By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
Final, 6-2 Yankees: This one’s over. The ninth started on a promising note for the Red Sox, as Pearce drew a walk.
But Nunez struck out, and Kinsler grounded into a 6-4-3 double play, and this series is tied.
Game 3. Monday night. In the Bronx.
Middle 9th, 6-2 Yankees: It wasn’t a clean inning for Hembree, but he got out of it without allowing any more runs.
He started the inning by walking Judge and Voit, but he induced a 5-3 double play from Stanton to help settle things down. He then got Sanchez to fly out to shallow left to end the inning.
The Sox are down to their final three outs. Even if they can’t close this gap, they’d like be encouraged if they can get put some runners on and plate a run or two against Aroldis Chapman here.
End 8th, 6-2 Yankees: Zach Britton extinguished any hope of the top of the Sox order getting anything done in the eighth. Despite a one-out walk to Benintendi, Britton breezed through the eighth. He got Betts to chop out to third, got Martinez to ground weakly into a fielder’s choice, and then did the same to Bogaerts.
The Sox are down to their final three outs. They’ll need to get through the top of the ninth to keep the lead at four and have at least a glimmer of a chance.
Middle 8th, 6-2 Yankees: Heath Hembree got the Sox through the eighth, thanks to a 6-4-3 double play off the bat of McCutchen. Kinsler’s throw took Pearce off the bag, but he made the tag as McCutchen ran by to end the inning.
Top of the order due up for Boston. It’s now or never if they want to pull off a comeback for the ages.
They’ll be facing Zach Britton.
End 7th, 6-2 Yankees: The Red Sox finally scored another run. Unfortunately for them, the scoring stopped after one.
This one was delivered by Ian Kinsler, who doubled off the Monster to score Moreland, who had singled through the shift on the right side to lead off the inning.
But that would be it for Boston. Devers entered as a pinch hitter for Leon and promptly struck out. Bradley grounded out weakly to end the threat.
Moreland also tweaked his right hamstring while scoring from first on Kinsler’s double, so his night is done. Steve Pearce enters the game for him.
Heath Hembree is on the mound, and Vazquez is behind the plate.
Middle 7th, 6-1 Yankees: This game might be over.
With two on and one out, Gary Sanchez absolutely smothered a fastball over the heart of the plate, sending it deep to left-center to give the Yankees a 6-1 lead. That thing was just as deep as Judge’s first inning blast.
It’s not as if the Yankees smashed the cover off the ball to get in that situation. Judge hit a nubber to first base, but Rodriguez was very, very slow in getting over to cover first base, allowing Judge to reach. Rodriguez then missed just low with a changeup to Voit on a 3-2 count.
Rodriguez then got Stanton to hit a chopper to third. Nunez made a poor throw to second base, and Voit was initially called safe. But the Red Sox challenged, and Kinsler’s toe was just able to stay on the bag while reaching up to make the catch.
But that extra out didn’t matter, because Sanchez hit a ball to the moon.
End 6th, 3-1 Yankees: Well, so much for that opportunity for the meat of the Boston order. Dellin Betances was just pumping strikes — nine strikes on nine pitches, in fact — and the Red Sox were retired quietly in order. Benintendi, Martinez and Bogaerts all failed to even get the ball out of the infield, and it’s on to the seventh inning in this one.
Middle 6th, 3-1 Yankees: Rodriguez got the job done, inducing a popout to short from Gardner and getting McCutchen to swing through strike three.
The Sox are right there, needing a bloop and a blast, as they say. With Benintendi, Martinez and Bogaerts due up in the bottom of the sixth, now figures to be a prime opportunity.
Dellin Betances is on for the Yankees.
Top 6th, 1 Out, 3-1 Yankees: The bottom of the Yankees’ order continues to be a thorn in Boston’s side tonight, as Andujar and Torres just hit consecutive one-out singles off Brandon Workman. As a result, Workman’s short night is over, having allowed two singles while recording just one out.
On comes Eduardo Rodriguez to face Gardner. Cora has to be hoping for a ground ball for a double play to end this inning, before the top of the order comes up with RBI opportunities.
End 5th, 3-1 Yankees: Masahiro Tanaka has been impressive, plain and simple. He got Sandy Leon to ground out to short (well, technically it was third baseman Miguel Andujar in the shift) and then won a battle with Jackie Bradley by beating him with a splitter for a swinging strike three on a full count.
Up stepped Mookie Betts with two out and nobody on. Betts gave one a ride, but Gardner made the catch well short of the center field wall. Another harmless inning from the Boston bats. And with that daunting New York bullpen looming, time is running out to “do damage,” as they like to say.
Middle 5th, 3-1 Yankees: Ryan Brasier’s second postseason appearance was much better than his first, and it ended with some drama.
But let’s start at the beginning. He struck out McCutchen to start the inning, before Judge reached base and took second on a throwing error by Nunez. (Nunez made a fine defensive play to stab the hot shot, but his throw was terrible.) Brasier then walked Voit to bring up a two-on, one-out situation for Stanton.
