By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — In Game 1 of the ALDS between Boston and New York, the Red Sox took a first-inning lead and never trailed. In Game 2, the Yankees flipped the script.
Aaron Judge belted a towering home run in the top of the first on Saturday night at Fenway Park, and the Yankees would not trail from that point forward.
The Yankees eventually won 6-2, and here’s how it happened.
–David Price was terrible. Plain and simple. He had a pretty comfortable situation for this game, but he still couldn’t come through. He allowed five base runners while retiring just five batters. He allowed a home run on the 10th pitch of the game, and he allowed another home run on the third pitch of the second inning. He walked the eight and nine hitters in consecutive plate appearances, then allowed an RBI single to leadoff man Andrew McCutchen — a “single” that would have been a home run in any other ballpark.
The pitch to Judge was a bad one, the pitch to Sanchez wasn’t a bad one at all, but the results showed that Price clearly didn’t have it on this night. Again.
It was a dreadful night for Price, who appeared to finally in position to actually come through with at least a moderately decent postseason start. He did not.
–Gary Sanchez ended the Red Sox’ hopes rather swiftly. Despite falling behind very early, the Sox managed to keep this game close for much of the night. That ended with one violent swing in the seventh inning, when Sanchez clobbered a 2-1 fastball and sent it over the Monster and out of Fenway completely.
When it finally came down on Lansdowne Street, the Yankees had themselves a 6-1 lead. The win was essentially sealed.
That thing was an absolute bomb:
Of note in that inning: Eduardo Rodriguez was too slow in covering first base on a nubber by Aaron Judge, allowing Judge to reach on an infield single. That’s where the seventh inning began, and it proved costly.
–Aaron Judge hit a mammoth moon shot to get the game started. The Yankees’ right fielder got a 1-2 cutter from David Price with one out and nobody on in the first, and he made the most of it.
Judge sent that offering into space, and when it finally decided to come down, the Yankees had an early 1-0 lead.
Sanchez followed up Judge’s bomb with a solo homer of his own to lead off the second.
Those dingers set the tone for the game very early.
–Joe Kelly, of all people, stabilized the bullpen. Despite his many struggles through the years (struggles which led to him being a spectator throughout Game 1), he was excellent in this game. He entered with two on and two out in the second and quickly retired Aaron Judge. He’d go on to allow just one base runner (a Giancarlo Stanton single) in his 2.1 innings pitched.
The game could have gotten out of hand early, but Kelly made sure that it did not.
–Masahiro Tanaka was solid for New York. It wasn’t an all-time performance by any means, but the Red Sox couldn’t quite get to the Yankees’ starter. He lasted just five innings but allowed only three hits and one walk while striking out four. He allowed a solo homer to Xander Bogaerts but otherwise worked out of any trouble.
Considering Tanaka had a 7.58 ERA vs. Boston this year, that was more than the Yankees could have hoped for out of the right-hander.
–Ryan Brasier and Gary Sanchez had themselves a showdown right out of the Wild West. Brasier won. It came in the top of the fifth. Brasier had already struck out Giancarlo Stanton with two on and one out, but he needed to get through Sanchez to keep the score at 3-1.
After Sanchez stepped out of the box one too many times for Brasier’s liking, the right informed the Yankees’ catcher that he would prefer fewer timeouts. See for yourself:
Brasier was able to follow up his commentary with the heater for strike three, in what was an emotional high point of the evening for Boston. But with the seventh-inning blast, Sanchez later got the final word.
–Alex Cora decided to not send up a pinch hitter for Sandy Leon in the fifth, with the Sox trailing 3-1. Leon’s defense was huge in Game 1, but his bat has been completely nonexistent for some time. He ended the season on an 11-for-116 stretch (.095), he was 0-for-3 in Game 1, and he was 0-for-1 to that point in Game 2. Yet even with Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart on the bench, Cora let Leon bat. He grounded out.
Maybe a pinch hitter there would have made a difference. Maybe it wouldn’t have. But it felt like an opportunity for Cora to try to inject some offense into the game.
–Another pinch-hit opportunity arose in the bottom of the seventh. With one on and one out, Kinsler strode to the plate. He was 0-for-2 with two strikeouts to that point. He went 1-for-4 with three strikeouts in Game 1. He ended the year on a 3-for-28 (.107) stretch. The whole world was screaming for Cora to get him out of the game.
But Cora stuck with him, and Kinsler delivered with a wall-ball RBI double. Managing in the postseason may not always follow common logic, but sometimes it works out.
(Rafael Devers did enter as a pinch hitter for Leon in the next at-bat, and he struck out. Baseball.)
–The bottom of the Yankees’ order outperformed the top of the Red Sox’ order. That’s now how things should work. Alas, the trio of Miguel Andujar, Gleyber Torres, and Brett Gardner combined to go 2-for-8 with three walks.
Meanwhile the quartet of Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi, J.D. Martinez and Bogaerts combined to go 2-for-15 with one walk.
David Price will be a major story after this loss, but the lackluster showing offensively was just as big of an issue.