That’s a wrap, folks. There will be no more October baseball in the Bronx after the Yankees broke down in the home half of the ALDS. Following a 16-1 drilling on Monday, the team dropped Game Four 4-3. Tonight’s loss completes what was overall a successful yet frustrating year that ended sooner than anyone on the team wanted.
Things went south quickly for the Yankees. CC Sabathia got the first two outs of the game in only eight pitches, but would work the bases loaded before escaping the inning. He wouldn’t get so lucky in the third inning. CC led off the inning with a ball that grazed Andrew Benintendi, and Steve Pearce flicked a ball over the infield to move Benintendi to third. J.D. Martinez lifted a sac fly to bring home Benintendi and give the Sox a 1-0 lead.
Sabathia avoided the big hit, but was still in trouble with only one out recorded and a run in. The bullpen, however, wouldn’t get rumbling until two batters later, when Ian Kinsler hit a double just over the outstretched glove of Brett Gardner in left. Pearce came home, and it was 2-0 Sox.
This is a good time to address the elephant in the stadium. This should’ve been CC’s last batter. Point blank. The bullpen was saved yesterday in the event that they were needed early, and boy were they needed. Sabathia had only given up soft contact prior to Kinsler’s hit, but he still was getting into trouble early and often. With the deepest bullpen in baseball available and rested, the move has to be made. Instead, CC completed the third inning, but not before giving up a single off the bat of Eduardo Nunez to bring home Kinsler. 3-0 Sox.
Zach Britton was the first man out of the ‘pen in the fourth, and promptly gave up a home run to the Red Sox’ number nine hitter, Christian Vazquez. Britton held the line afterwards, pitching two innings before handing the ball over to David Robertson. D-Rob did his part, pitching 1.2 innings before passing the baton to Dellin Betances. He held serve, and Chapman mowed the Sox down in the ninth.
You may be wondering where the offense was during all of these innings. That’s a great question, because the answer for most of the night was nowhere. The Bombers managed just one run in five innings off of Rick Porcello, coming in his last inning of work on a Brett Gardner sac fly. Porcello was attacking the strike zone all night, working economically through the lineup while the Yankees struggled to find spots where the defenders weren’t. There’s something to be said about Boone in this game, but there’s a lot to be said about how anemic the offense looked in the park where they dominated for so long this season.
After Porcello exited the game, the lineup fell back into a stupor. They went down 1-2-3 in the sixth, the seventh, and the eighth. And while Boone was hesitant to pull out all the stops, his counterpart Alex Cora went for the kill. Cora called on his ace Chris Sale to bridge the gap in the eighth inning, and Sale delivered effortlessly.
It wasn’t until the ninth inning that the game got interesting. Craig Kimbrel was vulnerable right off the bat, walking Aaron Judge and surrendering a single to Didi Gregorius to bring the tying run to the plate. Unfortunately, Giancarlo Stanton struck out for the first out, but Luke Voit worked a walk to load the bases, and then Kimbrel plunked Neil Walker to bring home a run.
If it wasn’t already at a maximum, the tension reached new heights. Gary Sanchez was the next man up, and he put a scare into a 3-2 offering but just didn’t get enough into it. Instead, Sanchez’s fly ball was caught at the warning track, bringing home Didi and closing the gap to one. Gleyber Torres represented the last hope for the Yankees, and he put a ground ball in play to third. Torres was just barely beat at first, and the Yankees challenged the play just to double check, but the call was rightly upheld. The game was over, and the Red Sox advanced on the Yankees’ home field.
There will be a lot to dissect from this game, and the series at large. Boone will undoubtedly get critiqued for his management of the pen, and the offense will have to bear the burden of not producing until it was too late. There will be plenty of time for that though, since the offseason officially begins now.