Facing one of the game’s most fearsome power hitters, Brasier showed no fear. He went with three fastballs, for two fouls and a swinging strike three.
But he wasn’t out of the inning just yet. Facing Gary Sanchez, Brasier still had work to do. The problem was, Sanchez wasn’t letting him do it. When Sanchez called for time one too many times, Brasier showed some frustration and waved at Sanchez, telling him to get back in the bleeping box. Sanchez did not appreciate the gesture and the message.
After both men took a breath, Brasier fired a 97 mph fastball plateward, leading to a swing and a miss for strike three. Brasier let out a roar, while Sanchez stared him down.
We’ll see if that little bit of drama leads to anything else going forward.
End 4th, 3-1 Yankees: The Red Sox are finally on the board, thanks to a one-out Xander Bogaerts solo blast to straightaway center field.
Tanaka managed the damage from there, despite allowing a two-out walk to Nunez. He came back to get Kinsler to swing through strike three to end the inning.
Martinez flew out prior to the homer, and Moreland struck out after the homer.
Tanaka’s now at 62 pitches. Save for the pitch to Bogaerts and the pitch that Betts missed, he’s been at his best tonight.
Ryan Brasier is now in the game to replace Kelly. If the Sox somehow manage to win this game, Kelly will be a big reason why. This game could have gotten out of hand early.
Middle 4th, 3-0 Yankees: Joe Kelly has been the lone bright spot thus far for Boston. He just retired the bottom of the Yankees’ lineup in order, and he’s now given the Sox 2.1 innings of one-hit ball.
End 3rd, 3-0 Yankees: The Sox were threatening, after a one-out single from Jackie Bradley, Mookie Betts got into a 3-1 hitter’s count. But he sent a sky-high popup into the middle of the infield for out number two. Benintendi then grounded out to second to end the inning.
The miss from Betts was huge. Tanaka left a pitch over the middle of the plate, but Betts just missed.
Tanaka’s at just 44 pitches through three scoreless innings. The Red Sox are going to want to go ahead and get to him sooner than later, because the chances of the Boston bullpen giving 6.1 scoreless innings tonight lie somewhere between slim and none.
Middle 3rd, 3-0 Yankees: Joe Kelly was able to keep the Yankees off the scoreboard in an impressive third inning.
Voit flew out to right, Stanton smoked a line drive single to left-center, Sanchez struck out, and Gregorius flew out to center.
Leon, Bradley and Betts are due up for the Red Sox.
End 2nd, 3-0 Yankees: Tanaka appears to be on his game tonight. He just got Moreland (4-3 groundout), Nunez (lineout to center), and Ian Kinsler (strikeout swinging) to go down in order.
Kelly will be facing Voit, Stanton, and Sanchez in the third.
Middle 2nd, 3-0 Yankees: Aaron Judge made solid contact on Kelly’s first pitch, but the line drive went directly at Mookie Betts for out number three of the inning.
So, Price’s line is this: 1.2 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 2 BB.
Top 2nd, 2 outs, 3-0 Yankees: Tonight was a huge opportunity for David Price. He blew it.
The boos rained down on Price as he made his way to the Boston dugout, after Alex Cora pulled the plug on his start just five outs into the game.
The decision came after Price allowed a wall-ball single to McCutchen, which scored Torres.
We’ll have to wait to see if Joe Kelly can get out of the inning before Price’s final line is etched in stone, but what we do know is that after all the talk about postseason performance, he only lasted 1.2 innings against the Yankees.
Top 2nd, 2 Outs, 2-0 Yankees: With a pair of two-out walks at the bottom of the Yankees order, there’s now action in the Boston bullpen. Joe Kelly is getting warm, as Price faces McCutchen.
Top 2nd, 0 Outs, 2-0 Yankees: You can now double that lead for the Yankees, thanks to another long ball.
This time it was Gary Sanchez, who extended his arms to pull an outside pitch from Price. Sanchez got enough of the offering to send it into the second row of the Monster seats.
End 1st, 1-0 Yankees: J.D. Martinez hit a two-out single down the third-base line, a ball that’s a double in any other park. (It caromed off the wall in shallow left, allowing shortstop Didi Gregorius to track it down and hold Martinez to a single.)
But that was it for the Boston bats. Betts harmlessly popped out to left, Benintendi lined out to center, and though Bogaerts laced a line drive to left-center field, Gardner was able to hunt it down for the final out.
Middle 1st, 1-0 Yankees: The New York Yankees have a lead. That didn’t take long.
After retiring McCutchen to lead off the game, Price left a 91 mph cutter over the fat of the plate, and Aaron Judge made him pay for it. Judge sent a towering fly ball deep to left-center field, plenty deep enough to clear the Monster. The moon shot was estimated to have gone 445 feet.
Not the start Price or the Red Sox were looking for.
Price was able to get out of the inning, though Giancarlo Stanton made an awfully loud out with a high fly ball to deep center field. Jackie Bradley was able to camp out under it though with plenty of space to end the inning. Price got a little lucky with that out, as the 94 mph fastball to Stanton split the plate in half, right at the belt.
