see Matt Barnes, who was the team's closer for most of last season. Cora said Barnes was unavailable to pitch Friday because of a tight back.

The fact that Cora had to use Whitlock for three innings when every arm in the bullpen was fresh also is not encouraging for the Sox. There's not enough quality depth in Boston's bullpen, and in a division where the Yankees, Blue Jays and Rays all have impressive lineups, that doesn't bode well for the Red Sox.

It was already obvious that Chaim Bloom and the Red Sox front office needed to upgrade the bullpen. That might have to happen even sooner than expected.

Gerrit Cole struggles again vs. Sox

Cole didn't last very long in his first outing of 2022. The Yankees ace gave up three runs in the first inning. He walked Kike Hernandez on four pitches to begin the game, then gave up a two-run homer to Devers. Bogaerts singled and was driven in by a Martinez double before Cole finally got out of the inning.

Cole settled in after that but exited after just four innings. He finished with three strikeouts and one walk, while giving up four hits and three earned runs on 68 pitches. 

The veteran right-hander struggled against the Red Sox last season. He posted a 2-2 record with a 4.91 ERA, nine walks, five homers allowed and a .279 batting average against over 22 innings. Cole also was subpar in the AL Wild Card Game at Fenway Park. He gave up four hits and three runs over two innings as the Red Sox eliminated the Yankees from the postseason.

The Yankees owe Cole $36 million per year through 2028. He needs to perform at a much higher level against the rival Red Sox to earn that kind of money.

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