October 5, 2018

ALDS 1: Red Sox 5, Yankees 4

Yankees   - 000 002 101 - 4 10  0
Red Sox   - 302 000 00x - 5  8  0
Words and pictures from FenFan:

Succinctly, this was a tale of two games, one where the Red Sox jumped to a commanding early lead as Chris Sale kept the Yankees bats dormant, then held on long enough to end the night with a 1-0 lead in the series as the bullpen labored to record outs and the offense all but disappeared... and I enjoyed every minute of it from Bleacher Section 41 of a chilly Fenway Park.

Sale was on his game from the beginning. Though it took 24 pitches to record his first three strikeouts of the night, coupled with a walk to Aaron Hicks, he appeared comfortable on the mound all evening, alleviating almost all doubts about his health and readiness for the October grind. He actually only had one clean inning: the top of the fifth, when he set down Gary Sanchez, Gleyber Torres, and Andrew McCutchen on just nine pitches. However, he never seemed phased by New York base runners and kept the visitors off the scoreboard through those first five frames.

Meanwhile, the Sox quickly opened a lead in the first. After Yankees starter J.A. Happ fanned Mookie Betts to begin the frame, Andrew Benintendi singled to left. Steve Pearce, starting at first base, walked on four pitches. That brought up J.D. Martinez, who after watching two balls inside took Happ's next pitch, also inside and low, and drove it into the Monster Seats. Just like that, Boston had a 3-0 lead and the Fenway faithful, already fired up from the pregame and Sale's performance in the top half of the frame, were feeling good about the home team's chances in this game.

After a quiet one-two-three bottom of the second, the Red Sox struck again in the bottom of the third. With a 3-2 count, Betts doubled to center, his one hit on the night. Benintendi then laid down a surprise bunt; whether it was meant to simply move Mookie to third (as Allan pointed out four days ago, Boston recorded only seven all season), he was able to scamper to first safely. Happ, whom the New York Daily News had stated was "Boston's worst nightmare," was done for the night, lasting just two-plus and giving way to the visitor's bullpen. In came Chad Green, who was rudely greeted by Pearce with an RBI single to left. After a long drive by JDM to right that fell just shy of the bullpen moved Betts to third, Xander Bogaerts lined out of Aaron Judge in right, deep enough to get Benintendi home from third. At the end of three innings, the Red Sox had a 5-0 lead. Things looked good from the home crowd's perspective.

So with the score still 5-0 to begin the top of the sixth, Sale came out to the mound sitting at 83 pitches. Judge greeted him with a clean single to center field. Brett Gardner, who came in for Hicks after the latter left with an apparent injury in the top of the fourth, hit a slow ground ball to Bogaerts, who tossed it to Ian Kinsler covering second; however, the throw to first was too late as Gardner avoided the double play. After a swing and a miss, Giancarlo Stanton got his lone hit of the night, a single to left, and now runners were on first and second with one out. Alex Cora wasted no time coming to the mound and pulling Sale after 93 pitches and calling in Ryan Brasier in relief, and this is where the second game began.

Luke Voit, who had gone on a tear over the final month of the season, jumped on Brasier's first pitch and sent it down the right field line, scoring Gardner from third to put the Yankees on the scoreboard. Didi Gregorius then worked himself out of an early 0-2 hole and hit a ground ball slowly towards the right side of second base. Kinsler shoveled the ball to Bogaerts to get the force out, but again the throw to first was too late to get the speedy Yankee shortstop, and Stanton crossed home plate: 5-2 Yankees with two outs. After a walk to Miguel Andujar put runners at first and second, Cora called in Brandon Workman to get the final out. A four-pitch walk to the weak hitting Sanchez loaded the bases, but Workman clawed his way back from a 3-1 count to Torres to strike him out swinging, mercifully bringing the top of the frame to an end.

After a relatively quiet bottom of the sixth (Jackie Bradley, Jr. walked, but Mookie Betts was called out on strikes, even though strike three was well off the plate), Workman returned to the mound to begin the seventh, but quickly got himself in a hole. After McCutchen singled to left, Judge lifted a fly ball to left, but JBJ got a late jump on the ball and just missed making a diving catch, fortunately keeping the ball from getting past him. Cora then called in Matt Barnes who, after a wild pitch, loaded the bases with a walk to Gardner. Bases loaded and no outs. Here comes Stanton and, at this point, the New York fans in attendance who had spent the first part of the game wallowing in their choice of liquor, suddenly roared to life, smelling blood in the water. Would the wheels fall off right here, proving the pundits correct who had been crowing about Boston's seemingly weak bullpen?