Price recorded the other two outs with ground balls to third from McCutchen and Voit.
Now we’ll see how the Red Sox respond to their first deficit of this series.
Top 1st: David Price’s first pitch is a fastball in the dirt for ball one. Game 2 is underway.
6 p.m.: The lineups are out for Game 2. The only semi-surprise for Boston is that Nunez is starting a second straight game, leaving Rafael Devers on the bench. That’s mostly a defensive consideration. But, given the general weakness at the bottom of the Boston order, Devers represents a big bat available for Alex Cora later in the game.
For the Yankees, center fielder Aaron Hicks is not in the lineup. He left Game 1 with a hamstring injury.
BOSTON RED SOX
1. Mookie Betts, RF
2. Andrew Benintendi, LF
3. J.D. Martinez, DH
4. Xander Bogaerts, SS
5. Mitch Moreland, 1B
6. Eduardo Nunez, 3B
7. Ian Kinsler, 2B
8. Sandy Leon, C
9. Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
David Price, SP
NEW YORK YANKEES
1. Andrew McCutchen, LF
2. Aaron Judge, RF
3. Luke Voit, 1B
4. Giancarlo Stanton, DH
5. Gary Sanchez, C
6. Didi Gregorius, SS
7. Miguel Andujar, 3B
8. Gleyber Torres, 2B
9. Brett Gardner, CF
Masahiro Tanaka, SP
2 p.m.: Tonight is the biggest start of David Price’s life.
That may seem like it’s oversimplifying things, but hear me out.
In sports, we often use and hear the term “narrative.” It’s generally used by somebody who’s looking to dismiss a prevailing notion about a player that may not be entirely true.
With David Price, the “narrative” surrounding him is well-known: Great regular-season pitcher, terrible postseason pitcher. Tack on to that this one: He can’t pitch against the Yankees.
While some may seek to dismiss such an abridged description of the pitcher, it is pretty accurate in this case.
In the regular season, he owns a 143-75 record, a 3.25 ERA, and a 1.144 WHIP.
In the playoffs, he owns a 2-8 record, a 5.03 ERA, and a 1.214 WHIP.
Price came with that tag when he signed the richest contract ever for a pitcher with the Red Sox, and thus far, he’s lived up to the billing. He was tagged for five earned runs off six hits and two walks in 2016, his lone postseason start for Boston. Last year as a reliever, he took some positive steps forward, pitching 6.2 shutout innings. But he had performed well as a postseason reliever in the past. As a starter, he’s essentially 1-for-9 when it comes to putting forth an exceptional showing in the postseason.
Then there is the matter of facing the New York Yankees. This year in April, Price had to leave a game at Fenway Park against the Yankees early due to numbness in his hand. He had allowed four earned runs in his lone inning of work to that point. He then missed a start against the Yankees due to what was described as “mild carpal tunnel” by manager Alex Cora.
Price finally got to see the Yankees again on July 1. He allowed a career-high five home runs. He was battered for eight earned runs off nine hits, and he lasted just 3.1 innings. Price was able to atone for that start — somewhat — when he faced the Yankees in August and held them to two runs over six innings in a Red Sox victory. But Price was haunted in Yankee Stadium once again in September, when he served up three home runs and allowed six runs (four earned) while lasting just 5.1 innings in a loss in New York.
By the end of the year, Price’s stats vs. everybody else looked noticeably different than Price’s stats vs. the Yankees.
Price vs. Yankees in 2018: 0-3, 10.34 ERA, 1.915 WHIP
Price vs. Everyone Else in 2018: 16-4, 2.90 ERA, 1.061 WHIP
Price allowed nine home runs in 15.2 innings of work against the Yankees. He didn’t allow a single home run in 39 innings of work against the White Sox, Indians, Tigers, Phillies, Mariners and Rangers. He didn’t allow more than three home runs against any other team.
You get the point. The Yankees were a problem for Price this year, just as they were in 2017, just as they were in 2016. As a member of the Red Sox pitching staff, pitchers ideally wouldn’t have such a problem against a key divisional rival.
So here we are. A playoff start. Against the Yankees. Price’s two bugaboos coming together at once.
If he falls flat, there will be countless people in the region and beyond nudging the person next to them and letting out a brash “I told you so.”
If he pitches, say, six or seven innings, allowing two or fewer runs, and setting up his team with a 2-0 lead in a five-game series? It wouldn’t eliminate his history, but it would go a very long way in wiping away some of that “narrative” that’s followed him around now for years. (Of course, if he succeeds tonight, he’ll have to pitch again. Whether that’s later in the series or in the ALCS, we’ll all likely do this same song and dance again.)
Whichever result ends up happening for Price, it ought to be captivating.
And remember — given the less-than-inspiring performance out of the bullpen in Game 1, the Red Sox (and their fan base) would truly appreciate the removal of any such stress for Game 2.
Price will be opposed by Masahiro Tanaka, who’s had his own issues with Boston this season. He posted a 7.58 ERA across his four starts against the Red Sox.
First pitch is at 8:15 p.m. Keep it here for updates and analysis all night long.