RECAP: Andrew Benintendi Makes Game-Saving Catch in Ninth Inning as #RedSox Jump up 3-1 on Astros in ALCS.

In a game that took over four and a half hours to complete, the Red Sox found themselves just one win away from clinching the American League pennant following an enthralling 8-6 win over the Houston Astros on Wednesday night.

Making his second start (fourth appearance) of the postseason in this one was Rick Porcello, and he did not have it going on early.

Tossing four innings seemingly out of necessity, the right-hander got hit hard, as he surrendered a postseason-high four earned runs on seven hits, one walk, and one HBP to go along with three strikeouts on the night.

Right from the get go, it was clear to see Porcello was struggling to find any sort of rhythm. The Astros were making hard contact and getting on base, which could have led to two runs crossing the plate in their half of the first, right after the Red Sox scored a pair of their own, had it not been for Joe West ruling this ball off the bat of Jose Altuve as fan interference.

I don’t want to get into this too much, since like Tuesday’s controversy, it really did not make a difference in the end, but I do believe it’s pretty obvious that Mookie Betts would have made that spectacular catch had that fan not shut his glove closed.

Any who, Porcello got out of the first unscathed. Great, maybe he’ll start to settle in a bit after getting that out of the way, I thought.

Nope, instead Josh Reddick and Carlos Correa greeted the New Jersey native in their half of the second by consecutively reaching base, and that led to Houston’s first run of the night coming around to score on a Correa RBI single.

An inning later, George Springer, who seemingly hits a home run in almost every postseason game he plays in, was at it agin with a leadoff solo shot to right field that cut Boston’s lead to one momentarily.

After a Jose Altuve double to follow that up and two straight outs, Josh Reddick continued his revenge tour against the team he came up with by ripping a line drive RBI single to left to drive in Altuve. Tie game.

In his final frame of work, Porcello failed once again to retire the side in order, as he served up a one out, solo home run to Astros left fielder Tony Kemp, who put his club up by a run with his first homer of the series.

Finishing his night by getting Jose Altuve to pop out to first for the final out of the fourth, Porcello would finish with a final pitch count of 68 (46 strikes).

Out of those 68 pitches, the 29-year-old hurler, who was caught by Christian Vazquez, relied on his slider the most at 31% of the time and topped out at 92.9 MPH with his four-seam fastball in the first inning. He only induced seven total swings and misses as well.

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Whether we see Porcello again in this series will probably be indicative on whether or not it goes back to Boston.

If the Red Sox clinch the pennant tonight, then there’s obviously no need for him until the World Series. But, it would not shock me to see Alex Cora turn to Porcello in a late, close game at Fenway either.

In relief of Porcello, the Red Sox bullpen was responsible for locking down the final five innings of Wednesday night’s contest.

Joe Kelly (1-1) got the first call in the fifth with the game tied at four runs each, but surrendered the then go-ahead run on another Carlos Correa RBI single in the lone inning he appeared in.

Eduardo Rodriguez was next up with left-handed bat Tony Kemp set to leadoff the sixth, and he walked him on seven pitches, the last three of which were all balls. Not ideal.

That made way for Ryan Brasier to clean up that small mess, and he did just that by sitting down the 1-2-3 hitters in the Astros lineup in consecutive fashion.

With his team up 7-5 by the time he took the mound again for the seventh, Brasier would be unable to do his job this time, as he gave up a leadoff single to Marwin Gonzalez and a two out double to the pesky Carlos Correa to put runners at second and third.

Matt Barnes got the next call from Alex Cora in this crucial spot with the pinch-hitting Tyler White at the plate for Houston, and he managed to strikeout White while his bat never left his shoulder. Inning over.

Finally, Craig Kimbrel came on in an extremely rare SIX out save situation with a three-run lead to protect, and somehow, someway he did it.

It was far from easy and certainly very stressful with the Astros cutting their deficit down to two in the eighth and then loading the bases with two outs in the ninth, but Kimbrel was bailed out twice by his stellar outfield.

The first came in eighth, when the aforementioned Tony Kemp tried to stretch a leadoff single into a leadoff double, but his childhood friend, Mookie Betts, had other ideas.

And in the ninth, with two outs and an Astro on every base, Andrew Benintendi made the catch of his life on a screaming line drive off the bat of Alex Bregman that was falling rapidly.

Absolutely unreal. That’s how this ballgame would end only four and a half hours after it started.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Astros veteran right-hander Charlie Morton, who hadn’t seen any in-game action since the end of September.

