It’s Going to Be a #RedSox-Yankees ALDS.

For the first time since 2004, yes 2004, the Red Sox and Yankees will be meeting up in the postseason.

That’s right, the 100-62 New York Yankees ran away with a 7-2 victory over the 97-65 Oakland Athletics in Wednesday night’s American League Wild Card game at Yankee Stadium.

Yankees ace Luis Severino got the starting nod for the second consecutive year in this single elimination contest in his home ballpark, and he proved the haters and doubters wrong by tossing four-plus innings of quality, scoreless work to go along with seven strikeouts.

In relief of Severino, the Yankees bullpen held up their end of the bargain as well by allowing just two runs, both of which came on a Khris Davis two-run home run in the eighth, over the final five frames of this one.

Dellin Betances and David Robertson worked up until the middle of the seventh inning, when Zach Britton, making his first postseason appearance with New York, served up that opposite field shot to the league leader in home runs in Davis.

And in the ninth, looking to close this thing out, the flame throwing Aroldis Chapman came in for his 25th career postseason appearance, and he held the A’s in check to lock down the Wild Card win.

So, there you have it. It’s not for a trip to the World Series, but we are set for the first Yankees-Red Sox postseason series in nearly 14 years this coming Friday.

As you may recall, these two clubs just played each other to close out the regular season at Fenway Park, where New York took two out of three from the Red Sox to reach 100 wins on the year.ย On the year as a whole though, the Red Sox took 10 of 19 from the Yankees during the season series, with plenty of blowouts to go around during those games.

Chris Sale is expected to start game one of the best-of-five division series on Friday at Fenway Park. David Price should get the nod for the second game on Saturday.

First pitch of those two contests are scheduled for 7:32 PM ET and 8:15 PM ET respectively.

I should have a more in-depth playoff preview sometime before Friday, but until then…

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RECAP: JD Martinez and Xander Bogaerts Both Go Yard as #RedSox Salvage Series Against Oakland with a 6-4 Win.

Entering last night 12-1 in series finales this season, the Red Sox made sure to keep that trend going against the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday, the team responsible for that one loss.

Chris Sale made his tenth start of the season in this one, and he picked up his fourth win. Although I would not say the lefty was at his best last night, he did hold the A’s to just two runs in five innings pitched. In that stretch, Sale scattered two hits and four walks while striking out nine. That first hit he gave up to came against the very first batter he faced in Marcus Semien, and the second hit just so happened to be a two-run home run off the bat of Semien well, which came in Sale’s fifth and final inning of work.

Other than that blunder, the Florida native held the Athletics in check. The four walks, a season high, were a bit of a surprise, and that caused Sale’s pitch count to be higher than normal. In defense of the 29-year-old, conditions at Fenway Park were not ideal for a starting pitcher on Wednesday. Temperatures in the low 50’s, some light rain throughout the game, maybe that had an effect on the lefty, I don’t know.

Anyway, with his pitch count already at 102 (60 strikes) through five innings of work, Sale’s night would come to an end. To start out the sixth, Matt Barnes got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen. He tossed a scorless frame while giving up one hit and recording two strikeouts.

Next up for the seventh inning was Heath Hembree. Unfortunately, the righty’s scoreless appearance streak came to an end at two games, as he surrendered a home run to the first batter he faced in Matt Joyce. It looked like Mookie Betts may have injured his right ankle while trying to rob the solo shot from going over the right field wall, but he was able to stay in the game until the end.

Once Hembree ended things in the seventh, Joe Kelly got the call for the eighth inning for his 19th appearance of the season. The flame throwing Kelly walked Jed Lowrie on six pitches to kick off the inning, but ended up facing the minimum as he got Matt Chapman to ground into a 6-4-3 double play to retire the side and make way for Craig Kimbrel.

With a three run lead to work with entering the top half of the ninth, the pressure was off Kimbrel, and I think he showed it in the beginning. After giving up a solo home run to Matt Olson to lead off the inning, the Red Sox closer settled down and retired the next three batters he faced on 13 pitches. Although his ERA rose a little bit, Kimbrel was good enough to notch his 12th save of the season last night, still good for second in the American League behind only Edwin Diaz of the Seattle Mariners.

