Barring a big Game 4 comeback, the Yankees will go into the offseason questioning whether their manager has the necessary feel to run a high-leverage bullpen in the postseason. Be assured, there will be plot twists and tensions your baseball mind can not even imagine. Sure was. Cathartic too.
The final dagger came by way of a 4-3 Red Sox victory on Tuesday night to clinch the American League Division Series four games to one. The eighth belonged to Chris Sale. That bridged the gap to Craig Kimbrel in the ninth. He allowed two runs, the second coming on a deep fly ball by Gary Sanchez that appeared on contact to be a walk-off grand slam and a stroke of absolute devastation for the Red Sox. But the Red Sox escaped one batter later when Gleyber Torres grounded out to Eduardo Nunez at third base.
Last year, it was the Yankees who reached the AL Championship Series before their surprising run ended with a Game 7 loss to the Astros. They won, somehow, and now and again it's left to the Yankees to deal with a winter of what-ifs. It all changed in '04. Nunez's throw almost pulled first baseman Steve Pearce off the bag, but Pearce kept his toe in place and Torres was out by less than a step. "We have a lot of athletic guys who can play a lot of positions".
For the first eight innings, the Yankee bats looked lifeless, managing just four hits and one run on a Brett Gardner sac-fly. Porcello got out of it, but not before an epic nine-pitch duel with Aaron Hicks that felt as if it took about 40 pitches.
In stark contrast to Boone, Red Sox Manager Alex Cora could seemingly do no wrong these past two nights, his every move producing not just the desired result, but something extra. Christian Vazquez was behind the plate for the second straight night after Sandy Leon started the first two games. You know how it worked: Just how Cora wanted it to when he wrote out his lineup card.
Boston, which won an MLB-best 108 games during the regular season, will now meet the defending World Series champion Houston Astros in the American League Championship Series, beginning Saturday at Fenway Park. "I need a home run for the cycle.' I was going to try to hit a home run, but I figured I'd ground out to first".