Like they did off of Gerrit Cole on Tuesday, the top of the lineup got things started right away in the first, as Mookie Betts and JD Martinez drew a pair of walks to put runners on first and second with one out.

A wild pitch with Xander Bogaerts at the plate would allow both runners to advance into scoring position, but Bogaerts was unable to bring them home.

Fortunately, Rafael Devers, who has seemingly turned into an elite hitter in the postseason, came through with a two out, two RBI single to left field that saw his club take an early 2-0 lead.

Over the next four innings, not only was Morton knocked out of this contest, but a pair of Xander Bogaerts RBI base knocks, one in the third and one in the fifth, gave the Red Sox a two-run lead and then pulled them even with Houston at four runs each.

In the sixth, a red-hot Jackie Bradley Jr. came up looking for his first hit of the evening with two outs and Christian Vazquez at second following a double, and he did just that by smoking a 89 MPH changeup from Astros reliever Josh James 385 feet down the right field line.

That put Boston up 6-5, and they would not have to look back on that lead despite some late inning concerns.

To add on what would become much needed insurance, a Brock Holt bases loaded walk in the seventh, followed by a JD Martinez RBI single in the ninth, would eventually be all the Red Sox would need to go up 3-1 in this American League Championship Series.

Some notes from this 8-6 win:

From @SoxNotes: Most multi-RBI games in an ALCS, Red Sox history: David Ortiz – 4 (2004) Jason Varitek – 3 (2004) Jackie Bradley Jr. – 3 (2018)

Most RBI in an ALCS, Red Sox history: David Ortiz – 11 (2004) Manny Ramirez – 10 (2007) Jackie Bradley Jr. – 9 (2018) Mike Lowell – 8 (2007)

Including the Postseason, the Red Sox are 14-0 in 2018 when Jackie Bradley Jr. hits a home run.

The Red Sox are 4-0 on the road this postseason.

With the opportunity to clinch a spot in the World Series with a win tonight, it will be David Price, not Chris Sale, on the mound for Boston.

Pitching on only four days rest, it appeared as though Price was available to come out of the bullpen if needed on Wednesday, but that did not happen.

In his only other appearance of this series, the southpaw nearly earned the winning decision in 4.2 innings of four-run ball in Game Two at Fenway Park last Sunday.

Opposite Price will be Astros ace Justin Verlander, who allowed just two runs to score over six quality innings of work in a Game One win for Houston.

A lot is on the line Thursday, and first pitch of Game Five is scheduled for 8:09 PM ET on TBS.

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RECAP: Jackie Bradley Jr. Blasts Grand Slam as #RedSox Take 2-1 Edge over Astros in ALCS.

The Boston Red Sox are two victories away from heading to their 13th World Series following an 8-2 blowout win over the Houston Astros in the first of three games at Minute Maid Park on Tuesday night.

Nathan Eovaldi got the start for Boston in this one, his second of the postseason, and he put together yet another solid outing in enemy territory as he did last Monday night in New York.

Pitching six full innings, the right-hander surrendered all but two earned runs on six hits and two walks to go along with four strikeouts on the night.

Despite dealing with a fair amount of traffic on the base paths, Eovaldi managed to hold his own against a team that can capitalize on mistakes in an instant by holding them to those two runs, the first of which came in the first and the second of which came in the fifth.

Ending his outing by retiring three of the final four hitters he faced in Houston’s half of the sixth, Eovaldi’s night came to an end with his pitch count at 92.

Out of those 92 pitches, 60 of which were strikes, the Houston native threw 30 cutters, 27 four-seam fastballs, 14 cutters, 11 splitters, and 10 sliders, which induced 10 total swinging strikes.

 

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He also topped out at 101 MPH with that four-seamer in the first inning and was responsible for eight of the game’s fastest 10 pitches on either side.

For his first ever time in a postseason, Eovaldi has proven that he is very capable of performing at a high level on a bigger stage.

In two starts this October, the 28-year-old is 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA over 13 innings pitched with nine strikeouts and only two walks over that span.

In relief of Eovaldi, the Red Sox bullpen had themselves another memorable night, as they accounted for three scoreless innings to close this thing out.

Ryan Brasier got the first call to start the seventh with a one-run lead to protect, and despite allowing the tying run to reach scoring position on a Jose Altuve bunt single and passed ball, was able to escape the jam by getting Alex Bregman to line out to center field to end the inning.

Matt Barnes was next up for the eighth, moments after his team jumped out to an 8-2 advantage, and he followed up a leadoff walk by recording the first two outs of the frame.

