Anthony Rizzo gets Yankees on board, 3-1.
The mid-season acquisition squared up on a curveball and sent it into the right field seats.
Luis Severino, the one-time ace of the Yankees who is still working his way back to full-strength after a series of injuries, came on in relief of Clay Holmes to start the fifth. He retired Christian Arroyo quickly on a groundout to second and fought through a six-pitch at-bat by Kyle Schwarber that ended in a groundout to first.
With two down and Enrique Hernandez at the plate, Severino got ahead in the count, 0-2, and then ended things by getting Hernandez to fly out to right. So far, the Yankees’ bullpen has done an excellent job of settling things down following Gerrit Cole’s rough start.
Reporting from Fenway Park
This is only Luis Severino’s fifth appearance of 2021. He returned to the major leagues in late September after undergoing Tommy John surgery in spring of 2020 and enduring setbacks. A two-time All Star as a starting pitcher, the Yankees have eased Severino back into action in the bullpen.
Which one of tonight’s starters is the $324 million ace?
Eovaldi struck out Brett Gardner on six pitches, ending his second at-bat with a 97-m.p.h. fastball. He got Gio Urshela to fly out to left on the first pitch he saw. He then struck out Kyle Higashioka on four pitches to end the inning. That is 10 straight batters retired by Eovaldi, who is up to seven strikeouts.
With Clay Holmes back on the mound after his third inning heroics, the Yankees tried to get strategic against Hunter Renfroe by utilizing a shift. Boston’s right fielder made them pay for that strategy (temporarily) by poking a single into right. But just as he had done the previous inning, Holmes calmly induced a double-play, with Kevin Plawecki and Renfroe being retired 4-6-3.
With the bases empty for Bobby Dalbec, Boston’s first baseman ended things quietly by flying out to right field on the second pitch he saw.
The Red Sox signed Jose Iglesias in September and he hit .356 for them and was a very useful second baseman. But because he joined the team after Aug. 31, he was not eligible for the postseason. Alex Cora said that Iglesias would remain with the club as long as they remain alive, even though he cannot play, so there was some question about what he would do. So far he is pushing the home run hitters through the dugout in Boston’s laundry-hamper celebrations
Nathan Eovaldi got his fifth strikeout of the night by hurling a 100-m.p.h. four-seamer past Giancarlo Stanton’s mighty bat. He then retired Joey Gallo and Gleyber Torres on fly balls to center field. He has now retired seven straight batters.
This is not looking like it was a good night for the Yankees to hand Eovaldi an early 3-0 lead.
We told the Yankees to watch out for Kyle Schwarber! Boston’s designated hitter absolutely demolished a 97-m.p.h. fastball from Gerrit Cole to lead off the half-inning, giving Boston a 3-0 lead. It just so happens that Schwarber had done the same thing the last time he had faced Cole in a wild-card game, back in the 2015 National League game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Chicago Cubs.
A single by Enrique Hernandez and a walk to Rafael Devers was all Manager Aaron Boone needed to see, and he pulled his ace out of the game after 50 pitches and two-plus innings.
Clay Holmes came on in relief of Cole, with two men on base and no outs, and he bailed out the team’s ace in a big way, striking out Xander Bogaerts and then getting Alex Verdugo to ground into a double-play to end the inning.
Reporting from Fenway Park
Gerrit Cole, the Yankees’ ace and $324 million man, is out of the game, a stunning turn of events for the Yankees. He allowed three runs on two home runs, including a third-inning solo blast by Kyle Schwarber, who admired his handiwork as it sailed past the right field fence. Cole then coughed up a single and a walk, and was hooked by Manager Aaron Boone. He strolled to the Yankees’ dugout with his head down. Clay Holmes is now in the game, and the Yankees are in a bind.
Reporting from Fenway Park
A lot is made of Gerrit Cole’s transformation to an ace in Houston and New York, but he was excellent for Pittsburgh in 2015: 19-8 with a 2.60 E.R.A. The Pirates handed him the ball for their wild-card game … and it turned out a lot like this start, so far. Facing the Cubs that night, Cole gave up a third-inning homer to Kyle Schwarber, just like he did tonight. But Cole worked 5 innings that night, and now he’s gone with nobody out in the third.
Kyle Schwarber’s homer has Boston up, 3-0.
Boston’s leadoff batter crushed a ball off Gerrit Cole, something he’s been known to do.
Andrew Velazquez’s first postseason at-bat lasted all of one pitch when he flied out to left on a 98-m.p.h. fastball. Anthony Rizzo managed to get Nathan Eovaldi to throw him nine pitches, but struck out on a four-seam fastball that he was woefully late on.
That brought up Aaron Judge, who mimicked Velazquez by flying out to center on the first pitch he saw, giving Eovaldi the unusual 1-9-1 11-pitch inning.
