Following Saturday’s 6-2 victory over the Boston Red Sox, evening up the series at one game apiece. The tide and momentum had seemed to switch over to the New York Yankees. Having taken care of business by winning one game on the road, the Yankees now owned home field advantage in this best of five series. Even all-star right fielder, Aaron Judge, was the thinking the series was over as he was seen on video blasting “New York, New York,” outside of the Red Sox locker room following game two.
Instead the Yankee bats either stayed in Boston, or went into hibernation mode for both games three and four. Not only did the Red Sox win both games, clinching their ticket to the ALCS, the Sox outscored the so called “Bronx Bombers” 20-4 between both games. And for the second time this season, the Red Sox found themselves celebrating once again in Yankee Stadium.
Here’s how the Yankees eliminated themselves Tuesday night.
After getting embarrassed Monday night, the Yankees found themselves for the second consecutive week in a win or go home contest. Ageless wonder C.C. Sabathia took the mound for the Yankees, headlined by his 10-7 career postseason record, and with a history of pitching in high leverage ball games, the Yankees seemed comfortable riding him. While, the Red Sox sent out starter Rick Porcello, who had never won a postseason game to command the mound for game four.
Everything seemed to be working out for Sabathia to start off the game, after he recorded the first two outs in the top of the first Yankee stadium was rocking. Then things got spooky, Red Sox first baseman Steven Pierce hit a two-out single to center, then designated hitter and MVP hopeful J.D. Martinez hit a soft grounder to second going against the shift Martinez made it to first safely. Shortstop Xander Bogarts was then walked loading up the bases. Second baseman Ian Kinsler, acquired by the Sox midseason from the Los Angeles Angels came up. Kinsler swung on the first pitch he saw, pulling the ball to left field that drove left fielder Brett Gardner all the way to the warning track, but had enough room to make the catch. Sabathia escaped the jam avoiding trouble.
If you had put both pitchers’ postseason records next to each other not knowing which was whose, you would’ve thought Porcello was 10-7. Porcello established his dominance early, by retiring the Yankees in order during the bottom of the first. Porcello only needed eight pitches before making his way back to the dugout.
After combining zeros in the second inning, a pitching duel was being talked about, however, the Red Sox in the top of the third struck on Sabathia. After hitting left fielder Andrew Benintendi to lead off the inning, Pierce smacked a single into right center, resulting in Benintendi winding up at third. Runners on the corners and no one out Sabathia found himself in the stretch with the heart of Boston’s order coming up. Martinez smacked a sacrifice fly into deep center giving the Sox a 1-0 lead. However, Boston wasn’t done after recording the second out, Kinsler came up to the plate smacking a rbi double over the leaping Gardner in left field giving the Sox a 2-0 lead now. Manager Aaron Boone, seemed to have left Sabathia out too long as former Yankee third baseman Eduardo Nunez followed suit by smacking a liner to left scoring Kinsler.
Red Sox now lead 3-0.
Porcello, was the opposite. After being given a three-run lead, Porcello showed his gratitude by continuing his dominance pitching a scoreless bottom of the third.
Boone having seen enough turned to lefty reliever Zach Britton to pitch the fourth. Britton acquired by the Yankees from the Baltimore Orioles midseason was one of the most dominating closers in all of baseball just a few seasons ago. However, in just his fourth pitch thrown, catcher Christian Vazquez gave Boston a 4-0 lead by smacking a solo shot to the opposite field in the the right field stands. Britton later settled down by retiring the next two batters, but the damage had been done.
Porcello continued to cruise by pitching a scoreless fourth, but found some trouble in the fifth. After recording the first out, Porcello gave up a ground rule double to “catcher” Gary Sanchez. With Sanchez at second and one out rookie second baseman Gleyber Torres followed up with a soft single down the third base line. Sanchez having advanced to third later scored on Gardner’s sacrifice fly. The Yankees had now inched closer.
Score 4-1 Boston.
It now turned into a battle of the bullpen for the rest of the game. Manager Alex Cora relieved Porcello after five solid innings turning to his shaky bullpen. With the advantage of the bullpen going to the Yankees, taking Porcello out was appearing to be a questionable decision. But Cora had a card up his sleeve no one envisioned.
After right handed reliever Matt Barnes pitched a scoreless sixth, reliever Ryan Brasier took the mound for the seventh for the Sox. Brasier is remembered for his words in game two when he shouted at Sanchez to get back into the batter’s box. Brasier continued Barnes’s dominance by following with his own scoreless inning.
The Yankees, however were also displaying a dominant performance from their bullpen. Relievers David Robertson and Dellion Betances came into the game throwing zeros, keeping the Sox off the ball thanks to questionable calls from home plate umpire Angel Hernandez.
The move Cora had up his sleeve appeared to start the bottom of the eighth. Slated in to start game five if necessary, all-star left handed Chris Sale arose from the dugout to pitch the eighth for the Sox’s. And boy Cora’s ace delivered. Sale got Torres to fly out to deep right center for the first out, but Sale calmed down retiring Andrew McCutchen who pinch hit for Gardner, and struck out center fielder Aaron Hicks looking.
To the bottom of the ninth we went, and the Yankees were down to their final three outs. Closer Craig Kimbrel was on the mound, never having pitched well against the Yankees optimism was looming inside Yankee stadium. Erratic to start off the inning Kimbrel gave up a leadoff walk to Judge, and single to shortstop Didi Gregorius. With runners on first and second with no one out, designated hitter Giancarlo Stanton had a chance iconic Yankee moment to tie the game potentially forcing a game five. Instead Stanton looking overwhelmed by the moment striking out swinging on four pitches. However, the Yankees weren’t done, first baseman Luke Voit worked a walk loading up the bases with one out, and third baseman Neil Walker was hit by a pitch forcing in a run.
Score 4-2 Boston.
Sanchez now coming up to the plate, in a season full of struggles and ridicule had a chance to silence all his doubters, and for a moment he almost did. Sanchez with the bases loaded hit a deep fly ball to left field, that kept on carrying eventually Benintendi ran it down on the warning track resulting in a sacrifice fly. Yankees had now cut the lead to one run. Baby Bomber Torres was now up. Torres hit a soft grounder to third where Nunez ex Yankee ended the bombers season by throwing out Torres at first in the teensiest of inches.
A team that had hit the most home runs in baseball during the regular season the Yankees could never find the big hit Tuesday night.
Game one of the ALCS will take place in Boston Saturday night 8:09pm where the Red Sox will host the defending champion Houston Astros in a best of seven series.