By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
Final, 5-4 Red Sox: It’s over. It wasn’t pretty, but the Red Sox held on. They now lead the series 1-0.
After giving up the homer, Kimbrel overpowered Gardner for a swinging strikeout, and then made short work of Stanton with a nasty slider for a called strike three.
On a 2-2 pitch, Kimbrel overpowered Voit with a 98 mph fastball, and that put an end to this one. What a game.
Top 9th, 5-4 Red Sox: Aaron Judge has led off the ninth with a solo homer, showing off his strength with an opposite field blast into the Yankees’ bullpen.
No room for error now.
End 8th, 5-3 Red Sox: The Sox went down 1-2-3, and it’s on to the ninth inning.
It’ll be Aaron Judge, Brett Gardner, and Giancarlo Stanton due up for the Yankees.
Middle 8th, 5-3 Red Sox: Kimbrel gets it done. Though he had some trouble finding the plate, he was able to get McCutchen to fly out to shallow right field to end the inning.
The Sox are three outs away from a Game 1 win. But they sure wouldn’t mind a run or two to create some comfort.
Top 8th, 2 outs, 5-3 Red Sox: Rick Porcello was excellent, but he was not given the opportunity to get out of the inning.
Porcello got Andujar to tap out down the first base line, then got a little lucky when Sanchez sent a line drive right at Nunez for out No. 2.
Torres then hit a dribbler down the third base line, and it was so slow that Nunez had no play at first base.
At that point, Cora pulled the plug on Porcello, which likely has to do with Porcello having to pitch on Monday night. (Cora would rather avoid as much bullpen drama as possible in the Bronx.) So now it’s Craig Kimbrel, on for a four-out save, with a runner on base and the tying run at the plate in the eighth.
End 7th, 5-3 Red Sox: No runs for Boston there. J.D. Martinez dropped a two-out single in front of Judge in right, but Betts grounded out back to Britton. The pitcher, for whatever reason, decided to fire a 100 mph fastball over to first base, but Voit was able to handle it.
In an interesting move that shows the desperate situation for Alex Cora, the reliever trusted to pitch the eighth is not a reliever at all. It’s Rick Porcello. He’s schedule to start Game 3 on Monday in New York, but first he’ll have to try to preserve this lead for an inning.
Middle 7th, 5-3 Red Sox: Credit to Matt Barnes. That could have been much, much worse.
Barnes got Stanton to strike out swinging, which was huge. Voit then grounded to third. Nunez threw to second to get the force-out, but with Gardner going in with a hard slide, Kinsler was unable to get anything on his throw to first. Voit beat the throw by a step, which allowed McCutchen to score the third Yankees run of the night.
But Barnes came back to induce a harmless choper to second base by Gregorius to get out of the inning.
Credit also to Sandy Leon, who blocked at least five breaking balls that hit the dirt (or the grass, in some cases) well short of the plate. He did some incredible work in keeping those balls in front of him.
Now, with just a two-run lead, the Red Sox should try to score a few runs. Because this is no way to live.
Zach Britton is on for the Yankees.
Top 7th, 0 Outs, 5-2 Red Sox: Barnes walked Brett Gardner.
Now it’s bases loaded. Nobody out.
Giancarlo Stanton at the plate.
This is a problem for the Boston Red Sox.
Also, Rick Porcello, aka the Game 3 starter, is getting warm in the bullpen.
Looks as the reliever problem that everybody discussed for six months was indeed a problem.
Top 7th, 0 Outs, 5-2 Red Sox: Well, the good times for Workman didn’t last long. He allowed a leadoff single to McCutchen, which was followed up by a single to shallow center by Judge. Jackie Bradley made a diving attempt on that one, but the ball bounced before Bradley got his glove on it.
And that’s it for Workman.
Here comes Matt Barnes, with nobody out and the tying run at the plate.
End 6th, 5-2 Red Sox: The Red Sox’ half of the sixth ends with Mookie Betts disagreeing with a called strike three by home plate ump Cory Blaser. The cutter from Lynn did leak a little outside, but nevertheless, there’s no winning that case for Betts.
Cora is going to stick with Workman for the start of the seventh.
Middle 6th, 5-2 Red Sox: What a huge moment for Brandon Workman … though it didn’t look good at first.
Workman entered with two on and two out and immediately walked Gary Sanchez. On four pitches.
Now with the bases loaded and the go-ahead run at the plate, Workman fell behind 3-1 to Torres. Workman came back with a fastball for a called strike on the outside edge of the plate, and then went with a 3-2 breaking ball that dipped below the zone. Torres swung and missed, leaving the bases juiced and getting the Red Sox out of a big old mess.
Top 6th, 2 Outs, 5-2 Red Sox: Cora trusted Brasier to put out a fire. Brasier didn’t exactly get the job done.
Luke Voit lined a single past first base on Brasier’s first pitch, instantly scoring Gardner and getting Stanton to third base.