Big pitchers get big strikeouts. Gerrit Cole recorded his first of the game by throwing a knuckle-curve past Hunter Renfroe for strike three to start the half-inning. That good feeling was briefly set aside when Kevin Plawecki (a guy in the game for his defense behind the plate) smacked a 2-2 fastball into center for a double that just nicked the bottom of the wall.
Bobby Dalbec, who came up to chants of his name from the crowd at Fenway, managed to draw six pitches out of Cole before watching the seventh, a slider, sail past him for strike three. Cole then got his third strikeout of the inning by throwing a 99-m.p.h. fastball past a swinging Christian Arroyo.
So he may be an inning late, but the Yankees’ ace has arrived.
Reporting from Fenway Park
Gerrit Cole, who is getting chants of “Geeeeerit! Geeeeerit!” from the Fenway Park crowd, doesn’t have particularly sharp command so far against the Red Sox. He has been missing over the heart of the plate too often, including on that first-inning homer by Xander Bogaerts and second-inning double by Kevin Plawecki. Cole left a Sept. 7 start early with hamstring tightness and returned to the mound a week later. Even though he had a rough end to the season — a 5.13 earned run average in September — he has insisted his hamstring was “good,” including again on Monday when speaking with reporters.
Reporting from Fenway Park
That was the first postseason at-bat for Red Sox catcher Kevin Plawecki, and he drilled a double off the wall in deep right-center. Good for him; the poor guy was active for the Mets throughout their run to the 2015 World Series, as the backup to Travis d’Arnaud, but he never got to play in a game.
In a six-pitch at-bat, Gleyber Torres saw four pitches that were 98 miles an hour or faster. He eventually lined out to Boston right fielder Hunter Renfroe. Brett Gardner saw a 100-m.p.h. fastball in a five-pitch at-bat, but struck out on an 80-m.p.h curve. And after Gio Urshela beat out an infield single (so much for his hurt thigh!) Eovaldi took care of business with a five-pitch strikeout of Kyle Higashioka that ended with the backup catcher failing to check his swing on a great curveball.
Eovaldi definitely has good stuff tonight.
Reporting from Fenway Park
OK, can I rant here about the Red Sox’ red jerseys? Their primary home uniform is supposed to be their famous, pristine white jersey. How many times did they wear it this season? 35. They wore their red “alternate” jerseys 37 times, which would seem to mean they’re not actually the “alternate.” Anyway, they’re wearing the red tonight, which is a shame — but at least it’s not the canary-yellow “City Connect” jersey. For the record, the Red Sox had a .611 winning percentage in the reds, a .556 winning percentage in the regular whites … and a .750 mark in the yellows.
Gerrit Cole has put himself in a hole.
Kyle Schwarber started off the bottom of the first with a long out to center and Enrique Hernandez popped out to second on the second pitch he saw from Cole. That brought up Rafael Devers, who broke out in a huge way for Boston this season. Cole got ahead with a 1-2 count, and showed a little old-school flair by backing Devers off the plate with a 99 mile-per-hour fastball. But Cole then missed with two pitches to issue a walk. That was a big mistake.
Xander Bogaerts came up fourth and made Cole pay for the walk. With a 2-1 count, Cole threw an 89-m.p.h. changeup and Bogaerts drove it over the fence in center for a two-run homer and a 2-0 lead. Cole recovered to retire Alex Verdugo on a pop fly to second, but the damage was done.
The home run was clocked at 108 miles per hour, the third-hardest hit ball of the year by Bogaerts.
Xander Bogaerts was slumping heading into the wild-card game, with only five extra-base hits in the months of September and October.
Bogaerts gives Boston a 2-0 lead.
A two-out home run to center field made Gerrit Cole pay for a walk.
When the Red Sox acquired Kyle Schwarber from Washington on July 29, Red Sox fans grumbled that they got the consolation prize, mainly because they didn’t get Anthony Rizzo. That feeling was exacerbated after Rizzo hit three home runs and batted .400 in his first six games as a Yankee after coming over from the Cubs, while Schwarber was hurt and didn’t play for the first two weeks after the trade deadline.
Since then, Schwarber has been one of the most impactful offensive players moved at the deadline, as good as an M.V.P. candidate during that same span.
Since his first game with the Red Sox on Aug. 13, Schwarber has 10 doubles, seven homers and 18 runs batted in and his on-base plus slugging percentage is .957. That is one percentage point higher than the figure posted by Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr. over the same time period. Granted, Guerrero had a 1.002 O.P.S. during the entire season, and is a better player. But for the last six weeks of the season, Schwarber has been better than expected for Boston.
Red Sox starter Nathan Eovaldi needed only one pitch to retire the Yankees’ leadoff man, Anthony Rizzo, on a grounder to first. He needed two to get Aaron Judge out on a fly ball to right. Giancarlo Stanton struck fear into the hearts of the Boston faithful with a monstrous blast off the Green Monster for what ended up being a very impressive single. But Eovaldi was able to get out of the inning by striking out Joey Gallo in a hard-fought six-pitch at-bat.
