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.

chart (7).png

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.

Advertisements

RECAP: Steve Pearce Launches Three Homers and Drives in Six Runs as #RedSox Steamroll over Yankees in 15-7 Series Opening Win.

In an exciting game that had just about everything a baseball fan could ask for on Thursday night, it was the Red Sox, despite a rather slow start, who had their way with the New York Yankees in the first game of a four-game weekend series.

Yes, the early performances from Brian Johnson and Boston’s lineup would lead you to believe the Red Sox would have to fight their way to a potential win last night, but an eight run fourth inning really turned this game on its head.

Speaking of Johnson, the lefty made his first career start against the Yankees on Thursday, as he filled in for Chris Sale, who is currently on the 10-day disabled list.

Pitching five full innings, Johnson was certainly not at his best in his seventh start of the season, but he didn’t need to be.

Starting right away in the top of the first, the Florida native allowed the first three batters he faced, including a three-run blast off the bat of Didi Gregorius to put the Yankees up 3-0 early.

An inning later, another home run, this one coming from Aaron Hicks with two outs in the second, tacked on another run to New York’s lead, and the Red Sox found themselves trailing by four before they even took their second set of at bats.

Fortunately, Johnson settled down a bit from that point up until the middle of the fifth when he served up another homer to Gregorius to lead off the inning. By the time that happened though, the Red Sox had already jumped up to a 10-4 lead, so it’s not like it had that big of an impact on the final result.

Able to pick up his first winning decision since April 2nd, the 27 year-old hurler ended his so-so night by striking out the final three batters he faced to up his total to 11 on the night, setting a new career-high with that mark.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 104 (65 strikes), Johnson relied on his four-seam fastball 45 times last night, and topped out at 91.4 MPH with it on his 87th pitch of the game.

If Sale is able to make his next start in Toronto next week, I can’t imagine there would be a reason to keep Johnson in the rotation. We’ll have to wait and see on that.

Anyway, in relief of Johnson, the Red Sox bullpen began their night with a six run lead to protect in the sixth.

Brandon Workman made his first appearance with the big league club since being recalled from Triple A Pawtucket on Tuesday, and he surrendered a Giancarlo Stanton mammoth shot of a solo home run in what was an otherwise clean two innings of work. He also received some help from Ian Kinsler with two fantastic plays at second in the seventh.

Joe Kelly was next up in the eighth, and although his old friend Tyler Austin was nowhere to be found, the righty reliever looked decently dominant in an eight pitch 1-2-3 frame of work.

Finally, Ryan Brasier came on to close this thing out, and despite trimming the Yankees deficit to eight runs, managed to hold on to record the final out of the night and secure his team’s 76th win of the season.

On the other side of things, where do I even begin? Holy moly, what a night it was for just about everyone who swung a bat for the Red Sox on Thursday.

Facing off against an opponent they usually struggle against in the Yankees’ CC Sabathia, Mookie Betts, who entered last night in a 10/48 skid since the All-Star break, got the scoring started for Boston by drawing a two out bases loaded walk in the second to cut New York’s lead down to three.

In the third, Steve Pearce pulled his team a little closer by blasting his first of three home runs on the night in what would end up being Sabathia’s final frame after he had already walked four batters in a rather short period of time.

Big mistake there by Aaron Boone and the Yankees, because my god, did the Red Sox lineup go off in the fourth.

Before an out could even be recorded by Yanks reliever Jonathan Holder, Boston sent seven men to the plate, which resulted in a brand new 8-4 lead and one hell of a play at home courtesy of Jackie Bradley Jr. on an Andrew Benintendi fielder’s choice.

Steve Pearce’s second home run of the night, a three-run shot, was part of this barrage as well.

Once Chad Green came in for Holder, who, again, failed to record a single out, more RBI knocks from Jackie Bradley Jr. and Andrew Benintendi scored the seventh and eighth runs in what will more than likely go down as the most exciting inning of the season.

Over the next two innings, an RBI double from Ian Kinsler in the fifth put the Red Sox up 11-5, and in the sixth, another RBI two bagger off the bat of Andrew Benintendi increased the Red Sox lead to 12-5.