That made way for Joe Kelly, who retired the lone hitter he faced on a Carlos Correa, 6-3 ground out.

Finally, Eduardo Rodriguez was responsible for the ninth in his first appearance of this series, and he closed things out in 1-2-3 fashion to secure an impactful win for his club.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel, and they put up runs before the first out of the contest was even recorded.

Back-to-back singles from Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi in the first set up a coolish JD Martinez in a nice run scoring spot, and the Red Sox’ DH came through with an RBI double to plate Betts and move Benintendi up to third.

Just a few moments after that, Xander Bogaerts doubled his team’s early lead by scoring Benintendi on an RBI ground out. 2-0 game.

Two innings later, with Martinez and Bogaerts on base following two straight walks from Keuchel, Steve Pearce appeared to come up with a crucial two out RBI knock on a sharp fly ball to left field, but Astros left fielder Tony Kemp, who is listed at 5’7”, made an improbable catch to end the third, or did he?

Whether or not you think Kemp caught that ball clean or it hit the wall before it landed in his glove, I’m just glad it ended up not making all that much a difference in the final score.

Fortunately for Pearce, he would have a chance to redeem himself in the sixth, and that he did on a one out, 1-0 88 MPH fastball from Astros reliever Joe Smith.

That ball, Pearce’s first of the postseason, was sent 456 feet down the left field line, which according to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, is “the 4th longest Statcast-tracked postseason homer (2015-18), and the longest by a Red Sox.” It also put his team up 3-2, which is a lead they would not have to look back on.

As a matter of fact, that lead inflated some more in the eighth inning, all with closer Roberto Osuna, who entered Tuesday with a career 5.28 ERA when pitching against Boston, on the mound for Houston.

Igniting the rally was Rafael Devers, who didn’t even start this game, with a two out single to move Steve Pearce up to second.

That was followed by consecutive HBPs of Brock Holt and Mitch Moreland, both of whom were pinch-hitting for Ian Kinsler and Christian Vazquez.

The Holt HBP loaded the bases and the Moreland HBP served two purposes. One, it drove in Pearce from third, and two, it reloaded the bases for Jackie Bradley Jr.

Already with a bases-clearing extra base hit under his belt in this series, the scorching Bradley Jr. capitalized on another huge RBI chance by unloading on a 94 MPH fastball that was up and in and pulled it to right for the game-sealing grand slam.

David Ortiz’s reaction:

Some notes from this 8-2 win:

From @SoxNotes: Steve Pearce has recorded at least 1 hit and scored at least 1 run in each of his 6 starts in the 2018 postseason. The only other Red Sox player ever to do that in 6 consecutive starts in a single postseason is Mike Lowell (2007).

From @PeteAbe: Red Sox have outscored teams 28-6 on the road in three postseason games.

From @Sean_McAdam: Bradley was 1-for-17 with seven strikeouts with the bases loaded during season. Last two ABs: 3-run double Sunday; grand slam tonight.

Looking to go up 3-1 in this series tomorrow night, it will be Rick Porcello getting the starting nod for the Red Sox.

Coming in with a 1.35 ERA over 6.2 innings pitched this October, Porcello has done a little bit of everything at an effective level. Starting, coming in as reliever, it really doesn’t seem to matter for the right-hander.

Opposite Porcello will be veteran right-hander Charlie Morton for the Astros.

Morton, 34, did not pitch for his club in their three-game sweep of the Cleveland Indians in the ALDS, and his last regular season start came on September 30th, so it will be interesting to see if there is some rust there.

First pitch of the fourth game of the ALCS is scheduled for 8:39 PM ET Wednesday on TBS.

 

RECAP: Jackie Bradley Jr.’s Go-Ahead Three-Run Double Lifts #RedSox to 7-5 Win over Astros in Game Two of ALCS.

After dropping a frustrating Game One to the Houston Astros on Saturday night, the Red Sox looked to head to Houston and an off day with this American League Championship Series tied at one game a piece, and that they did.

Making his first start since serving up three runs in a losing effort in Game Two of the ALDS against the New York Yankees last Saturday, David Price attempted to once again exercise his postseason demons against a club he has had more success against over his career.

Pitching into the fifth inning of this one, the left-hander was charged for four earned runs on five hits and four walks to go along with one strikeout on the night.

Similar to Chris Sale on Saturday, control was an issue for Price last night, and that was evident with two walks right away in the top half of the first.

Despite those two early free passes, the Astros didn’t get to the Tennessee native until the second, when with two outs and runners on second and third, George Springer ripped a two-run double to right field.

