By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
Final, 4-3 Red Sox: They did it. They hung on.
Kimbrel induced a weak tapper from Torres, and Nunez made a great charge and throw. The ball beat Torres to the first base bag by a split-second. Or so we think. We’re awaiting a final ruling on a challenge.
UPDATE — It’s over. The Red Sox win.
That was intense. Much too intense. But it’s over.
Bottom 9th, 2 Outs, 4-3 Red Sox: Oh, wow. Kimbrel got ahead. Sanchez worked it full. And Sanchez hit a ball to left that made every Red Sox fan’s heart skip a beat. But Sanchez didn’t get enough behind it. Benintendi made a catch at the track — good enough for a sac fly, but the Yankees are now down to their final out.
Gleyber Torres at the plate.
Bottom 9th, 1 Out, 4-2 Red Sox: Craig Kimbrel is a wreck. He just hit Walker in the foot with the first pitch of the at-bat. Score now 4-2. Tying run on second. Winning run on first. Kimbrel can’t find it.
Gary Sanchez coming to bat.
Bottom 9th, 1 Out, 4-1 Red Sox: Craig Kimbrel has unsettled. He just walked Luke Voit on four pitches.
Tying run is at first. Winning run is at the plate.
Hechavarria is in for Voit at first.
Walker is at the plate.
Bottom 9th, 1 Out, 4-1 Red Sox: Kimbrel has settled, getting Stanton to strike out swinging at a breaking ball down and away. One down. Two to go. Tying run still at the plate. Now it’s Voit.
Bottom 9th, 0 Outs, 4-1 Red Sox: Gregorius hit a ground ball single through the right side. The tying run is at the plate. His name is Giancarlo Stanton.
Bottom 9th, 0 outs, 4-1 Red Sox: Kimbrel walked Judge on four pitches. An inauspicious start to the ninth.
Middle 9th, 4-1 Red Sox: The Red Sox were unable to do anything against Aroldis Chapman. And now it’s time for Kimbrel.
End 8th, 4-1 Red Sox: Here’s how Chris Sale’s eighth inning went.
Gleyber Torres: Deep flyout to right-center field
Andrew McCutchen (pinch hitter): Groundout to third
Aaron Hicks: Called strike three
Kind of ruthless, actually.
Sale needed just 12 pitches for that one.
The Red Sox are three outs away from eliminating the Yankees. Craig Kimbrel will be facing Judge, Gregorius and Stanton.
Middle 8th, 4-1 Red Sox: Betances got Benintendi to strike out looking. Sort of.
The breaking ball low and away to Benintendi was off the plate, but after taking a beat to analyze the pitch, home plate umpire Angel Hernandez decided it was close enough. Hernandez rung up Benintendi, leaving the bases loaded and keeping the Yankees in this game. Huge call.
The Sox loaded the bases with a Nunez double, a Voit error on a Bradley grounder, and an intentional walk to Betts.
The Red Sox pitcher for the eighth? It’s Chris Sale. This ought to be interesting.
Top 8th, 2 Outs, 4-1 Red Sox: The bases are loaded with two outs for Andrew Benintendi. He has the opportunity to blow this game wide open. Betances as the opportunity to give the Yankees a shot.
End 7th, 4-1 Red Sox: Ryan Brasier was simply impressive. He sat down the Yankees in order. Voit flew out to right, Walker struck out swinging, and Sanchez (who got in the bleeping box) popped out to second base.
Barnes and Brasier needed just 14 pitches apiece to get through their respective innings, and the Sox are now six outs away from winning this series.
Chris Sale is warming up in the bullpen.
Middle 7th, 4-1 Red Sox: Betances gets the job done, inducing a weak inning-ending ground ball to shortstop to get out of the seventh. Martinez did advance to second earlier on a wild pitch in the dirt, but that proved meaningless.
The Red Sox have a three-run lead, and nine outs left to record.
Ryan Brasier is on to pitch the seventh.
Top 7th, 2 Outs, 4-1 Red Sox: David Robertson nearly made it six straight, but he lost J.D. Martinez for a two-out walk. Now on comes Dellin Betances to face Bogaerts.
The inning began with a swinging strike three by Benintendi and a check-swing strike three from Pearce. (Pearce may not have swung, but, well, baseball is baseball.)
End 6th, 4-1 Red Sox: There was some debate out there about whether Alex Cora was right in removing Porcello from this game. Isn’t there always debate? But it was proven to be moot when Barnes went out there and retired the 2-3-4 hitters in order to get this game to the seventh inning.
Judge and Barnes battled, but Judge grounded to shortstop on the seventh pitch of his at-bat. Gregorius followed that up with an infield pop-up, and Stanton grounded out to shortstop.
Middle 6th, 4-1 Red Sox: The Yankees may be down, but the fans in the stadium are starting to believe.
David Robertson gave New York exactly what was needed that inning, quickly mowing down the 8-9-1 hitters and getting the Yankee bats back to the plate. The inning ended with a confused Mookie Betts putting a terrible swing on an inside breaking ball for strike three. That came after Vazquez looked at strike three on the outside corner.
Matt Barnes is now in the game for Boston. Everyone who watched Game 1 knows that now that the game is in the hands of the Boston bullpen, it’s time to tighten up those seat belts. This one might get bumpy.