One batter later, Steve Pearce put the exclamation point on his incredible night by mashing his third big fly of the game off of Luis Cessa to complete the hat trick and put his team’s 14th and final run of the contest on the board. Here are all three homers in one convenient video.

In total, Red Sox hitters reached base 25 times on Thursday, which resulted in a season-high tying 15 runs crossing the plate. The team also hit .375 (9/24) with runners in scoring position.

Some other notes from this win:

Injury related: Blake Swihart would have to leave this game with right hamstring tightness in the sixth inning. He has been ruled day-to-day.

Mookie Betts broke out of his little slump in a big way last night, as he reached base SIX times by himself in six tries.

In his first taste of the rivalry, Ian Kinsler went 3/6 with two RBI and two defensive gems at second base.

Steve Pearce, in 59 career games against the Yankees, is slashing .294/.385/.586 with 13 HR and 29 RBI, which are the most he has against any individual team.

From @SoxNotes: Steve Pearce is the 3rd Red Sox player ever to hit 3 HR in a game against the Yankees, joining Kevin Millar (7/23/2004) and Mo Vaughn (5/30/1997).

Another one from @SoxNotes: The Red Sox are 6.5 games ahead of the Yankees, their largest lead in the AL East since September 2013.

The Sox are 20-5 in their last 25 games. They lead the majors in win % (.691, 76-34), runs per game (5.34), stolen bases (86), AVG (.270), and OPS (.796).

Having won the series opener in convincing fashion, the Yankees and Red Sox will be back it at later tonight in a pitching matchup featuring two different types of right-handers.

For the Yankees, it will be Luis Severino, a power arm, and for the Red Sox, Rick Porcello, who relies less on his velocity, gets the nod for game two.

Despite the ace status, Severino has had his fair share of struggles lately, as he owns a 8.84 ERA in his last four outings for New York.

Rick Porcello, who has posted a 3.31 ERA in 20 career starts against the Yankees, is coming off an appearance in which he surrendered four earned runs in less than six innings pitched against the Minnesota Twins on July 28th.

Not expecting another blowout in this one, but it should still be an entertaining night regardless. First pitch of the second game is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET Friday.

 

RECAP: #RedSox Held to One Run by CC Sabathia as Yankees Win Big in Series Opener.

Entering Friday with sole possession of first place in the American League East, the Red Sox had a big task at hand in the form of a three game weekend series against the New York Yankees. While splitting the season series thus far at 3-3, this particular series, although relatively early in the year, could prove to be quite meaningful for the division race later in September.

Making his 16th start of the season on Friday night, Eduardo Rodriguez was not as effective as he was in his only other appearance against the Yankees this season. In that start, back on May 10th, New York was held scoreless in the five innings the lefty pitched in.

Last night though, although he did pitch deeper into the game, Rodriguez got rocked for five runs on seven hits and two walks while only recording two strikeouts.

Things began to go awry for the Venezuela native starting in the bottom half of the second inning, when Yankees rookie second baseman Gleyber Torres ripped a hard-hit triple to lead off the frame.

That was followed by an RBI single off the bat of another Yankees rookie in Miguel Andujar, and just like that, the Yankees had a one run lead which they would not have to look back from.

After tossing a scoreless third, the fourth inning is where Rodriguez struggled the most. In fact, the southpaw needed 30 pitches to get through the frame in which he surrendered four runs, highlighted by back-to-back homers from Andujar and then Greg Bird.

From that point on, Rodriguez did hold the Yankees scoreless while retiring six of the seven batters he faced to end an otherwise disappointing night.

Over his last two outings, the 25-year-old hurler’s ERA has inflated from 3.59 after his start in Seattle, all the way up to 4.11 after his performance on Friday. He’ll look to get back on the winning side in his next time out, which is more than likely to come against the Washington Nationals on Independence Day.

In relief of Rodriguez, the Red Sox only turned to one relief pitcher in this one, and that was Justin Haley. Given the fact they were already trailing by four runs by the time Haley entered in the seventh inning, it makes sense that Alex Cora would want to save the rest of his bullpen for the remaining two games of this series.

