How the Red Sox Beat the Yankees and Why I’m in Pain
Recap of the AL Wild Card Game between the Yankees and Red Sox from a die-hard Yankees fan
Throw objective journalism out the window for this one. Here’s how I was feeling at the beginning of the day.
I’ve been a Yankee fan my entire life. I was born in Staten Island, NY but grew up in Santa Barbara, CA, surrounded by Dodger and Angel fans while I was the lone New Yorker. I was lucky enough to work for the team in various departments over two seasons. This loss hit hard for me, even though I knew deep down that this team didn’t have it this year. No matter the additions, it seemed like this team never had a chance, and it showed on Tuesday night in Fenway.
It’s the first inning, and the Yankees are jumping on the first pitch. The lead-off hitter, Anthony Rizzo, crushed a first-pitch fastball straight into the ground for the first out. Aaron Judge followed the plan, swinging at the at-bat’s second pitch, which produced a lazy fly-out. Stanton swung at the second pitch, taking a moment to watch the ball bounce up off the Green Monster, resulting in a single. Joey Gallo swung at four of the six pitches he saw for a strikeout to end the top half of the first inning. The Yankees must have thought the Red Sox would pull Eovaldi early, so extending his pitch count wasn’t a necessity.
The second half of the first inning was an instant disaster. Gerrit Cole looked fine through the first two batters, getting Schwarber to fly out and Hernandez to pop out to second. Cole’s strike zone command was off during those two at-bats, which resulted in a walk for Rafael Devers. Xander Bogaerts hit a hanging changeup 427 feet to center field, and the game was over after that as the Red Sox took an early 2-0 lead. Cole ultimately got lucky with some fastballs at the top of the zone that produced pop-ups. Eovaldi seemed to have a plan; I’m not sure what Cole’s was.
The second inning led off with a great at-bat by Gleyber Torres, who has been excellent since he moved to second base. He didn’t record a hit in this game, but he hit four balls hard, which is all you can ask for. The aggressive approach continued as Gardner and Higashioka struck out, and Urshela reached on a swinging bunt. Alex Rodriguez mentioned during the broadcast that the Yankees were 3-7 this year when they recorded zero walks, as the aggressive approach was evident from first-pitch. The Yankees abandoned the patient approach that was the backbone of this offense. For this team to score, they need players on base to amplify the home runs. Without runners on base, a solo home-run doesn’t do much for a team already down for the count.
Give credit where credit is due, Nathan Eovaldi looked fantastic. There was a clear difference in the way Eovaldi attacked hitters versus his $324 million counterpart. Eovaldi was pounding the strike zone with 100 MPH heaters while dropping his arm angle to spin off 80 MPH frisbees. He was giving the Yankees the Nestor Cortes treatment by varying his leg lift, keeping the Yankees completely off-balance.
This scatters plot knows what I mean.
Gerrit Cole was eventually pulled from the game in the third inning after two home runs and a total of three earned runs. What a terrible performance. He didn’t seem to have a plan; he couldn’t command within the strike zone in the most significant moment of the season. The Yankees pay him $36 million a year, and he threw a total of 50 pitches in a winner-take-all game. I’ll leave it at that and have more to say on Thursday’s episode of the Just Baseball Show.
Clay Holmes came in after Cole was pulled and got an immediate double-play ball. I love that man. At that point, I said to myself…
Luis Severino came in after Holmes in the 5th, throwing 93-94 MPH, looking composed as he completed the fifth inning. The score after five innings was still just 3-0, and I was feeling somewhat confident that the Yankees would at least put up a fight through the third time in the order against Eovaldi.
At this point, Nathan Eovaldi had retired 11 in a row and had eight strikeouts until Anthony Rizzo added a home run to keep me engaged in the game. The Sox pulled Eovaldi after 5+ innings, 71 pitches, 54 for strikes, and zero walks. A fantastic performance from a former Yankee.
Aaron Judge reached on an infield single, and Giancarlo Stanton stepped to the plate. We have one of the hottest hitters on the planet up with a runner on base with a chance to tie the game. He smacks a ball 114.9 MPH with a projected distance of 400 feet, and it bounces off the top of the piece of shit Green Monster.
Phil Nevin, the third base coach for the Yankees, decided it was a brilliant idea to run on the team that leads all of baseball in outfield assists. Guess what? The Yankees also tied for the league lead in outs made at home plate! WHY DID YOU SEND HIM PHIL?? WHY!!!!??? To Nevin’s credit, Bogaerts had an excellent turn and throw to get him out, but he was out by 10 feet!
That play seemed to take the wind out of the Yankees sails. At this point, there are two outs with a runner on second base, but all Yankee fans knew Stanton wouldn’t score. Joey Gallo proved all Yankee fans correct by popping out to the third baseman to end the inning.
As Luis Severino walked out to start the bottom of the sixth, I had a queasy feeling it would not end well. Severino had only thrown six total innings this year, only going more than one inning twice. Hindsight is always 20-20, but I was beyond nervous when he took the ball. He got an early strikeout on Devers, and my nervousness subsided. A walk to Bogaerts raised my blood pressure back up, and the Verdugo double to right field sealed the heart attack.
The rest of the game was a blur. Thoughts of firing the whole coaching staff and front office crept into my mind, as well as switching to a new fan base. The Giants had a great year, and the Brewers are fun to watch.
The only person I want to give credit to is Giancarlo Stanton. He was a huge reason we were even in this game, adding a home run in the ninth inning. He’s hit seven home runs in his last eight playoff games and continues to be one of the best power hitters in baseball.
The Yankees and Red Sox switched plans. The Red Sox were an undisciplined team when it comes to taking walks this year, yet in this game, they were taking pitches and getting deep into the Yankees bullpen. The Yankees, on the other hand, recorded six total hits, aggressively swung at everything, and gave up the most walks in an elimination game in their history. Give Alex Cora a ton of credit, the Red Sox had a plan, and the Yankees did not.
I should have seen this coming. If it weren’t for an infield single by Aaron Judge in the previous game against the Rays, the Yankees would have suffered a shutout loss. Before that, they scored five total runs in their last two games against the Rays. I’ve said it a million times this year; the Yankees rely on momentum. I said it in the previous episode; the Yankees desperately needed an early lead to win this game. Once Bogaerts homered, it was just a matter of time before they lost.
Garrett Whitlock, the former Rule 5 Yankees farmhand, was the one to close it all out to give the Red Sox the 6-2 win.