That tied this contest up at 2-2, but given the circumstances of what happened beforehand, I would not put all of the blame on Price up to that point.

What I would criticize about Price’s performance came an inning later, when with two outs again and a runner at first, Marwin Gonzalez leaned into a 3-2 92 MPH fastball and sent it 397 feet over the Green Monster.

That two-run shot gave Houston their first lead of the night, but that did not last all that long.

As for how the rest of David Price’s night went, well, he sat down six of the final eight Astro hitters he faced following that home run, and was pulled with two outs in the top of the fifth with Marwin Gonzalez due up next.

Finishing with a final pitch count of exactly 80 (50 strikes), the 33-year-old hurler relied on his two-seam fastball the most on Sunday, as he turned to it approximately 35% of the time he was on the mound. He also topped out at 93.6 MPH with the same pitch in the first inning and induced seven total swinging strikes.

Although he was unable to officially pick up the winning decision in this one, with the Red Sox coming away with the victory, David Price has finally won one of his postseason starts after 10 career failed attempts beforehand. It certainly wasn’t his best effort, but it was enough to give his team a chance to win, which they capitalized on.

In relief of Price, the Red Sox bullpen was responsible for the final 4.2 innings last night, and Matt Barnes got a solid all around performance from Boston relievers started by striking out Marwin Gonzalez to end the top half of the fifth and strand runners on first and second.

From that point on, Barnes (1-0) recorded three more outs in consecutive order in the sixth to make away for Ryan Brasier in the seventh.

Brasier, making his second appearance of the series, worked his way around a two out walk in an otherwise clean frame of relief.

Rick Porcello, who last served as the set up man for Boston in Game One of the ALDS, took on the role once again in the eighth inning, and he needed just 18 pitches to sit down the side in order.

Finally, Craig Kimbrel came on for the save opportunity with a fresh three-run lead to protect in the ninth.

Despite allowing the tying run to come to the plate after cutting the Astros deficit to two runs, the flame throwing closer managed to hold on and pick up his third save of this postseason by getting Alex Bregman to fly out to left for the third and final out. Disaster averted once again.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Astros right-hander Gerrit Cole, who had never pitched in a LCS before last night.

Starting the scoring right away in the bottom of the first, back-to-back leadoff hits from Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi plated Betts and gave the Red Sox an early advantage seemingly right away.

Four batters later, with the bases loaded and only out in the inning, Rafael Devers, not Eduardo Nunez, came to the plate as the starting third baseman, and instantly deliverd in his first at bat of the night by beating the shift and lining an RBI double to left field that drove in Benintendi from third. 2-0.

Two innings later, after the Astros had gone up by a pair of runs themselves, the Red Sox bats responded by loading the bases off of Cole for the second time in three innings.

Coming to the plate with runners on each base and two outs in the bottom of the third, Jackie Bradley Jr. delivered with the clutchest hit of the night, a bases-clearing three RBI double down the left field line that put his team up 5-4.

Fast forward all the way to the seventh now, with Cole out and Lance McCullers Jr. in for Houston, Mookie Betts provided some late game insurance by scoring from third on a passed ball with Xander Bogaerts at the plate. 6-4.

And in the eighth, Mookie Betts wrapped up a fine night of scoring from his team by lining a sharp RBI double to center field.

That allowed Rafael Devers, who led the inning against Astros reliever Josh James off with a single, to score all the way from second, and that is all the Red Sox would need to even this series up in a 7-5 victory.

Some notes from this 7-5 win: 

It was reported in the middle of this game that Chris Sale had been sent to Mass General Hospital earlier in the afternoon due to a stomach ailment:

Obviously, that caught everyone a bit off guard and no further updates have been released as I am writing this.

On a more positive note though, Matt Barnes, who earned the winning decision last night, has yet to yield a run over four total relief appearances this postseason.

It’s an off day in Houston for the Red Sox on Monday, but it’s back to business for Game Three of this ALCS at Minute Maid Park on Tuesday.

Nathan Eovaldi and Dallas Keuchel are set to be the starters in what has transitioned into the opening game of a now best-of-five game series.

First pitch of the third game is scheduled for 5:09 PM ET Tuesday on TBS.

Also, shout out to the Patriots for winning their third straight game. It was a good Sunday night in Boston.

RECAP: #RedSox Advance to ALCS Following Dramatic 4-3 Win over Yankees in New York.

For the first time since 2013, the Boston Red Sox are headed back to the American League Championship series following a tightly contested 4-3 win over the New York Yankees Tuesday night.

