NEW YORK — Chris Sale threw an 0-2 fastball at the letters past Gio Urshela in the fourth inning and didn’t get the call. He raised both arms as if to say, “What’s wrong?” and muttered at plate umpire Mike Estabrook. Sale’s outing in a doubleheader opener spun out of control from there, just like Boston’s season.
Boston was swept 9-2 and 6-4 by New York on Saturday and fell 13½ games behind the AL East-leading Yankees and 5½ games back of second-place Tampa Bay. The Red Sox are 59-54, with as many losses as their 2018 World Series champions (108-54).
“It seems like it has flip-flopped from last year, where they are at right now, where we are right now,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said.
Boston held a players-only meeting between games.
“Everybody’s frustrated,” reigning AL MVP Mookie Betts said. “Not every year is going to be like last year. We have to just figure out a way.”
DJ LeMahieu homered twice in the day game and Gleyber Torres twice at night as New York moved a season-high 32 games over .500 at 71-39 and improved to 4-0-1 in doubleheaders this year with its first twinbill sweep of the Red Sox since August 2006.
Domingo German (14-2) won the day game and the Yankees then improved to 9-0 when using Chad Green as an opener, beating the Red Sox for the 10th time in 14 meetings.
New York slugger Edwin Encarnacion broke his right wrist when hit by a pitch from Josh Smith in the eighth inning of the opener and estimated he will miss three-to-five weeks. Outfielder Aaron Hicks hurt his elbow on a sixth-inning throw in the second game and is to have an MRI on Sunday.
Sale and Cora were ejected during a seven-run fourth inning by Estabrook, livid over his strike zone. Sale nearly hit Urshela with his 1-2 pitch and wound up giving up hits to six of his next seven batters, including LeMahieu’s second home run of the game.
“I felt like he kind of changed the landscape of the game. There’s got to be something that can be done about this,” Sale said. “It’s a little tough when at this level you give those guys in those situations extra strikes and extra outs. Yeah, I’ve got to do a little bit better job of locking it in and getting my job done, not worrying about what’s going on back there with him, but nonetheless it’s tough.”
Sale and Cora both screamed as they walked off.
Sale (5-11) tied his career high by allowing eight earned runs in 3 2/3 innings and fell to 0-4 with a 9.90 ERA against the Yankees this season. He was 29-12 with a 2.56 ERA for the Red Sox when he signed a $160 million, six-year contract in March but has a 4.68 ERA since.
New York took a 2-1 lead on four singles, the last by No. 8 hitter Breyvic Valera. Cora, not pitching coach Dana LeVangie, went to the mound with the intent of getting tossed by Estabrook.
“It was only one purpose. I wasn’t talking about mechanics or anything,” Cora said. “Just let me know when he’s coming, and I’m going to let him know how I feel.”
What did Cora say?
“You see all this traffic here? One pitch changed the whole inning,” the manager recalled as the PG-rated version.
Cora pointed nearly two dozen times at various Yankees runners and the plate as he returned to the dugout.
“They’re human. They miss calls,” Cora said. “And sometimes we bark at them and then we look at video. It’s like, oh, he was right.”
Brett Gardner hit a two-run single as an agitated Sale forgot to back up the plate, and LeMahieu lined a changeup into the first row of the right-field seats for a three-run homer.
Aaron Judge followed with a double, and when bench coach Ron Roenicke went to the mound to change pitchers, Sale shouted at Estabrook from a distance and also was ejected.
Among his grievances, Sale cited a 2-2 fastball to Judge (“it was almost down the middle”), a called third strike against J.D. Martinez that ended the top of the first (“just God awful”), a 3-1 pitch from German to Xander Bogaerts in the fourth (“not even close”) and a called third strike in the fifth that caused Betts to squawk (“and Mookie doesn’t say anything to anybody”).
“Nothing’s going to happen to him, I’m sure,” Sale said in a subdued voice, hands in the pockets of his red shorts. “I’m sure I’ll get fined. I’m sure A.C. will get fined, all for things that I think we can be justified by.”
In the night game, Mike Tauchman hit a two-run single in the seventh off Matt Barnes (3-4) to break a 4-4 tie, making a winner of Tommy Kahnle (3-0). Zack Britton struck out Rafael Devers to escape a bases-loaded jam in the eighth, and Aroldis Chapman pitched around Martinez’s fourth walk for his 29th save in 34 chances.
Red Sox left-hander Brian Johnson pitched three innings in his first appearance since June 22 after being sidelined by an unspecified, non-baseball-related medical matter.
Devers hit his career-high 22nd homer , a two-run drive. It wasn’t enough.
“Kind of like we regress. Kind of like early in the season,” Cora said.
Daddy’s back: Boston LHP David Price (7-5) and Yankees LHP J.A. Happ (8-6) both return from paternity leave to start the series finale.