A.L. Wild-Card Game Live Updates: Yankees vs. Red Sox
In a tense game at Fenway Park, the fierce A.L. East rivals will battle for a spot in a league division series. The Red Sox spotted their starter, Nathan Eovaldi, a two-run lead in the bottom of the first inning. It is one of the biggest rivalries in sports, and on Tuesday the stakes will be even higher than usual: The Yankees are at Fenway Park for the American League wild-card game against the Boston Red Sox. The winner advances to a division series matchup with the Tampa Bay Rays — the team that beat both of them for the American League East title — and the loser will go home.
Bottom 2nd: Cole shakes off a double and strikes out the side. 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 he Yankees’ ace has arrived. Here's the Gerrit Cole Slider.
I'm 100% sure I know what replies are gonna say, but feel free to chime in. 😀 pic.twitter.com/AnGoKLmv2A — Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) October 6, 2021
Top 2nd: Eovaldi has the Yankees swinging and missing. 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.
Bottom 1st: Bogaerts gives the Sox an early lead. Boston shortstop Xander Bogaerts before the first inning. Johnny Milano for The New York Times 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. Xander Bogaerts gives the Red Sox an early lead with a 2-run shot 💥 @BRWalkoff
Fenway is ROCKING tonight
pic.twitter.com/9AxdTt8BOq — Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) October 6, 2021
The Yankees should watch out for Boston’s consolation prize. Kyle Schwarber has been absolutely raking for Boston since Aug. 13. 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.
Top 1st: The Yankees settle for a very loud single. 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.
Should we feel bad for the wild-card teams? Not so much. Barry Bonds, left, Manager Dusty Baker, center, and first base coach Bobby Bonds of the 1993 San Francisco Giants, who won 103 games but lost their division to Atlanta. That postseason was the last without wild cards. 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?”
You wouldn’t like Giancarlo Stanton when he’s angry. Since Aug. 17, Giancarlo Stanton has hit 17 homers. Only Salvador Perez of the Kansas City Royals hit more. 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.”
Bucky Dent and Ron Guidry have some tips for the Yankees. Bucky Dent’s three-run homer in the Yankees’ win over the Red Sox on Oct. 2, 1978, earned him a colorful nickname. 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?
J.D. Martinez won’t be available tonight. Blame the National League. Because of an injury, J.D. Martinez will not be available for the Red Sox on Tuesday. J.D. Martinez, the most decorated slugger on the Boston Red Sox, is not on the team’s wild-card game roster and as a result will not play in Tuesday night’s game. Martinez suffered a bizarre injury in the sixth inning of Sunday’s regular season finale against Washington, slipping when he stepped on second base while running out to his position. Because the Red Sox, an American League team, were playing in a National League park, the Nationals’ home, Martinez was playing the outfield instead of his traditional designated hitter spot. “J.D. has been stepping on that bag for 10 years,” Red Sox Manager Alex Cora said on Tuesday afternoon. “It just happened that he slipped.” Martinez, 34 — a World Series winner with the Red Sox in 2018, a three-time Silver Slugger and a four-time All Star, including this season — had bounced back from a rough 2020 season to hit .286 with 28 home runs and 99 runs batted in. He trailed only third baseman Rafael Devers, 24, in on-base plus slugging percentage and R.B.I. on the Red Sox this season. To account for Martinez’s absence, the Red Sox shifted their lineup around. Kyle Schwarber is the designated hitter, Bobby Dalbec is the first baseman, and the outfield will be Enrique Hernandez, Hunter Renfroe and Alex Verdugo.
We know when the American League wild-card game between the Yankees and the Boston Red Sox should start. The open question, when dealing with teams that are known for games that drag into the wee hours, is when it will end. The do-or-die game comes after a wild final day of the regular season in which there stood a very real possibility of a four-way tie for two postseason spots. That the Yankees and the Red Sox both won their games, and clinched postseason spots, with final-inning heroics was just showing off.
• None Stakes: A spot in a league division series against the Tampa Bay Rays (and bragging rights over a fierce rival)
• None Streaming: Various services like Sling, Hulu Live and FuboTV will carry the ESPN feed, which is also available via WatchESPN and the ESPN app.
A pitching matchup of Yankee vs. former Yankee. Gerrit Cole of the Yankees started four games against the Boston Red Sox this season. He went 2-2 with a 4.91 E.R.A. Most recently, on Sept. 24, he outdueled Nathan Eovaldi in Boston. Tonight’s game will be a matchup of the Yankees ace Gerrit Cole and Nathan Eovaldi of the Boston Red Sox, who a few lifetimes ago was miscast as a future ace in the Bronx. The Yankees are hoping that Cole, their $324 million star, can step up as their go-to guy when they need him most. There are no guarantees, however. He was a favorite for the Cy Young Award for much of the season, and ended up going 16-8 with a 3.23 E.R.A. and 243 strikeouts. But a sharp fade down the stretch, and his connection with baseball’s enforcement of its sticky substance policy, will most likely hand that award to Robbie Ray of the Toronto Blue Jays. Eovaldi, on the other hand, has come a long way from his days of not quite living up to expectations with the Yankees in 2015 and 2016. He fought through some injuries and spent some time as a reliever, and this year he became an ace of sorts for Boston, going 11-9 with a 3.75 E.R.A. and 195 strikeouts. At least one metric indicates he was better than it seemed: His fielding independent pitching score, which is an estimate of a pitcher’s E.R.A. in events he was solely responsible for, was an American League-leading 2.79 — one spot ahead of Cole and seven spots ahead of Ray. Boston, however, will have to hope Eovaldi has a short memory: In his last start against the Yankees, on Sept. 24, he was tattooed for seven runs in two and two-thirds innings. The winning pitcher of that game? Gerrit Cole.