Making his first start of the postseason in this series-clinching Game Four of the ALDS was Rick Porcello, who previously appeared as a reliever in the eighth inning of Game One last Friday.

Tossing five full innings in this one, the right-hander limited New York to just one lone run on four hits and no walks to go along with one punch out on the evening.

The second straight quality outing from a Red Sox starting pitcher, Porcello retired 12 of the first 14 hitters he faced before running into a bit of trouble in the bottom of the fifth.

There, he gave up the only Yankee run of the night on a Brett Gardner sacrfice fly to score Gary Sanchez from third, after both Sanchez and Gleyber Torres reached base on back-to-back one out hits off the New Jersey native.

Other than that though, Porcello managed to escape the fifth with just the one run allowed, and that is how is night would come to a positive close.

Finishing with an efficient final pitch count of 65 (48 strikes), the 29-year-old hurler, who was caught by Christian Vazquez, mixed up his pitch selection by throwing 25 four-seam fastballs, 16 sliders, 12 two-seam fastballs, eight curveballs, and four changeups, which resulted in eight total swings and misses.

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He also topped out at 93.6 MPH with that four-seam fastball en route to the first postseason winning decision of his career.

In relief of Porcello, the Red Sox bullpen was responsible for the final three innings of this one with a three run lead to protect.

Matt Barnes and Ryan Brasier both did their jobs by tossing a scoreless frame each in the sixth and seventh, which surprisingly set up Chris Sale to make a rare appearance out of the bullpen in the eighth inning.

Pitching out of the bullpen for the first time since last year’s ALDS and only pitching on three days rest since his Game One start on Friday, the Red Sox ace clearly didn’t miss a beat, as he needed just 13 pitches to retire the side in 1-2-3 fashion.

And finally, in the ninth, Craig Kimbrel came on for his second save opportunity of the series, and he nearly blew it.

With no real command of his fastball, the flame throwing closer allowed the first two hitters he faced to reach base before striking out Giancarlo Stanton for the first out of the inning.

After walking another man on four straight balls, Neil Walker came to the plate with the bases loaded for New York, and he cut Boston’s three run lead down to two by taking an 87 MPH knuckle curveball off his foot to drive in Aaron Judge from third and reload the bases.

A sacrifice fly off the bat of Gary Sanchez a few moments later plated Didi Gregorius from third, and just like that, it was a one run game with two outs in the bottom of the ninth.

Down to their final out, rookie second baseman Gleyber Torres came up with the chance to send this series back to Fenway Park, but Kimbrel prevailed by getting him to ground out to third for the third and final out of the contest.

Ridiculous efforts from Eduardo Nunez and Steve Pearce there, and that is how the Red Sox clinched their way to a spot in the ALCS for the first time in five years. Disaster avoided.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia, who hadn’t pitched against Boston in a postseason game since 2007 when he was a member of the Cleveland Indians.

Starting the scoring in their half of the third, Andrew Benintendi would end up being the catalyst for a three-run inning after leading things off with a HBP.

A Steve Pearce single would advance Benintendi  all the way from third with JD Martinez due up next.

Capitalizing on yet another scoring opportunity, the regular season league leader in RBI collected his sixth RBI of the series on a sac fly to center field to plate Benintendi from third and put his team on the board first.

Two batters later, Ian Kinsler doubled his team’s lead by driving in Pearce, who advanced on a Sabathia wild pitch, from third on an RBI double to left.

Eduardo Nunez, who entered Game Four without a hit in this series, was up next, and he drilled the first pitch he saw from Sabathia to reach first on an RBI single and plate Kinsler from second. 3-0.

In the fourth, with Sabathia out and Zach Britton now in for New York, Christian Vazquez essentially put this game on ice by blasting his first career postseason home run to lead off the inning.

That solo shot was only hit 338 feet, but it was all the Red Sox would need to eventually pick up a series-clinching win in enemy territory.

Some notes from this 4-3 win:

This season at Yankee Stadium, the Red Sox clinched both the American League East and a spot in the American League Championship Series.

Dating back to the 2004 ALCS, the Red Sox have won their last four postseason games at Yankee Stadium.

By all means, the Yankees had the advantage in this series going back to Saturday night. They stole homefield advantage with a Game Two win, they went back to Yankee Stadium with the chance to finish the series there, and they had a rowdy crowd behind them.

Instead, the Red Sox entered a very hostile environment, took the home crowd out of both ballgames early by jumping on top first, and did not have look back. Damage done.