Barnes quickly got ahead of Stanton 0-2, then threw a ball that should have been strike three according to GDGD (as what seems to be the norm, home plate umpire Cory Blaser could not seem to decide what was a ball and what was a strike, and Boston fans relentlessly and appropriately booed him all evening). Unfazed, Barnes threw a curveball that Stanton just fouled off, then got him to chase a ball that was low in the strike zone: one out. Up stepped Voit, who grounded the ball to Eduardo Nunez playing third in lieu of Rafael Devers. Nunez quickly scooped up the ball and fired the ball to second for the force out, but the relay to first was again too late, and New York had cut the lead to just two runs. Barnes now focused in on Gregorius and induced a ground ball to Kinsler, who easily threw to first in time for the third and final out. 5-3 Red Sox at stretch time.

Again, the Sox went quietly again in the bottom of the seventh; in fact, the Boston offense was had all but disappeared at this point. Kinsler had been the last Red Sox base runner to reach second all the way back in the fourth inning, and the local nine had only three hits over the final five frames in which they batted. You could feel the shift in the mood of the home crowd; what had seemed like a sure thing only a couple hours earlier was no longer that. Had Boston done enough, or was New York going to steal a win in the first game of the series?

Concerned about using yet another bullpen arm, Cora decided to call on Rick Porcello, who is currently slated to start Game 3 in New York on Monday, to face the bottom third of the order. Mushroom quickly got the first two batters out, but Torres hit a ball to third that Nunez was unable to get to first in time for the final out. Cora easily could have let Porcello face McCutchen and save Craig Kimbrel for the ninth, but the Boston manager decided that the time was right to bring in his closer for a four-out save. Kimbrel fell into a quick hole; the first pitch, which hugged the bottom of the zone, was called Ball 1, and three pitches later the Yankee batter had a count in his favor at 3-1. But Kimbrel bore down, getting McCutchen to foul off the next pitch before inducing a lazy pop fly to right that Betts easily hauled in for the final out. The Sox quietly went in order in the bottom of the eighth.

Three outs to go, and Judge came to the plate to start the ninth, looking for something juicy to hit. He found it, taking Kimbrel's third pitch and depositing it in the bleachers just over the bullpens, and now it was a one-run ballgame. Yankees fans started buzzing again, and I would imagine the TBS television announcers, who were (thankfully) well out of earshot from my seats in the bleachers, wondered aloud what would be written on Judge's Hall of Fame plaque. As Kimbrel threw Ball 1 to Gardner, Sox fans silently pondered whether the Yankees were about to complete the comeback? Kimbrel would have none of that, however. Gardner struck out swinging on five pitches, Stanton watched three strikes sail past him for his fourth strikeout of the night (a golden sombrero!), and Voit went down swinging. Ball game, Red Sox win.

One win in the books; ten more to go. The wall of photographs in Cora's office continues to expand.

J.A. Happ / Chris Sale
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Pearce, 1B
Martinez, DH
Bogaerts, SS
Núñez, 3B
Kinsler, 2B
León, C
Bradley, CF
Friday, October 5       Yankees at Red Sox, 7:30 PM     J.A. Happ / Chris Sale
Saturday, October 6     Yankees at Red Sox, 8:00 PM     Masahiro Tanaka / David Price
Monday, October 8       Red Sox at Yankees, 7:30 PM     Rick Porcello / Luis Severino
Tuesday, October 9      Red Sox at Yankees, 8:00 PM     Nathan Eovaldi / CC Sabathia
Thursday, October 11    Yankees at Red Sox, 7:30 PM     J.A. Happ / Chris Sale
For almost a century, it was impossible for the Red Sox and Yankees to meet in the postseason. Then, in consecutive years - 2003 and 2004 - the longtime rivals clashed in the ALCS. That was an impossibly tense, anxious, and glorious mega-season spread out over two years, truly the worst of times and the best of times. Now, "thanks" to the Wild Card Game, teams within the same division can face each other in the ALDS. (Maybe radical realignment will one day have the Red Sox and Yankees playing each other in the World Series.)

The biggest question about Alex Cora's ALDS roster focused on the bullpen. Craig Kimbrel, Matt Barnes, Ryan Brasier, and Steven Wright are on the roster, with the final spots occupied by two of these four guys: Joe Kelly, Brandon Workman, Heath Hembree, and Bobby Poyner.