 

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup got things started against A’s starter Trevor Cahill in the first inning last night. Two straight singles from Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi created an ideal RBI situation for Hanley Ramirez. With runners on first and third, Ramirez scored Betts on a ground out to first base. The very next batter, JD Martinez, put his team up by a couple more runs with his 12th long ball of the season.

That 422 foot shot was good for two, and it was the last run the Red Sox would score until the sixth.

Fast forward to that point in the game, with no outs and runners on first and second for Xander Bogaerts. Facing off against A’s righty reliever Ryan Dull, Bogaerts concluded the Red Sox scoring on the night by punishing a 82 MPH slider and sending it 411 feet over the Green Monster, putting the his team up by four at that time.

Gotta love the way he pimps his home runs when he knows they are no doubters. With that three-run bomb, the Red Sox short stop now has five on the season.

Those three runs off the bat of Bogaerts pretty much put this game away for the Red Sox, as they went on to pick up their AL East leading 29th win of the season. Despite that fact, they still trail the Yankees, who have not played in a full game since Sunday, in the standings.

Some notes from this one:

In the first game since it was reported that Blake Swihart’s agent wanted his client to be traded, Swihart did not play at all.

With a two-hit performance last night, Andrew Benintendi has extended his hitting streak to nine games now.

According to Alex Cora, Mookie Betts’ right foot got stuck under the padding on the wall in right field, but, “he’s good.” That’s certainly good news.

Next up for the Red Sox is a make-up game rescheduled from Patriots Day against the Baltimore Orioles tonight. That will be followed up by a three-game weekend series against…the Baltimore Orioles. So, I don’t think it technically counts as a four-game set, but David Price will be getting the ball in the “opener” later tonight. He will be matched up against O’s righty Kevin Gausman. Two SEC Baseball alumnus going at it, first pitch of the make-up game is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET.

RECAP: #RedSox Fall Behind Early, Nearly Complete Comeback in 5-3 Loss to Athletics.

It took some time, but the Red Sox lost to the Oakland Athletics for the fourth straight time last night. After a rain delay that lasted approximately one hour and 40 minutes, the Red Sox found themselves behind early once again.

Eduardo Rodriguez got the start in this one, marking his eighth of the season. For the second time in a row, the lefty only lasted five innings on the mound, and despite not being as effective as he was last Wednesday in New York, he did a solid job of avoiding any major damage. In five full innings pitched, the native of Venezuela surrendered three runs on six hits, including a home run, to go along with no walks and four strikeouts. All three of those runs were scored over the first two innings, as Matt Chapman drove in a pair on a double in the first, and Stephen Piscotty mashed a solo home run over the Green Monster in the second.

For Piscotty, this home run is sure to be memorable. It’s his first one since he was activated from the bereavement list on Tuesday, as his mother passed away from ALS last week. Regardless of the result, it was a very cool moment to witness live.

Moving on, with his pitch count all the way up to 93 (53 strikes) through just five innings of work, Eduardo Rodriguez’s night would come to an end. He’ll look to build on this so-so performance next time out against the Baltimore Orioles this Sunday.

Rodriguez’s departure would make way for the return of Steven Wright in the seventh inning. Making his first big league appearance since April 29th of last season, I was curious to see how the knuckeballer would perform in his new role out of the Red Sox bullpen. In his first two innings of work, Wright certainly was not all that effective, but he held the Athletics scoreless over that stretch. He came back out to start the eighth inning as well, but that was probably a mistake.

After getting the leadoff man Jed Lowrie to ground out, Wright gave up two consecutive singles to put runners on first and second with just one out. That would be all for the California native, as he would later be charged with two earned runs when the base runners he was responsible for scored on a Mark Canha double.

Once Wirght departed, it was up to Bobby Poyner to get out of the eighth inning jam. Like Wright, Poyner had just been recalled from Triple A Pawtucket. As I just mentioned though, the lefty gave up a two-run double to the second batter he faced in Mark Canha, and that pretty much put this game out of reach.

Looking to keep it a one run game an inning later, Brian Johnson got the call for the ninth for the second straight win. Once again, Johnson did his job effectively. He held the A’s scoreless while tossing his second straight perfect inning in as many nights.