So now it’s on to the American League Championship Series. The defending World Series champion Houston Astros already clinched their spot after sweeping the Cleveland Indians on Monday and went 4-3 against Boston this season.

I would expect a Justin Verlander v. Chris Sale pitching matchup for Game One on Saturday night, but nothing has been announced on either side yet.

First pitch of the first game of the ALCS at Fenway Park is scheduled for 8:09 PM ET on TBS.

RECAP: Brock Holt Hits for First Postseason Cycle in MLB History as #RedSox Go off for 16 Runs in Blowout Game Three Win over Yankees.

After momentarily losing home field advantage in a disappointing 6-2 loss at the hands of the Yankees at Fenway Park on Saturday night, the Red Sox headed down to the Bronx and looked to get back on track in the first of two at Yankee Stadium.

Making his postseason debut for Boston  last night was Nathan Eovaldi, who was originally slated to be the starter for Game Four. But, given the rate of success the hurler has had against a former club of his since he joined the Red Sox in July, Alex Cora made the first of many right decisions by moving Eovaldi up to pitch on Monday.

Tossing seven full innings this one, the right-hander surrendered just one earned run on five hits, all singles, and no walks to go along with five strikeouts on the mist-filled night.

That lone run for New York came in their half of the fourth inning, when with no outs and runners on the corners, Didi Gregorius grounded into an RBI force out at second base that plated Luke Voit from third.

Other than that though, Eovaldi get the job done by consistently hitting 100 MPH with his fastball and limiting the quantity of traffic base paths.

Retiring nine of the final 10 hitters he faced, the Texas native’s night would come to a positive end after he got Gleyber Torres to ground into a 4-3 putout to retire the side in the seventh.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 97 (72 strikes) with Christian Vazquez behind the plate, Eovaldi threw 46 four-seam fastballs, 30 cutters, 14 sliders, five splitters, and two curveballs, which induced 17 total swings and misses from Yankee hitters. He also topped out at 101 MPH with that four-seamer in the second inning while reaching 100 MPH seven times.

Not too shabby for a postseason debut if you ask me. As for whether Eovaldi will pitch again in this division series, I believe that is dependent on how long it continues. He obviously would not be available for Tuesday’s game, but I could see him coming out of the bullpen if needed for a potential Game Five on Thursday.

Speaking of the Red Sox bullpen, Alex Cora needed to turn to just two pitchers in relief of Eovaldi on Monday night with the game already well out of reach for the Yankees.

Both Heath Hembree and Eduardo Rodriguez worked a scoreless frame each in the eighth and ninth to wrap this blowout win up.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Yankees ace right-hander Luis Severino, and they had some fresh faces in their who made their presence felt.

Brock Holt, Christian Vazquez, Rafael Devers, and Steve Pearce, all of whom had four total at bats between them prior to Monday, all made their presence felt in this one.

Starting the scoring right away in the second, a Rafael Devers leadoff single would later result in Boston’s first of many runs on the night on a two out infield RBI single off the bat of Christian Vazquez.

An inning later, back-to-back singled from Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi led to JD Martinez notching his fourth RBI of this postseason on a sac fly to left field.

Two batters and one Xander Bogaerts single later, Rafael Devers gave his team a three-run advantage by driving in Benintendi from third on an RBI ground out to second.

In the fourth, the Red Sox would chase Severino from this game without recording an out by loading the bases on a pair of singles from Brock Holt and Christian Vazquez followed by a four pitch walk of Jackie Bradley Jr.

With Lance Lynn taking over in place of Severino and the Red Sox lineup turning over, Mookie Betts took advantage of the opportunity in front of him and finally drove in his first postseason RBI by taking another four pitch, run-scoring walk. 4-0.

A few moments after that, Andrew Benintendi essentially put this game on ice early by unloading the bases on a hard hit, three RBI double down the right field line to put his club up 7-0.

The Red Sox would not stop there though, as the Yankees swapped pitchers once again and both Steve Pearce and Brock Holt plated three more runs on consecutive RBI base knocks off of Chad Green before the top half of the frame finally came to an end.

In total, Boston sent 11 batters to the plate in the fourth inning and came away with SEVEN runs. All while the Yankees burned through their bullpen.

Fast forward all the way to seventh now, with Jonathan Holder on the mound for New York, and JD Martinez struck once again with his second RBI of the night on a line drive single up the middle that scored Jackie Bradley Jr. from second and made it an 11-1 contest.

