Red Sox Get Last Laugh, Punch Final Ticket To LCS With Game 4 Win Over Rival Yankees

It certainly was not pretty or the way the Boston Red Sox envisioned it happening, but they came away with a 4-3 victory over their division rival New York Yankees to earn a date with the Houston Astros in the ALCS starting on Saturday. Both teams came into the series having won 100-plus games and finishing one-two in the AL East. The only difference? The Yankees had to win the AL Wild Card Game to ensure they would get to play Boston and Boston they did play.

In a nail-biting Game 1, Chris Sale took on J.A. Happ with early control of the series on the line. Right off the bat, the Sox welcomed Happ to October at Fenway with a three-run shot off the bat of J.D. Martinez to give Boston an early 3-0 lead in the first inning. By the third, they extended that lead to 5-0 with a Steve Pearce single and Xander Bogaerts sacrifice fly with Chad Green relieving Happ although the runs were charged to the starter. But the Yankees would fight back, chipping away slowly to get the deficit down to 5-3 by the end of the seventh. On multiple occasions, New York had runners in scoring position against a shaky Boston bullpen but were unable to get that big hit that brought them back into the game. It would ultimately come back to bite them in the behind as the Yankees dropped Game 1, 5-4, going 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position on the evening.

However, they would respond in Game 2 with a fantastic pitching performance by starter Masahiro Tanaka and big day at the plate by Gary Sanchez. The Red Sox trotted out David Price who is notorious for poor pitching in the postseason and being roughed up by the Yankees. Sure enough, New York got to Price early with solo home runs by Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge along with an RBI single by Andrew McCutchen which put an end to Price's day after just 1 2/3 innings. On the other side, Tanaka went a strong five innings, giving up one run on a Bogaerts solo shot on three hits, striking out four, and walking one batter. He would exit the game with a 3-1 lead in hand, certainly a quality performance given what the Yankees got a night ago with Happ. Boston's bullpen held for most of the night to give the Red Sox a chance to get back into it, but Gary Sanchez dealt the final blow with a three-run home run off Eduardo Rodriguez to put the Yankees in front 6-1 in the seventh inning. That would be all the pitching would need as New York knotted the series up at one with a 6-2 victory in Game 2.

Headed back home for Game 3, the Yankees had to be feeling good about their chances in the series considering the team had not lost at home in the postseason since their 2015 Wild Card Game loss to the Houston Astros. However, that would all change as the Red Sox jumped all over Luis Severino for three runs over the course of the second and third inning to go up 3-0. In a questionable move, manager Aaron Boone allowed Severino to start the fourth inning in which he loaded up the bases before being pulled and Lance Lynn was brought in to try limiting the damage. Limit the damage he would not, Lynn walked Mookie Betts on four pitches and then gave up a bases clearing double to Andrew Benintendi to cap Severino's line for the evening. All in all, the starter would last three innings, giving up six runs on seven hits, striking out two, and walking two. Nathan Eovaldi dominated the Yankees, limiting them to one run on five hits, striking out five, and walking nobody. Brock Holt finished the game 4-for-6 with 5 RBIs and the cycle, the first cycle in postseason history as the Red Sox crushed the Yankees, 16-1, to move within one game of the ALCS.

Then the knockout blow came last night as Rick Porcello took the mound to face the veteran CC Sabathia who was looking to force a Game 5 back in Boston on Thursday. Sabathia would work out of a bases loaded jam in the first and a two-out walk in the second before things got rough for the left-hander. With runners on the corners, the Sox drew first blood with a sacrifice fly by J.D. Martinez before Ian Kinsler doubled and Steve Pearce singled to put Boston in front, 3-0, and end Sabathia's outing upon completion of the inning. Christian Vazquez would tack onto the Boston lead with a solo shot off reliever Zach Britton to push the Red Sox to four runs on the evening, the number it would stay at as the Yankee bullpen silenced the Boston bats the rest of the way. Although they got some solid contact off of Rick Porcello, the New York offense could only manufacture one run over the course of his five innings. Things stayed quiet until the ninth inning when Aaron Judge reached on a walk and Didi Gregorius knocked a single to right off of closer Craig Kimbrel to start the inning. Following a strikeout by Giancarlo Stanton, Luke Voit walked, and Neil Walker got hit by a pitch to score a run and bring the Yankees within two, 4-2. With the bases still loaded, Gary Sanchez hit a deep fly ball to right that came within feet of leaving the ballpark as he would settle for a sacrifice fly to cut the deficit to one with two outs in the inning. Gleyber Torres was the last hope for the Yankees, and Kimbrel was able to force him to weakly ground out to Eduardo Nunez who threw to first for the final out on a nice scoop by Steve Pearce, giving the Red Sox a 4-3 win and a trip to the ALCS.

Now a rematch from the 2017 ALDS with the Houston Astros awaits this Red Sox team. Last year, Houston dominated Boston in four games with dominant pitching and a hot offense. They come into this series boasting an even deeper starting rotation as well as hot bats after a series with the Indians, making the task at hand for the Red Sox that much harder. The Boston bullpen has faltered frequently this season, and they will have to come up big like they did at times against the Yankees if the Red Sox want to continue their quest for a World Series title.

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