NEW YORK — The Red Sox can’t come out and say their season is over. With nearly seven weeks left, it’s still too early to think like that. Their own collapse last season proved anything can happen in baseball.
But a 4-1 loss against the Yankees Sunday night left the Sox looking like a dead team.
At 59-63, the Sox are 13½ games behind the Yankees in the American League East and 7½ games out in the wild-card race with 40 games left.
“We have to play one game at a time, we can’t really worry about any of that stuff,” said Josh Beckett, who took the loss. “We need a lot of things to happen now.”
With their playoff hopes on life support, the Sox are expected to announce Monday that left fielder Carl Crawford will undergo season-ending surgery on his left elbow. It would be a tacit acknowledgment that Crawford is better served preparing for next season than playing out the string this year.
Crawford had one hit in what may be his final game, one of the five the Sox had. They weren’t nearly enough as Beckett allowed four runs over six innings.
Ichiro Suzuki hit two solo home runs for the Yankees, the second one earning him a curtain call from the sellout crowd of 48,620. The Yankees hit eight home runs in the series, all without a runner on base.
The Sox were 4-6 on their road trip and have dropped eight of their last 12 games. They open a seven-game homestand Tuesday before what could be a hostile crowd at Fenway Park given the team’s run of bad news on and off the field.
“All we can do is keep playing,” Beckett said.
The first inning, as is often the case, was not a good one for Beckett.
Derek Jeter led off and smacked the second pitch he saw — a 92-mile-per-hour fastball that hung right over the middle of the plate — over the head of center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury for a double.
Jeter advanced to third when Nick Swisher grounded to second base. Beckett then struck out Robinson Cano and got ahead of Curtis Granderson, 1 and 2.
But Beckett left a cut fastball over the plate and Granderson lined it to right field for an RBI double.
Beckett, who was pitching in his 300th regular-season game, has allowed at least one run in the first inning in nine of his 21 starts.
The one run Sunday night actually lowered his earned run in the first inning from 9.90 to 9.86.
Jeter doubled to center field with one out in the third inning. After Swisher walked and the Yankees executed a double steal, Beckett bounced a curveball in front of the plate that skipped past rookie catcher Ryan Lavarnway. The wild pitch scored Jeter.
“Not sure where it bounced to, but it was off to the side,” Lavarnway said.
The next two runs came courtesy of Suzuki. He lined a fastball over the fence in right field in the fourth inning and did the same to another fastball in the sixth inning.
Suzuki has been rejuvenated since being acquired by the Yankees on July 23, hitting .322 over 26 games and playing all three outfield positions with his customary flair.
Beckett (5-11) lasted six innings, giving up four runs on seven hits with three walks and six strikeouts.
“It’s a work in progress I guess. Still [bad] results,” he said.
Beckett, who last won a game July 15, has a 7.59 ERA in his last six starts.
Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda (12-8) was working on a two-hit shutout in the seventh inning when Adrian Gonzalez homered to right field. It was the 15th home run for Gonzalez and gave him 40 RBIs in 34 games since the All-Star break, the most in the majors.
Gonzalez has 85 RBIs on the season, fifth in the American League. After a poor start, he has played to his usual level.
Kuroda was otherwise unscathed. He allowed one run on four hits over eight innings. He struck out four without a walk.
“We never got him out of his rhythm,” manager Bobby Valentine said.
Kuroda has given up three earned runs over 16 innings in his last two starts against the Sox.
Kuroda is 4-1 with a 1.39 ERA in his last six starts. With CC Sabathia on the disabled list, Kuroda has helped the Yankees maintain their hold on first place in the AL East.
“Boston’s a good offensive team, and I don’t know how many starts this is in a row for him, but he was pretty much in control the entire time,” Jeter said. “He’s a big part of this team, and been pitching extremely well. We have a lot of confidence with him when he’s on the mound, and he’s kept us in a lot of the games he’s pitched.”
The Yankees signed Kuroda to a one-year, $10 million deal over the winter. The Red Sox passed on pursuing the 37-year-old righthander, believing that their starting pitching was strong enough to compete for the division title.
Thanks in part to the poor work of Beckett, that proved to be a fatal miscalculation.