Another inning later, Brock Holt and Mookie Betts made their presence felt with two more run-scoring hits, Holt’s an RBI double and Betts’ an RBI single, while Ian Kinsler also came around to score from third on a wild pitch from Yanks reliever Stephen Tarpley. 14-1.

Finally, in the ninth, after Ian Kinsler drew a two out walk with Austin Romine, a CATCHER, taking over pitching duties for New York, Brock Holt came to the plate for the sixth time with a chance to make history.

Never before has a major leaguer hit for the natural cycle in a postseason game, and having already collected a single, double, and triple prior to his final AB, Holt certainly made the most of a historic opportunity.

On the very first pitch he saw from Romine, a 79 MPH slider towards the bottom of the strike zone, the Red Sox super utility man swung away and sent that ball 355 feet down the right field line. History made and mission accomplished.

Some notes from this 16-1 win:

From @SoxNotes: This is the 7th game in Red Sox postseason history in which every member of Boston’s starting lineup recorded at least 1 hit. Three of those games have been at Yankee Stadium (also 2003 ALCS Game 6 and 2004 ALCS Game 7).

This is the most runs the Red Sox have ever scored in a postseason game on the road. The previous record was 12 (1999 ALDS Game 5 at Cleveland).

From @MLBStatoftheDay: Boston’s 16-1 win is the largest margin of victory in any Red Sox-Yankees postseason game ever.

With this series now at 2-1 in favor of Boston, the Red Sox will look to end things later tonight with Rick Porcello on the bump.

Originally slated to start Game Three, Porcello recorded two outs in his only other appearance in this series on Friday.

Opposite Porcello will be veteran left-hander CC Sabathia for the Yankees, who owns a 3.29 ERA over 18 postseason games (17 games started) since he joined New York prior the 2009 season.

First pitch of Game Four is scheduled for 8:07 PM ET Tuesday on TBS.

 

RECAP: Chris Sale Fans Eight and JD Martinez Homers in First at Bat as #RedSox Narrowly Take ALDS Opener from Yankees.

It certainly was far from easy, but by the time a hectic Friday night came to a close in Boston, the Red Sox had a 1-0 series lead over the New York Yankees in the ALDS. Let’s break down how we got there.

Taking a nice 0.69 ERA in two regular season starts against the Yankees this year, Chris Sale looked to rebound from a rough 2017 postseason campaign with a solid outing on Friday, and that he did.

Pitching into the sixth inning of this one, the left-hander ended up surrendering just two earned runs on five hits and two walks to go along with eight punch outs on the night as well.

Striking out three of the first four Yankee hitters he faced, the only real problems Sale ran into came with one out in the top half of the sixth, when Giancarlo Stanton ripped a single to left field to put runners at first second. That is how the ace’s night would come to a conclusion.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 93 (61 strikes), which is the most he has thrown in a single outing dating back to July 27th, the Florida native threw 33 sliders, 31 four-seam fastballs, 16 changeups, and 13 two-seam fastballs.

With all the talk about how Sale’s fastball velocity took a significant dip over the course of September, an average velocity of 94.6 MPH does not seem all that bad. He also topped out at 96.6 MPH with that same four-seamer in the first inning.

As for when we see Sale take the mound next, it sounds like the 29-year-old hurler is ready to take on any pitching role, whether it be as a starter or out of the bullpen.

Speaking of the bullpen, boy, did Red Sox relievers have themselves a night to forget on Friday. Here’s a quality picture to sum it all up from the sixth inning on.

Ryan Brasier got the first call in relief of Sale, and in his first ever postseason appearance, allowed a pair of inherited runners to score while only recording one out.

That made way for Brandon Workman to enter this contest with runners on first and second and one more out to get in the sixth.

One of the only members left from the 2013 World Series team, Workman worked the bases loaded by walking Gary Sanchez on four straight balls, but escaped any further damage in the frame by fanning Gleyber Torres with a nasty knuckle curve for the third out.

In the seventh, the bases were loaded once again for New York thanks to the combined efforts of Workman and then Matt Barnes, but only one run came of it on a Luke Voit RBI force out. Other than that, Barnes too was able to manuever his away out of a stressful jam.

Surprisingly, Rick Porcello, who should still be able to start Game Three in New York on Monday, made an appearance out of the Boston bullpen for the beginning of the eighth inning, and got the first two outs of the frame in pretty quick order.

However, a cheap two out infield single off the bat of Gleyber Torres was the last action Porcello saw in this one, and that made way for a four-out save opportunity for Craig Kimbrel.

Having not pitched in an eighth inning in months, the Red Sox closer needed six pitches to end the top half of the inning, and he would have a two-run lead to work with in the ninth.