So, even with some newer additions from within, the Red Sox bullpen should still be an area of concern. Isn’t that right, Mr. Dombrowski?

Anyway, on the other side of things, The Red Sox lineup was held to just three runs last night. Similar to how he performed against them in Oakland, A’s starter Daniel Mengden pitched well against the Red Sox for the second time this season. He held them to just to runs, one of which was earned, over six innings pitched. The Athletics bullpen followed suit by tossing three innings of one run ball.

Trailing 3-0 essentially from the get go, the Red Sox had a chance to tack on a run in their half of the first. Unfortunately for them, a base running gaff from Andrew Benintendi as he was unwisely rounding third base cost them that chance.

Fast forward to the fourth, Mitch Moreland plated the first run of the game for the Red Sox on an RBI ground out that scored JD Martinez from third. This would not have been possible if, when Martinez led the inning off, Matt Chapman did not commit an error while making an errant throw to first base from third. Since the ball ended up out of play, Martinez was awarded second base, and he would eventually score in the inning.

An inning later, Andrew Benintendi redeemed himself from that base running blunder he made earlier by mashing his third home run of the season into the bleachers in right field.

That 437 foot bomb pulled the Red Sox within one run before the A’s pulled away in the eighth. Later in the ninth, down to their last three outs, it looked like a late night rally was about to be staged.

Rafael Devers led things off by reaching first on a strikeout. Pinch hitting for Christian Vazquez, Brock Holt followed that up by ripping a double to left field to put runners on second and third with no outs. With the top of the lineup now at the plate, I was thinking walk off. Instead, Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi, and Hanley Ramirez were retired in order. Devers did cross the plate to make it a two run game, but that would be all the Red Sox could muster in the final frame.

On the bright side of things, Andrew Benintendi is in the midst of an eight game hitting streak. Over that stretch, the Red Sox outfielder is slashing .308/.372/.538 with two home runs and six RBIs.

Having dropped their last two games, Chris Sale will have the opportunity to be the stopper later tonight. He’ll be matched up against A’s righty Trevor Cahill in the series finale. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET. Happy Sale Day.

RECAP: #RedSox Don’t Get No-Hit by Sean Manaea, Still Lose to Athletics by One Run.

These Oakland Athletics, man. 20-21 on the season, 3-1 against the Red Sox. That’s frustrating, even more so after the Red Sox lost by one run to them last night. I guess one early positive to take away from the series opener was that A’s starter Sean Manaea did not throw another-no hitter.

Rick Porcello got the start for the Red Sox in this one, and for the second start in a row, the righty certainly did not have his best performance. In his last start in New York, Porcello surrendered five runs on eight hits and three walks in 5.1 innings pitched. Last night against the Athletics, he surrendered another five runs, this time on nine hits and zero walks in six innings pitched.

Things started to go awry for the New Jersey native in the third inning, when Matt Joyce took him deep to right field for the A’s first run of the game. An inning later, the opposition knocked Porcello around for another three runs on four hits. In his final frame of work, Matt Olson took Porcello deep to center to put his team up by two.

Last night marked the first time this season in which the 29 year-old has given up more than home run in a start. In the four starts he’s made since April 24th, Porcello owns a 5.02 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP in 25 innings pitched. On the bright side, at least he’s going fairly deep into his starts, as none of the four previous outings mentioned have been shorter than five innings for Porcello. With a pitch count of 108 (69 strikes) through six innings, Porcello’s night would come to a disappointing end. He’ll look to rebound next time out when he goes up against the Baltimore Orioles.

In relief of Porcello, Heath Hembree got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen to start off the seventh inning. For the second day in a row, Hembree somewhat impressed, as he held the Athletics scoreless while holding them to one hit.

An inning later, after Rafael Devers had just momentarily pulled the Red Sox within one run, Carson Smith, who had been looking better as of late, served up a solo homer to the first person he saw in Khris Davis. He went on to retire the next three batters he faced, but that home run would prove to be crucial for the A’s given what transpired half an inning later.

