By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — That was not pretty. And for Red Sox fans with emotional investment in every pitch, it was no doubt a long night. A very long night.
Nevertheless, the Red Sox have themselves a 1-0 series lead in the ALDS after hanging on for a 5-4 victory in Game 1 against the Yankees.
Here’s how it happened.
–Rick Porcello is now the Red Sox’ best eighth inning guy. Well, for one night, anyway. Manager Alex Cora was seemingly out of any other options when he called upon the announced Game 3 starter to enter in relief of a two-run game in the eighth inning. And Porcello made it look like a great decision, as he quickly recorded two outs.
Gleyber Torres did reach base with two outs on a dribbler up the third-base line, which prompted Cora to remove Porcello for Craig Kimbrel. The closer was able to get out of the inning without any issue, and that stability from Porcello was much-needed on a night when Boston’s bullpen was a bit of a roller coaster.
–J.D. Martinez had himself a pretty good first postseason at-bat as a member of the Red Sox. He turned on an inside fastball and absolutely crushed it for a three-run homer in the bottom of the first inning.
The pitch itself was well inside, off the plate, but that didn’t stop him from squaring it up and hitting the baseball about as hard as any human can hit a baseball.
Martinez went 2-for-4 on the night. That included a 400-foot fly out to right field.
–Chris Sale was an ace. For the most part.
For five innings, Sale calmed all the nerves and worries of Red Sox fans who weren’t sure about his health. He was consistently hitting 95 mph when he needed/wanted to, he recorded eight strikeouts, and his slider was absolutely devastating. (His changeup wasn’t bad, either.)
It was, overall, an encouraging start for Sale. The final line may not fully show that, because he allowed a couple of base runners on some hard-hit singles by Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton before getting lifted with one out in the fifth. Ryan Brasier allowed both inherited runners to score, and both were charged to Sale.
But certainly, on a night when the Sox put five quick runs on the board, Sale pitched well enough for the Red Sox to win.
–Ryan Brasier created a big ol’ mess. Alex Cora showed tremendous faith in the right-hander by going to him first out of the pen. But Brasier didn’t come through.
He allowed an RBI single to Luke Voit on his first pitch, and he allowed another run to score when Didi Gregorius grounded into a fielder’s choice after an eight-pitch battle. Brasier then threw a wild pitch (that traveled about 45 feet) and walked Miguel Andujar, ending the reliever’s night.
If you were looking to add a name to your list of trustworthy bullpen arms this postseason, Brasier’s debut probably wouldn’t quite cut it.
–Brandon Workman cleaned up that mess — but not before adding some gasoline to the fire. Workman entered in relief of Brasier and went right ahead and walked Gary Sanchez on four pitches. Now with the bases loaded, Workman was struggling to find the plate against Gleyber Torres.
But Workman regrouped, hit the outside edge with a fastball on a 3-1 count, and then got Torres to chase a breaking ball for a swinging strike three to leave the bases loaded.
–Matt Barnes was a bit of a roller coaster, but he got Giancarlo Stanton to strike out swinging with the bases juiced in the seventh. Granted, the bases were loaded only because Barnes walked Brett Gardner, but still, this was a huge moment. The score was 5-2 at the time, and Barnes was able to escape that inning with the score at 5-3.
–New York’s bullpen, on the other hand, was excellent. The quartet of Chad Green, Lance Lynn, Zach Britton and David Robertson combined to pitch six innings, giving up no runs along the way. They helped prevent this one from getting out of hand, after J.A. Happ allowed five runs in his two-plus innings of work. Those runs were charged to Happ, but Green was on the mound when they scored. Still, Aaron Boone has to feel heartened by his bullpen’s performance in this one.
In those six innings of work from Yankees relievers, the Red Sox managed just four hits and two walks while striking out five times.
–Sandy Leon was immense behind the plate. In that stressful seventh inning, Leon was forced to keep four or five breaking balls in front of him while runners were on base. Though one pitch — a 50-footer from Brasier — bounced up and over the net behind the plate, Leon was able to stop the rest.
–It was a rough night for Giancarlo Stanton. He not only had the aforementioned strikeout with the bases loaded and nobody out, but he also struck out on just three pitches against Kimbrel in the ninth. He looked bad on the final pitch too, as Kimbrel snapped off a breaking ball and made the big man’s legs buckle, just before he was rung up by the home plate umpire.
Stanton went 1-for-5 with four strikeouts.
–The Sox stopped scoring after the third inning. A Steve Pearce RBI single and a Xander Bogaerts sacrifice fly made the Sox’ lead grow to 5-0 in the third, but that would be it for the Boston bats. As has been mentioned, the New York bullpen was strong. But as we saw with much of the bullpen work from Boston, five runs probably won’t be enough to win every night.
–Craig Kimbrel recorded his second career playoff save, and his first since 2013.
He did allow a solo homer to Aaron Judge to lead off the ninth, but that may be a tip your cap type of moment. And Kimbrel responded well, retiring he next three batters, all via the strikeout.
–What’s next: David Price. Masahiro Tanaka. Game 2.
It’ll be a late one, so brew an extra pot of coffee in the afternoon and get ready for what could be a long one. First pitch is at 8:15 p.m.