An inning that did not start all that swimmingly with Aaron Judge taking him deep to right field to cut the Red Sox lead to one run, Kimbrel rebounded by punching out the final three Yankee hitters he faced on 13 total pitches to wrap this dramatic series opening 5-4 win up.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Yankees left-hander JA Happ, who they just got to for four runs in his last regular season start at Fenway Park on September 28th.

Starting the scoring right away in this one, a one out single from Andrew Benintendi, followed by a four-pitch walk of Steve Pearce, set up JD Martinez in an opportune scoring spot early.

In his first postseason at bat in a Red Sox uniform, the team leader in home runs (43), squared up on a 2-0 94 MPH fastball on the inner half of the plate from Happ and sent it into the first row of Monster seats in left field.

Just like that, it was a 3-0 game thanks to a JD Martinez homer that had an exit velocity of exactly 107 MPH.

Two innings later, back-to-back base knocks from Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi chased Happ out of his first postseason start in pinstripes, and that opened the doors for Steve Pearce to come through in another prime scoring chance with new reliever Chad Green on the bump for New York.

On the very first pitch he saw from the right-handed Green, Pearce, who slugged .757 against the Yankees over the regular season, lined an RBI single to left field to plate Betts from third and move Benintendi up to second. 4-0.

After JD Martinez advanced Benintendi to third on a fly ball out to right field, Xander Bogaerts took responsibility for the final Red Sox run of the night by driving in Benintendi on an RBI sac fly to right field. That put his team up 5-0, which somehow would be the only scoring they would need to pick up this very important victory.

Looking to go up 2-0 in the series headed into an off day on Sunday, David Price will get the ball for Boston on Saturday.

This season against New York, Price went 0-3 with a 10.44 ERA in four starts, but did look better in his last time out against them at Fenway Park on August 5th, an outing in which the left-hander surrendered just two earned runs on four hits and three walks over six quality innings of work.

Opposite Price will be right-hander Masahiro Tanaka for the Yankees, who finished the 2018 regular season with a 6.52 ERA over the span of two starts at Fenway Park. the Red Sox went 1-1 in those games.

A lot is on the line tonight. First pitch is scheduled for 8:15 PM ET on TBS.

 

#RedSox Set 25-Man Roster for Upcoming ALDS.

There you have it. The ALDS roster is officially set. The Red Sox are going with 14 position players compared to just 11 pitchers.

Given the history of their starters in the postseason, mixed in with the struggles the bullpen has had THIS season, that may be a bold strategy. We’ll have to wait and see if it pays off for them.

Exactly one week ago, I gave my predictions for what I thought this ALDS roster was going to look like, and not to brag, but I got 24/25 correct.

The only player I did not have on my unofficial roster was Joe Kelly, who is seemingly taking the place of Bobby Poyner in this series’ Red Sox bullpen.

I find that particularly interesting. Not only did Kelly struggle in the month of September (8.31 ERA in 8.1 IP), but Poyner, who is in his rookie season, is probably the best situation left-handed reliever the Red Sox have to offer.

With that in mind, I’m curious to see how Alex Cora manages Eduardo Rodriguez out of the ‘pen. As the only southpaw who will not be starting a game in this series, will E-Rod be used in long relief, or will he be used to get one specific hitter out?

It is worth mentioning that the Yankee lineup is right-handed heavy, so maybe I just answered my own question as to why Poyner did not make this roster.

Any who, the rest of the roster is what you would expect from this Red Sox team. Chris Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello, and Nathan Eovaldi make up the starting rotation.

Matt Barnes, Ryan Brasier, and Craig Kimbrel make up the heart of the Red Sox bullpen.

Sandy Leon, Christian Vazquez, and Blake Swihart make up the catchers, although Swihart will probably be primarily used as a pinch runner off the bench.

From left to right, Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, Ian Kinsler, and Steve Pearce represent the infield. While guys like Eduardo Nunez, Brock Holt, and Mitch Moreland should see their fair share of playing time as well.

And finally, one of the best position groups in the American League remains unchanged, as Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Mookie Betts will be manning the outfield, while JD Martinez will serve as the designated hitter.

It’s a lefty vs. lefty pitching matchup for Game One of the ALDS on Friday night at Fenway Park.

For New York, JA Happ gets the nod for his fourth career postseason start. And for Boston, it will be none other than Chris Sale, who is starting the ALDS opener for the second straight year.

First pitch of the first game of the series is scheduled for 7:32 PM ET on TBS later tonight. Time to do damage.