After JD Martinez had just made it a one run game once again, Brian Johnson would be responsible for holding the Athletics scoreless. Last time we saw Johnson out of the ‘pen, he gave up a game-winning home run to Luke Maile in Toronto. With that in mind, I’m happy to say that Johnson did not allow last night’s game to get further away from the Red Sox than it already was. The lefty did his job by tossing a perfect ninth, giving his team one last chance in the bottom half of the inning.

On the other side of things, A’s starter Sean Manaea was certainly not as sharp as he was last time the Red Sox saw him in Oakland. After going hitless in the first inning, a JD Martinez single in the second finally gave the Red Sox a hit off the lefty this season. With the monkey off their back, three straight singles from the top of the Red Sox lineup in the third inning put the Red Sox on the board. Hanley Ramirez gave them the lead for a brief moment, as he ripped a single to right field to score Andrew Benintendi from second after he had driven in Mookie Betts on a single of his own. Things were looking up for the Red Sox at this point, but that would not be the case half an inning later, and they would be clawing to get back in this game for the rest of the night.

Fast forward to the fifth, Hanley Ramirez was at it again, as he plated the third run of the game for the Red Sox on a fielder’s choice that scored Sandy Leon from third. That cut the A’s lead to only one run, but once again, that wouldn’t last long.

Two innings later and the Red Sox trailing by two, Rafael Devers cut the deficit in half on his seventh long ball of the season.

That 373 foot shot over the Monster, followed by Sandy Leon reaching on a fielding error, put an end to Sean Manaea’s night, and made way for a mediocre Athletics bullpen. Unfortunately, the top of the lineup could not capitalize on that error, as Yusmeiro Petit ended the inning on nine pitches.

In the eighth, now trailing by two runs again, it would be JD Martinez who cut the deficit in half this time with his 11th homer of the season.

That would be the lone hit of the bottom of the eighth though, and after a scoreless top half of ninth from Brian Johnson, it would be up the 8, 9, and 1 hitters to either tie this thing up or send it into extras.

Facing off against Athletics closer Blake Treinen, Rafael Devers led the inning off by grounding out to first base. After Mitch Moreland came on as a pinch hitter for Sandy Leon, he flew out to left for the second out. Down to just Mookie Betts now, I was somewhat expecting a lengthy, dramatic at bat. Instead, Betts grounded out to short on the second pitch he saw from Treinen, thus ending a very frustrating game and ending the Red Sox winning streak at two.

Some notes from this one:

Mookie Betts, JD Martinez, and Sandy Leon were the only Red Sox hitters to reach base more than once last night.

There was only one walk drawn between the two sides in this game.

With his eighth steal of the season last night, Mookie Betts is now in a three-way tie between himself, Mike Trout, and Kevin Pillar for fourth most swiped bags in the American League.

After his 2-for-4 performance at the plate on Monday, JD Martinez has the eighth best OBP (.396) and is tied for the third best SLG (.641) in the AL. He is one of eight players in all of baseball with an OPS north of one (1.037)

Rick Porcello was dealt his first loss of the season in his ninth start (5-1).

Since starting the season 17-2, the Red Sox are 11-11 over their last 22 games.

Next up for the Red Sox is the middle game of this series later tonight. It will be Daniel Mengden on the mound for the A’s, while Eduardo Rodriguez, coming off maybe his best start of the season last time out in New York, will be taking the mound for Boston. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET.

RECAP: Khris Davis Owns the Day as #RedSox Drop Second Straight Game to Athletics.

For the first time this season, the Boston Red Sox have lost two straight games. As unfortunate as that may be, they are still 17-4 and finished the west coast portion of their road trip at 4-2. Regardless of how they got there, 4-2 on the road ain’t too shabby. With three games left on the trip in Toronto, finishing at either 7-2 or 6-3 would be more than exceptional.

Anyway, David Price made his sixth start of the season in this one, and he was great up until the eighth inning. The lefty held the Athletics to one run on six hits and a walk while striking out five. That one run came on a Khris Davis RBI single in the bottom half of the first. Other than that, not too much to complain about from Price over the first seven innings, because not only was he effective, he was efficient with his pitch count as well. By the time he departed with two outs in the eighth, he was only at 96 pitches, 68 of which went for strikes.