In the two innings he pitched in, Haley got hit decently hard. First, Aaron Judge, a college teammate of Haley’s, blasted a two-run home run for his 21st of the season in the seventh. And in the eighth, Greg Bird struck once again for his second homer of the night to essentially put this game out of reach if it was not already at 8-1.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was limited to just one run thanks to Yankees starter CC Sabathia.

In his only other start against Boston this season on May 10th, Sabathia surrendered four runs on nine hits in a rain-shortened four innings of work. That was not the case last night.

Nope, the 18 year veteran lefty gave up one run in the fifth inning, which is all the damage the Red Sox could do in this one.

That run came on an Andrew Benintendi RBI double to score Mookie Betts from second, in case you were interested. Other than that, guys like JD Martinez, Xander Bogaerts, and Rafael Devers were all held without a single hit.

On the bright side things, newly acquired Steve Pearce made his Red Sox debut at first base last night, and in his very first at bat with his new team, ripped a leadoff double on the first pitch he saw from Sabathia in the second inning.

The former Blue Jay also collected his second hit of the night later on in the fourth, so recording a multi-hit game in your first game with a new team is not too shabby, I guess.

Heading into tonight’s contest now in a deadlock atop the AL East, Chris Sale will be given the responsibility of trying to lead the Red Sox to just their second win at Yankee Stadium this year. He’ll be matched up against Yankees righty Sonny Gray, who in his only other start against the Red Sox this season, gave up six earned runs in just three innings pitched back on April 12th.

First pitch of the middle game is scheduled for 7:15 PM ET on FOX. Time to even this series up.

RECAP: JD Martinez’s Clutch Home Run Leads #RedSox to Win over Yankees in Series Finale.

Going into the series finale on Thursday night, a win for the Red Sox was almost vital. The difference between leaving New York tied for first place in the AL East and trailing by two games is huge. The good thing is, they locked down the get away day win, but it was a rocky road getting there.

Eduardo Rodriguez got the start in this one, and he was coming off a performance in Texas where he gave up three home runs. Fortunately, he put together a much better outing in the Bronx last night. In five rain-interrupted innings, the lefty surrendered zero runs on just one hit and three walks while fanning eight. Other than the fourth inning, there was really no point in the game where it looked like Rodriguez was struggling. From the first to the third, he faced 10 batters and struck out half of them. After that, things got a little shaky for the native of Venezuela in the bottom half of the fourth. A leadoff walk to Aaron Judge, a single to Giancarlo Stanton, the Yankees first hit of the night, and another walk to Gary Sanchez loaded the bases with only one out in the inning. With a three run lead to protect, it was looking like the Yankees were about to stage another comeback. That still happened, but not with Rodriguez on the mound, as the 25-year-old retired the next two batters he faced to get out of the fourth unscathed.

In between the conclusion of the fourth inning and the middle of the fifth, there was a 55 minute rain delay, which ultimately ended Yankees starter CC Sabathia’s day, but not Rodriguez’s. He came back out for the fifth inning and wrapped his stellar night up by collecting two more K’s and getting Brett Gardner to ground out to short to conclude things in the fifth. It’s a shame he couldn’t go any further, but with a pitch count of 95 (53 strikes) and that previously mentioned weather delay, I can understand why Alex Cora went with a fresh arm for the sixth.

That fresh arm just so happened to be Matt Barnes, coming off one of his worst outings of the season on Wednesday night. Those struggles would not continue though, as the righty tossed a scoreless frame despite walking the first batter he saw. Next up out of the ‘pen was Heath Hembree for the seventh inning, and that’s where things started to momentarily fall apart for the Red Sox once again.

After getting Tyler Austin to fly out to right to begin the inning, Hembree surrendered two hits and a walk to the next three batters he faced. That loaded the bases up with just one out, and that was all the action Hembree saw. In the month of May, the righty out of South Carolina owns an ERA north of 11 in four innings of work. Not great.

