By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: In a playoff game in the Bronx that involved Aaron Boone, a manager made a poor decision to stick with his ace for too long.
While it wasn’t quite a parallel to Grady Little and Pedro Martinez in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS, the decision Boone made on Monday night may prove to have a similar effect for his Yankees as Little’s decision did for the Red Sox 15 years ago.
In this case, it was early in the game that Boone decided to send Luis Severino out to the mound. It was the fourth inning, to be precise, just after Severino had allowed a 1-0 Boston lead to balloon to a 3-0 lead in the third, behind three hits and a sacrifice fly.
Severino — who, according to the television broadcast, did not begin warming up until 7:32 p.m. for a game that began at 7:40 p.m. — clearly did not have it on this night. But Boone didn’t recognize that. So the manager asked his ace to shape up in the fourth.
(Both Boone and Severino disputed the report that the pregame warmup began late, but the YES Network did show Severino’s bullpen session beginning at 7:32 p.m.)
That fourth inning for Severino looked like this:
Brock Holt, single to center field.
Christian Vazquez, line drive single to right.
Jackie Bradley Jr., four-pitch walk.
Bradley initially showed bunt on the first pitch of his plate appearance, but pulled back to take a low ball one. From there, the .234 hitter never had to lift the bat off his shoulder, with Severino missing badly for balls three and four. That walk turned over the lineup for the Red Sox, setting up Mookie Betts and the top of the order for Boston.
With the bases loaded and nobody out, Boone finally got the hook for Severino — three batters too late.
Boone then asked Lance Lynn to perform a miracle, to escape a bases-loaded, nobody-out jam with little or no damage.
The right-hander took the mound and then … walked Betts on four pitches. Not one of them was anywhere close to the plate. With Andrew Benintendi at the plate with the bases still loaded, Lynn split the plate with a 95 mph fastball on a 2-2 count. Benintendi squared it up and pulled it down the right field line, bringing home all three runners and giving Boston a 7-0 lead.
From there, things only got worse for the Yankees. Lynn would be lifted with runners on the corners and one out, but Chad Green served up a two-out RBI single to Steve Pearce before Brock Holt delivered a two-run triple to give the Red Sox a 10-0 lead. Boston eventually won 16-1 in a complete laugher.
That was, quite clearly, a nightmare scenario for the Yankees, who entered the night looking to take a 2-1 series lead. Instead, they’ll be facing elimination on Tuesday night.
When a game spirals out of control like that, it can sometimes be difficult to sort out exactly where everything went wrong. Yet in this case, there was no ambiguity. Put this one on the shoulders of Severino and Boone.