Gregorius then engaged in an eight-pitch battle, ultimately grounding into a fielder’s choice to second but beating out the throw from Bogaerts to first on a double play attempt. By beating the throw, Gregorius picked up an RBI as Stanton crossed the plate.
With two outs and a runner on first, Brasier bounced a 2-0 pitch to Andujar, and it made its way to the backstop to allow Gregorius to trot into second base. Brasier ended up walking Andujar on a full count, prompting Cora to emerge from the dugout and call on Brandon Workman to try to retire Gary Sanchez in a huge spot.
Top 6th, 1 Out, 5-0 Red Sox: Sale wasn’t quite able to get the Sox to the seventh with that 5-0 lead, as he allowed a leadoff single to Judge and later a Stanton single. (Gardner grounded into a fielder’s choic ein between.) Both balls were hit hard, and after Stanton’s single, Alex Cora made the move to the bullpen. Sale was at 94 pitches. His highest pitch count post-DL came in his final start, when he threw 92 pitches. So that area was perhaps the target set before this game.
Ryan Brasier enters, needing a ground ball to clean up this mess.
End 5th, 5-0 Red Sox: A quiet inning for the meat of the Red Sox order against Lynn. Pearce grounded out, Martinez hit a little pop-up to first base, Bogaerts reached on an infield single, and Nunez grounded out to second base (with a deflection off Lynn’s glove).
Middle 5th, 5-0 Red Sox: Chris Sale got that short inning he needed, getting the Yankees to go down 1-2-3.
Sanchez grounded out to second in a three-pitch at-bat, Torres grounded out to the pitcher in a four-pitch at-bat, and McCutchen flew out to Betts in a two-pitch at-bat.
Now at 83 pitches, Sale should be able to at least take this lead to the seventh for the Red Sox.
Lance Lynn is in the game for the Yankees.
End 4th, 5-0 Red Sox: A leadoff single by Kinsler and a sacrifice bunt by Leon to waste, as Bradley popped out, Betts took an intentional walk, and Benintendi grounded out sharply to third base.
Middle 4th, 5-0 Red Sox: Chris Sale got into a little bit of a jam. But again, it was no problem for the ace.
After the leadoff single by Hicks, Sale struck out Stanton and Voit. Gregorius hit an infield single up the middle (after nearly bending one around the Pesky Pole), setting up the Yankees with two on and two out. But, after getting ahead 1-2, Sale got Andujar to helplessly swing at a changeup for strike three.
Sale is now through four innings. He’s allowed three hits and two walks and has struck out eight Yankees. He’s at 74 pitches. He could probably use a quick fifth in order to at least get six innings out of this outing. Given his slow build back to full strength in September, we’re still not sure how many pitches he has in that left arm of his tonight.
Top 4th, 5-0 Red Sox: More bad news for New York, as Aaron Hicks just exited the game due to injury. Hicks had just finished a marathon 11-pitch at-bat with Sale, ending with a sharp single into right field. But as he jogged to first, his hamstring clearly bothered him, which forced him from the game.
Brett Gardner entered to replace Hicks. Gardner hit .236 with a .690 OPS this season, and he’s now in the three-hole for New York.
End 3rd, 5-0 Red Sox: Going to Green didn’t save the Yankees from avoiding any damage.
Pearce smoked a single through the left side of the infield on Green’s first pitch, bringing home Betts.
J.D. Martinez then sent a high fly out to the warning track in right field. As millions of people pointed out, it would have been 15 rows deep at Yankee Stadium. But at Fenway, it was an out, but a productive one at least. Benintendi tagged and took third. And when Bogaerts sent a liner to right field, Benintendi was able to tag and easily beat the throw from Judge to make it a 5-0 lead for Boston.
The Sox just need Sale to continue being Sale for this one to continue going smoothly.
Bottom 3rd, 0 outs, 3-0 Red Sox: After just two-plus innings, J.A. Happ’s evening is over.
Aaron Boone pulled the trigger on removing his starter, after Happ allowed a leadoff double to Betts deep to left-center field off the Monster and then allowed a bunt single to Benintendi. It was a well-placed bunt by Benintendi, as it forced Voit to field the ball and left nobody in position to cover the bag.
While that wasn’t exactly solid contact, Boone is obviously aware of Pearce’s numbers vs. Happ and didn’t want to see that matchup with runners on the corners and nobody out.
Chad Green enters for New York.
Middle 3rd, 3-0 Red Sox: Mookie Betts is just a special athlete.
He tracked down a McCutchen fly ball deep in right field, and as he caught it, he spun and fired an absolute strike to first base in an effort to double up Gleyber Torres (who had walked). Steve Pearce stretched, but Torres got his hand back to the bag just in time to beat the throw. Nevertheless, that was some athletic feat by arguably the best player in baseball.
Sale struck out Gary Sanchez to start that inning, and got Judge to weakly ground out to second base to end the inning. Top of the order is now due up for the Sox.
End 2nd, 3-0 Red Sox: Happ settled in to retire the bottom of the Boston lineup in order. Ian Kinsler struck out, Sandy Leon flew out to left, and Jackie Bradley grounded out to the pitcher.