How he got to his departure from this game isn’t all that effective. With the game tied at one, Price retired the first batter he saw in the bottom of the eighth, and followed that up by allowing back to back singles. After striking out Jed Lowrie for the second out of the inning, Khris Davis struck once again as he took things into his own hands, taking the very first pitch of his at bat, an 87 MPH slider from Price, and blasting it 388 feet into the steps in right field.

Davis knew it was gone, Price knew it was gone, and just like that the Athletics were up by three runs, which is all they needed to lock up the win.

Carson Smith came in for mop up duty after the homer, and he retired the only batter he faced on two pitches.

Offensively, the Red Sox lineup had a better day than they did on Saturday. Unfortunately, that’s not saying much because they only scored one run.

That one run came in the top of the seventh on a Brock Holt RBI double. It looked like it was going to be meaningful at the time since it tied the game with one out, but they had some other chances and could not capitalize on them.

Credit to Athletics starting pitching for the second day in a row. He didn’t toss a no-hitter, but Daniel Mengden was solid. He allowed just that one run in 6.1 innings pitched, scattering six hits, striking out five, and walking no one. The Athletics bullpen was also pretty solid as they held the Red Sox scoreless in just less than three innings pitched.

The last chance the Red Sox had to tie or win this thing came in the ninth with two outs and Brock Holt on first after he reached on a fielding error. With Christian Vazquez at the plate and Mookie Betts, who would be pinch-hitting for Tzu-Wei Lin, on deck, it looked like they had a decent chance to take this thing to the bottom of the ninth. On the eighth pitch of the at bat, Vazquez popped up to shallow right field, and it almost fell through.

Luckily for the Athletics, they avoided a potential disaster with Mookie Betts looming and picked up their 11th win of the season.

That marks the first time the Red Sox have lost a series in seven tries to start the year. Like I said earlier, next up is the Toronto Blue Jays in Toronto, who just dropped three out of four to the Yankees in New York. After a travel day on Monday, it will be Rick Porcello getting the ball in the opener against Jays lefty J.A. Happ. Rogers Centre is certainly more of a launch pad than the Coliseum in Oakland, so maybe the Red Sox bats will wake up a bit this coming week. First pitch for that game on Tuesday is 7:07 PM, back to normal.

RECAP: A’s Lefty Sean Manaea Tosses a No Hitter as #RedSox Win Streak Comes to an End.

Going into the middle of this game of this series, Athletics starter Sean Manaea owned a career 13.50 ERA in three starts against the Red Sox. In 11.1 innings pitched, Manaea has allowed 17 earned runs on 26 hits. Those numbers are far from good.

With those numbers in mind, and the fact that Chris Sale was on the mound for the Red Sox, I was honestly expecting an easy win. Instead, they got no hit for the first time in nearly 25 years.

In a matchup of quality left-handed pitchers, it was Manaea who came up on top. The other guy though, Chris Sale, wasn’t too bad either. While having some struggles early, Sale allowed the Athletics to score three times over seven innings, scattering six hits and one walk over sevn full innings, fanning 10 along the way.

For some reason, the lefty really struggled with the top third of the A’s lineup, specifically leadoff man Marcus Semien. He was the only player in the whole game to touch home plate, and he did it on three separate occasions, including on a solo home run in the fifth. Old friend Jed Lowrie collected his league-leading 23rd RBI of the season as well.

At 110 pitches (72 strikes) through seven innings, Sale’s day came to an end. I would guess he’ll make his next start on Friday, back at home against the Tampa Bay Rays.

The only other pitcher the Red Sox used was Heath Hembree. In his first appearance of the series, Hembree allowed a double and a walk, both with two outs, but got out of the inning unscathed, leaving the Red Sox lineup with one last chance in the ninth.

Unfortunately, that opportunity was not capitalized on by the Red Sox because Sean Manaea was excellent last night. The only mistakes he made were mere walks, which happened on just two occasions. There was some controversy on what was a hit and what wasn’t, like in the sixth inning.