Note: My youngest niece, who went to law school in Boston and took me to my only game at the New Toilet, is getting married this weekend in Syracuse, New York. In my absence, FenFan, a longtime member of the JoS community, will report on the first two games. (He will be at Fenway tonight, so the Game 1 recap may not be posted until Saturday morning.)

There is really not much more to say at this point.

It's Time To Party!


allan said...


We will either be feeling the most delirious joy next week or a crushing disappointment - there is no possible middle ground here.

This will be incredibly intense. Incredibly fun. And incredibly agonizing. This is playoff baseball where every pitch will feel crucial. Every borderline pitch that doesn’t go our way will feel like a knife being stuck in our backs.
We will all be petrified if the Sox go into the 7th inning up 4-3 and in comes Brasier or Wright or Barnes or Whomever. It will be white knuckle time. These games will go 3 1-2 hours and we will all need to be drinking heavily to get through it all.
It’s gping to be epic. Someone upthread said it best: either it will end in total bliss or absolute crushing disappointment. Nothing in between. Simply because it’s the Yankees.
Let’s goooooooooo!!!!

This series is going to be complete torture. We live and die with every out during an important Sox-Yankees series and this will be 10 fold given the shorter series than in '03 and '04. Every inning when the Yankees are at bat will feel like trying to close out a 9th inning.

Give me our lineup any day of the week. Betts and JD are a better combo than Judge/Stanton and we have X and Beni as well.
I think Sale will be fine and I’m not worried about Kimbrel closing out games.
This series is going to hinge on Barnes, Brasier, and Wright out of the pen as well as Price in the rotation. I’m putting my complete faith in Price to get the job done when he takes the mound for game 2. If Sale can do his thing then I’m gonna guess we’ll be in good shape.
Bring these fuckers on.

I am going to have to lock myself in a room with no sharp objects.
I turn 60 on Tuesday (and my son's birthday is Wednesday), and just hoping not to have a heart attack for my birthday - '04 was the best year ever, but it didn't completely erase the memories of '03 or '78.
Go Sox!


Looking at the more recent posts, it sounds like many in the Boston media are glooming and dooming, and acting like we played like the Orioles all year. ... What a surprise. ... Luckily, that doesn't mean shit.

allan said...

McCutchen, LF
Judge, RF
Hicks, CF
Stanton, DH
Voit, 1B
Gregorius, SS
Andujar, 3B
Sanchez, C
Torres, 2B

Chris Sale faced the MFY twice this season and allowed one run over 13 innings and struck out 19 with one walk.

J.A Happ faced the Sox four times this season and allowed five earned runs over 22.2 innings.

Steve Pearce had a 1.448 OPS against the Yankees this season and hit Happ well.

Giancarlo Stanton has hit .486 in nine games at Fenway this season with seven extra-base hits and nine RBIs.

In 11.2 innings against Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman this season, the Red Sox scored 11 runs on 12 hits and eight walks.

Jere said...

Your post kinda ignores the '99 ALCS. Fuck Knoblauch and the umps! Still!

Paul Hickman said...

I liked Tim Neverett's comment about this 1 going from a Lazy River to white water rafting without a helmet .......

It seemed the entire Bullpen forgot how to throw strikes - was like a virus ......

For what it's worth I would have guessed 68 runs & 101 pitches ........ But I'd settle for 268 runs & the way the Bullpen went we might need them !

Paul Hickman said...

Sandy Leon - Man of the Match - his chest protector will need replacing !

allan said...

NY "wins" 10-8 in hits. OB is crushed.

allan said...

Great post. Are you trying to make me look bad? :)

FenFan said...

Hey, I had to ensure that it meet the expected standards of this blog. I thoroughly enjoyed writing that last night and look forward to pulling together the next recap.

FenFan said...

I forgot to add this to my write-up, but I think Allan has posted about this in the past, so I'll just restate another observation from last night. Plus I didn't want the write-up to go TOO long...

Every break between half-innings during the regular season is approximately two minutes and 30 seconds. Now that the post-season is here, it's up to two minutes and 55 second. Of course, when the clock strikes zero, it doesn't always mean the first pitch of that half-inning is being delivered. The longer break also applies during calls to the bullpen during the course of play.

So, by my crude calculations, with 16 breaks between innings and four mid-stream pitching changes last night, that added at least eight minutes and 20 seconds to the game. Maybe that doesn't seem like much, but when MLB operations complains that fans are losing interest because the games are too long, then maybe they should consider keeping the breaks the same length of time, regardless of it being spring training, the regular season, or postseason.

(Hey, cut the breaks down to two minutes and you would have saved an additional ten minutes last night. Are we the only ones who get this? Hello?!)