Middle 2nd, 3-0 Red Sox: There could have been trouble for Sale in the second, as Didi Gregorius lined a ball down the left field line, with Luke Voit already aboard with a leadoff single. But the ball harmlessly fell just foul out in left field.
Gregorius then fouled off the next two pitches before flailing at a slider for strike three. Miguel Andujar then chopped into a 4-6-3 inning-ending double play.
Sale is at 34 pitches (22 strikes) through two.
End 1st, 1 out, 3-0 Red Sox: The Red Sox are on the board in a big, big way.
Andrew Benintendi singled and then stole second, before Steve Pearce walked on four pitches. Up stepped J.D. Martinez, who absolutely destroyed an inside fastball on a 2-0 count. The ball just cleared the Monster in left, and just like that, the Sox are up by three.
Happ settled down to retire Bogaerts and Nunez to end the inning, but that was a big one for Boston.
Middle 1st, 0-0: What a start for Chris Sale. After getting McCutchen to go down looking at strike three, he did the same to Aaron Judge with the same exact pitch — a slider breaking down in and on the righties.
Sale had a chance to make it 1-2-3 but missed with a 3-2 changeup to Aaron Hicks. Sale then fell behind 3-1 to Giancarlo Stanton, but battled back. On the eighth pitch of the at-bat, Sale got Stanton to swing over a changeup for the inning-ending strikeout.
That’s three strikeouts for Sale through one. So far, so good.
Top 1st: Chris Sale’s first fastball touched 95 on the radar gun, good enough for a swinging strike by McCutchen. This one is underway.
McCutchen swung and missed at another fastball (94 mph) before taking a slider in the dirt. Sale then put him away with a devastating slider for a strikeout looking to start the game.
7:28 p.m.: The introductions are all done, and all that’s left now is the first pitch.
3:45 p.m.: And we now have the Yankees lineup.
1. Andrew McCutchen, LF
2. Aaron Judge, RF
3. Aaron Hicks, CF
4. Giancarlo Stanton, DH
5. Luke Voit, 1B
6. Didi Gregorius, SS
7. Miguel Andujar, 3B
8. Gary Sanchez, C
9. Gleyber Torres, 2B
— J.A. Happ, SP
Stanton has the best average against Sale in the Yankees lineup, though it’s not really a great sample. He’s 2-for-6 with three strikeouts. Hicks is the only other Yankee hitting better than .300 against the Boston lefty, going 8-for-25 with a pair of doubles. And nine strikeouts.
Sale has had Judge’s number when they’ve squared off, striking him out 13 times in 18 at-bats. Judge does have a homer off Sale, but that’s his only extra base hit off the Sox ace.
3:05 p.m.: In a true sign that the playoffs are here, we have our Game 1 lineup from the Red Sox.
1. Mookie Betts, RF
2. Andrew Benintendi, LF
3. Steve Pearce, 1B
4. J.D. Martinez, DH
5. Xander Bogaerts, SS
6. Eduardo Nunez, 3B
7. Ian Kinsler, 2B
8. Sandy Leon, C
9. Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
— Chris Sale, SP
If you’re surprised to see Pearce in the three-hole, don’t be. He’s 11-for-32 in his career against Yankees starter J.A. Happ with six homers and 16 RBIs.
He’s really the only Sox hitter to have a lot of success against Happ. Mookie had that slam against him earlier this season, but is just 7-for-34 overall (.206). At least four of those seven hits have gone for extra bases (a double, a triple and two homers). J.D. Martinez is just 4-for-20 against Happ, and Xander Bogaerts is 5-for-31 (a .161 average) with six strikeouts. So you can kind of see why the Yankees saved him for Game 1 of this series.
12 p.m.: It’s been far too long since the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees have met in the postseason. That finally ends tonight.
Fenway Park will be buzzing, as the New York Yankees come to town for Game 1 of the ALDS. It will be the first playoff meeting between the historic rivals since the historic showdown in the 2004 ALCS.
How long that buzzing lasts will depend quite a bit on the left arm of Chris Sale. The Red Sox’ ace was a Cy Young candidate into the summer, at which point he was twice placed on the disabled list with shoulder soreness. He was up and down in his 12 innings of work in September, and his velocity dipped significantly in his final outing. We’ll find out early on whether or not he’s fixed a mechanical issue or whether that velocity drop was related to some injury.
For the Yankees, it will be J.A. Happ taking the mound. Happ went a perfect 7-0 with a 2.69 ERA in his 11 starts as a member of the Yankees this year. He faced the Red Sox four times (as a member of the Blue Jays and the Yankees), going 1-1 with a 1.99 ERA over 22.2 innings. He famously served up a grand slam to Mookie Betts to conclude a 13-pitch battle in July.
Nobody knows what will actually happen in this game, and that is why we’ll watch. It’ll all be covered right here in the live blog, from the first pitch shortly after 7:30 p.m., until the final out. This one ought to be good.