The Boston Red Sox are heading back to the American League Championship Series (ALCS) for the first time since 2013 after a dramatic 4-3 win over the New York Yankees in game four on Tuesday.
Rick Porcello tossed five good innings for Boston to earn the win while Christian Vasquez hit the home run which would prove to be the difference. It was the second shortest home run in Yankee Stadium the season at 338 feet, according to The Athletic.
Craig Kimbrel made the game dramatic in the ninth, loading the bases and allowing two runs to score to cut the lead to one, but a groundout by Gleyber Torres ended the game and the Yankees' season with a 3-1 American League Division Series (ALDS) loss.
End of the line?
This might be it for CC Sabathia and Brett Gardner in Yankees uniforms. Both players are free agents at the end of the season and New York could opt to go younger with guys like Chance Adams in the starting rotation and Clint Frazier in the outfield.
Sabathia's game four start was the shortest of his postseason career as he went three innings, allowing five hits, three runs and just one strikeout. Gardner gave quality at-bats as he always does. It might be the end of an era in New York.
One BIG inning for the Sox.— MLB (@MLB) October 10, 2018
Boston’s on the board first. pic.twitter.com/oqi9IsQvun
Maybe just one night?
The Red Sox bullpen had been downright shaky to start the series. Between Ryan Brasier, Heath Hembree, Eduardo Rodriguez, Brandon Workman, Matt Barnes and Joe Kelly, Boston had allowed five runs in 13 innings pitched with two of those leaving the park.
Brasier, Barnes and Workman struggled in game one while Rodriguez gave up a three-run bomb in game two. Even in game one, Kimbrel gave up a solo homer to Aaron Judge.
But in game four, the Red Sox true relievers did their job. Brasier and Barnes threw two hitless innings in the sixth and seventh to help bridge the game to Kimbrel in the ninth. This could be a step in the right direction for the part of Boston's team Red Sox fans were most nervous about coming into the series.
Crazy, stressful, insane.— MLB (@MLB) October 10, 2018
This is what October baseball's all about. pic.twitter.com/MLuoPyH0mP
As good as Brasier and Barnes were, the bullpen clearly did not inspire the most confidence in manager Alex Cora, so he went to Chris Sale in the eighth inning to set up Kimbrel.
It worked out great. Sale needed all of 13 pitches to get three outs with the biggest scare coming on a long fly ball by Torres to the warning track to start the inning. That ball fell short, though, and Sale then got pinch-hitter Andrew McCutchen to ground out before striking out Aaron Hicks looking.
The eighth inning was surgical for Sale, who looked like a late-inning reliever despite not making an appearance out of the bullpen since 2012.
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