The wild-card game is officially underway with Nathan Eovaldi using a 99-mile-per-hour fastball to get Anthony Rizzo to ground out to first base. In three hours or so, one of these teams will have its season end.
Reporting from Fenway Park
As a group of Yankees, including star outfielder Aaron Judge, walked off the field at Fenway Park during batting practice, Red Sox fans booed. Unfazed, Judge and his teammates kept on moving but they surely noticed. A pregame chant of “Let’s go Yankees!” was also drowned out.
BOSTON — There are relatively few surprises in tonight’s starting lineups. Gio Urshela, who came up limping after a sensational catch in the Yankees’ final game of the season against Tampa Bay, has recovered well from his bruised thigh and is starting at third base. Andrew Velazquez, the team’s Bronx-born fan favorite, is at shortstop. Rougned Odor, who found his way into a lot of great moments this season, will come off the bench, as will Gary Sanchez, who is sitting in favor of Gerrit Cole’s personal catcher, Kyle Higashioka.
“He’s living the dream playing for his hometown team,” Yankees Manager Aaron Boone said of Velazquez.
BOSTON — The wild-card game is not fair. Long live the wild-card game.
Those might be contradictory opinions, but it all depends on your perspective. If you’re a player, you hate it. If you’re a viewer, you love it.
“Is it fair? No, it’s not fair,” Curtis Granderson, the former major league outfielder, said on Tuesday. “Is it fun? Absolutely.”
The Yankees and the Boston Red Sox were scheduled to play the American League wild-card game at Fenway Park on Tuesday, followed on Wednesday by the National League game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the St. Louis Cardinals at Dodger Stadium. The winner of each advances to a division series, meaning that the Dodgers are already facing elimination despite tying their franchise record for victories with 106.
The reason is a quirk: As great as the Dodgers were, they played in the same division as the San Francisco Giants, who were one game better. The Cardinals needed only 90 victories to share the stage.
“If I’m playing on a team that just won 100 games, I want to have the right to be out there and kind of stretch my chances for at least three games — not just one and done,” said the Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez, who will analyze the playoffs for TBS with Granderson and Jimmy Rollins. “The efforts of my entire team, my entire organization, going down the drain by losing one game? One little mistake?”
It would be fair to say Dee Strange-Gordon is a little biased toward his good friend and former Miami Marlins teammate Giancarlo Stanton, and he positively rhapsodized during a phone conversation last month, reminiscing about their time in 2017 when Stanton won the National League’s Most Valuable Player Award.
“It was special, man,” Strange-Gordon said at the start of September, recalling how when Stanton’s hot, “he can carry a club himself.”
Stanton has had some help lately, of course, especially from Aaron Judge, but as the Yankees head into the wild-card game, the 6-foot-6 Stanton has happily put the club on his massive shoulders.
Strange-Gordon described how Stanton, at his best, morphs into a mode where he is hitting angry. At the time, Stanton had homered in eight of his past 18 games. That hot streak didn’t stop: Stanton finished the season with seven more homers in his last 15 games. His 17 homers since Aug. 17 are tied with Toronto’s Marcus Semien for the second-most in the majors. Only Kansas City’s Salvador Perez (18) had more.
Stanton chuckled when Strange-Gordon’s comment was relayed to him, and acknowledged that his friend was right.
“It’s where’s the level of your mind and body that day and you try to re-create that wave length of that balance of focus and preparation,” he explained.
“Ideally, every day you try to work to that mode,” Stanton said. “Sometimes you could be there and the results won’t show. You have to know when to make adjustments and when not, that’s why the game is so difficult in that way.”
When Stanton is “hitting angry,” where does he direct that anger? At the world? The pitcher? The ball?
“It isn’t anything personal,” Stanton said, noting that it mainly means he forgets all distractions. “The more distractions, the faster that little seamed ball comes at you.”
It is impossible to approach a do-or-die game between the Yankees and the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park without thinking of Bucky Dent’s heroics in a tiebreaker game in 1978. The win in a 163rd regular season game catapulted the Yankees to the postseason and a World Series title. It furthered despair among Red Sox fans to the point that Dent earned himself an unprintable nickname throughout New England.
In interviews with Dent and Ron Guidry, the Yankees’ starting pitcher in that 1978 game, Gary Phillips got some tips on how to win a game like this.
When asked how the Yankees could get past the Boston Red Sox in a wild-card game that could extend or end a season that has had countless ups and downs, Bucky Dent had some tongue-in-cheek advice: “Use Mickey Rivers’s bat.”
That move worked for Dent 43 years ago; who’s to say it wouldn’t for a Yankee on Tuesday night?