It looked like Andrew Benintendi had just broke up the no-hitter with a dribbler down the first base line for a single. He was initially called safe, but he was later ruled out for running outside of the base path while running towards safe. That took away the hit, and Benintendi was none too pleased about it.

Despite the frustration here, that does not take away from what Manaea did. No hitting one of the best lineups in baseball is no small task, and Manaea needed just 108 pitches to do it. In fact, last night’s game was two hours and 16 minutes, which has to be the quickest game the Red Sox have played in this season. Manaea’s no-no also marks the first from an Athletics pitcher since Dallas Braden tossed a perfect game on Mother’s Day back in 2010.

From here, the Red Sox need to put this loss behind them. Shake it off, move on, and take the series with a win today. David Price will look to build on his successful outing in Anaheim, as he faces off against A’s righty Daniel Mengden. First pitch is at 4:05 PM ET.

 

RECAP: Two Swings of the Bat Is All #RedSox Need to Win Eighth Straight.

After completing the three game sweep of the LA Angels on Thursday night, the Red Sox arrived in Oakland on Friday to take on the 9-10 Athletics, who were coming off a sweep of their own.

Drew Pomeranz was activated from the 10-day disabled list prior to this one, and he had an interesting 2018 debut to say the least. The Athletics got to Pomeranz for three runs in the first, and the lefty needed 45 pitches just to get through the inning. After that though, Pomeranz settled down for a bit. The Mississippi native held the A’s to just three hits, one walk, and no runs. After recording the second out of the fourth inning, Pomeranz was given the hook in favor of Hector Velazquez. Finishing with a total of seven strikeouts, the southpaw needed 88 pitches to get through his first start, 58 of which went for strikes. If things go according to plan, I’d assume Pomeranz will make his next start on Thursday in Toronto.

In relief of Pomeranz, the Red Sox bullpen was fantastic yet again. Hector Velazquez tossed three shutout innings while scattering four hits, he departed with runners on first and second with two outs in the bottom of the seventh.

Brian Johnson would get the call next, and he gave up a single, that quite honestly, should have been caught by Eduardo Nunez, to Matt Olson, the only batter he faced. That loaded the bases and made way for Matt Barnes to get into some game action for the first time since last Sunday.

Facing Matt Joyce with the bases loaded, Barnes definitely created some angst among Red Sox fans watching this game last night. He loaded the count on the first six pitches of the at-bat, but got Joyce to swing and miss on a 94 MPH fastball, ending the inning and preserving the four run lead the Red Sox had.

Barnes went on to collect one more strikeout while tossing a 1-2-3 eighth inning. That made way for Joe Kelly in the ninth, and he too pitched a perfect inning to lock up the win.

Over the last 24.1 innings they have appeared in, the Red Sox bullpen has given up a grand total of one run. To put it into perspective, that’s a 0.37 ERA.

Offensively, like the title reads, the Red Sox lineup only needed two swings of the bat to beat the Athletics in this series opener. The first swing came in the second, after the Red Sox had just gone down by three runs in the bottom of the first, how would they respond? Well, after Rafael Devers and Eduardo Nunez both singled with one out in the inning, Jackie Bradley Jr. took a Kendall Graveman 94 MPH cutter and cleared the bases with his second home run of the season. A 436 foot shot over the wall in right field with a 106 MPH exit velocity.

That tied the game at three. Later on in the sixth, after the top third of the lineup began the inning by loading the bases on three straight singles, Mitch Moreland stayed hot. On the first pitch he saw from A’s reliever Emilio Pagan and cleared the bases once again.

That marks the FIFTH grand slam the Red Sox have hit already in just 19 games. With that slam, that would be all the scoring the Red Sox would need to pick up their 17th win of the season.

Some notes from this one:

Since April 11th, Mitch Moreland has raises his slugging percentage more than .350 points. His OPS now sits at 1.015.

Since April 10th, Jackie Bradley Jr. is slashing .324/.425/.559 in 40 plate appearances. He got off to a slow start, but it’s nice to see JBJ picking things up at the plate lately.

Chris Sale will be making his fifth start of the season later tonight, as he faces off against Athletics ace Sean Manaea. First pitch is the earliest its been since the Red Sox embarked on this road trip, 9:05 PM ET.