Having already dealt with a bases loaded jam in this series, Joe Kelly was next out of the bullpen. Things did not get off the best of starts for the Red Sox flamethrower, as he walked in a run on four pitches and gave up a one-run single in two consecutive at bats. After that, the Yankees tacked on another two runs before Kelly retired the side, thus tying the game at four runs a piece.

With the Red Sox taking the lead back on a JD Martinez home run in the top of the eighth, Alex Cora decided to stick with Kelly for another inning of work. Again, he was not at his sharpest, as he allowed the tying run to reach second base at one point, but came through in the end. Facing off against Neil Walker with runners on first and second and two outs, Kelly needed six pitches to record his second and final strikeout of the night, while stranding the tying and go-ahead runs in the process. The California native was credited with a blown save and his second win of the season thanks to his efforts.

Since Kelly protected the one run lead in the eighth inning, that paved the way for Craig Kimbrel coming in for a clean ninth. There has been plenty of tak about when it is most ideal to use the Red Sox closer, but I think it’s safe to say that he prefers working in the ninth. Compared to Wednesday night, Kimbrel looked like a different guy on the mound. He tossed a perfect frame while also recording his 24th strikeout this season. With save number 10 on the year, Kimbrel locked down the get away day win for the Red Sox, ensuring that they leave New York with a share of the division lead in the AL East.

Offensively, the Red Sox lineup was not at a disadvantage with 18-year veteran CC Sabathia on the mound for the Yankees. In fact, they reached base nine times off of him in only four innings. Mookie Betts set the tone right away with a leadoff double to right field to start the game. Two batters later, Hanley Ramirez got his impressive day at the plate started with an RBI ground out to short. That allowed Betts, who had moved up to third, to score easily and give the Red Sox their first run of the game.

Fast forward to the third, and Hanley Ramirez is in the thick of things once again. After two straight hits from Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi to lead off the inning put runners on second and third, Ramirez notched his second of three RBIs on the night on a single to shallow right field that Gleyber Torres could do nothing with. That allowed Betts to score from third and allowed Benintendi to advance to third himself. JD Martinez wrapped up the scoring in the top of the third, as he drove in Benintendi from third on a hard hit RBI force out that could easily have been a double play if Gleyber Torres held on to the ball.

Later on in the fifth, Hanley Ramirez led things off by putting the fourth run of the game for the Red Sox on the board with his fifth big fly of the season.

That 412 foot shot to left field came just in the nick of time for the Red Sox, as the game was delayed due to rain one pitch into the next at bat.

After a 55 minute delay and a Yankees rally in the bottom of the seventh, it seemed as if the Red Sox were destined to blow another late lead. Fortunately for them, JD Martinez did not allow that to happen. With Dellin Betances on the mound for his second frame of work, the Red Sox outfielder took a 97 MPH fastball on the inside edge of the plate and launched it 350 feet into the opposite field.

A vintage JD Martinez home run, his ninth of the season, put the Red Sox on top 5-4 and they would not have to look back. His only hit of the game turned out to be the most important one. What a guy.

Some notes from this one:

After a three-hit performance last night, Mookie Betts leads all of baseball in several offensive categories. Those being Batting Average (.361), Slugging Percentage (.803), OPS (1.244), Total Bases (98), Home Runs (13), and Extra Base Hits (27). All of this and he’s batting leadoff. Incredible.

With his ninth home run of the season last night, JD Martinez has now recorded a hit in 11 straight games. Over that stretch, the Miami native is slashing an outlandish .444/.490/.778 in 49 Plate Appearances.

For the first time this season, Hanley Ramirez has homered in back-to-back games. That happening after going 19 games in between his second and third long balls of the season. So maybe he’s about to heat up.

Next up for the Red Sox is the last leg of this road trip in Toronto. Last time they were up north, the Red Sox came away with the series win. Chris Sale gets the ball in the series opener, he’ll be matched up against righty Aaron Sanchez for Toronto. David Price is also scheduled to pitch on Saturday in this three-game set. First pitch tonight is set for 7:07 PM ET. Happy Sale Day.