End 5th, 4-1 Red Sox: The Yankees are on the board. But credit to Porcello for limiting the damage.
Sanchez got the party started for New York by demolishing a pitch to the left-center field gap for a ground-rule double. Torres followed that up with a swinging bunt down the third base line that stayed fair, setting up a one-out opportunity for Gardner with runners on the corners. Gardner was able to get a fly ball out to left field deep enough to score Sanchez on the sacrifice for the Yankees’ first run, but that would be it for New York.
Hicks put a scare into the Red Sox. He laced a line drive down the right field line that looked like it might have been a two-run homer, but it bent just foul before reaching the pole in right. He then battled his way to a full count, but he eventually popped out to shallow right field. Kinsler made the play, and the Sox escaped without further damage.
That inning took a toll on Porcello’s pitch count, but he’s still at just 65 pitches. Cora’s decision on Porcello will depend more on how the manager feels Porcello can do in his third time through the lineup than it has to do with Porcello wearing out.
David Robertson enters for New York.
Middle 5th, 4-0 Red Sox: For the first time since the second inning, the Red Sox didn’t score. Bogaerts did reach on an infield single, off the tip of Britton’s glove, but it proved to be harmless.
End 4th, 4-0 Red Sox: The Yankees had a chance to get on the board, but it falls by the wayside.
Didi Gregorius hit a one-out double to the right-center field gap (Bradley made an unbelievable throw to second base while falling away to right field, seemingly just for practice), but Stanton followed it up with a broken bat groundout to short.
Voit came up with a runner on third and two outs, but he grounded out to Nunez to end the frame.
Middle 4th, 4-0 Red Sox: Make it a four spot for the Sox, after Christian Vazquez deposited a 2-1 slider from Britton into the first row in right field. Finally, the Red Sox have gotten one of those cheap Yankee Stadium home runs that can be so frustrating for opponents.
Britton was able to strike out both Betts and Benintendi after that. Pearce came up with two outs, and he probably should be 3-for-3. But Gregorius made a spectacular diving play to his left, and Voit made a nice scoop at first, to retire the side.
End 3rd, 3-0 Red Sox: The Yankees responded to falling behind by … going down 1-2-3 in the third.
Torres almost had a double to the left-center field gap, but Benintendi tracked it down and made a catch on the run for the first out. Gardner then chopped to second, and Hicks popped out to third.
Porcello’s at 28 pitches, with 24 of them being strikes. He’s on tonight.
Zach Britton is entering in relief for New York.
Middle 3rd, 3-0 Red Sox: It’s an onslaught. Before the Yankees could even take a breath, Eduardo Nunez was attacking a first pitch fastball and lining it over the head of third baseman Neil Walker. Kinsler scored with ease, and it’s 3-0.
Bradley grounded out to first to end the inning, but the Sox are now in a great spot.
That’s probably going to be it for CC. He threw 59 ineffective pitches in the first three innings, throwing just 35 strikes. The Sox tagged him for five hits, two walks and a hit by pitch, and it seemed like only a matter of time before they put some runs on the board. Now that it’s happened, don’t be surprised to see Boone go to his bullpen.
Top 3rd, 2 Out, 2-0 Red Sox: Make that a 2-0 lead. Though Kinsler failed to deliver in the first, he came through with a two-out, RBI double here in the third to bring home Pearce.
Gardner (who seems to catch everything) looked like he might have had this one lined up, but his last-second leaping attempt was not enough to haul it in, as the ball one-hopped the wall.
Top 3rd, 1 Out, 1-0 Red Sox: The Red Sox have the first lead of the ballgame.
It started when Sabathia hit Benintendi in the arm on the first pitch of the inning. Pearce then put together a good at-bat, ultimately winning with another single to shallow center field. Benintendi cruised into third base on the play, and Martinez hit a deep flyball to left-center field that allowed Benintendi to tag and score.
(That was some solid contact by Martinez. Sabathia is lucky it was only a sacrifice fly.)
End 2nd, 0-0: Another quick one for Porcello, though he did allow a two-out single to Neil Walker, a sharply hit ball in front of Betts with an exit velocity of 105.1.
But Porcello came back to get ahead of Gary Sanchez 1-2, and then induced a groundball to short to end the inning.
Porcello started the inning by getting Stanton to ground out to third (nice play by Nunez, ranging to his left), and getting Voit to ground out to third on the first pitch of his at-bat.
Porcello’s needed just 17 pitches to get threw two innings. Fifteen of them have gone for strikes.
Middle 2nd, 0-0: Christian Vazquez managed to work a two-out walk (on five pitches), which turned the lineup over for Betts. He fell behind 0-2 and ended up flying out harmlessly to right to end the frame.
Earlier, Nunez flew out to right, and Bradley struck out swinging.
Sabathia’s thrown 35 pitches, and just 20 for strikes. He has not been sharp, but the Red Sox haven’t taken full advantage just yet.
End 1st, 0-0: Aaron Hicks gave Rick Porcello’s first pitch a ride, crushing it deep to straightaway center field. Based on Hicks’ bat drop, it looked like he believed that he had put the Yankees up 1-0.
But Jackie Bradley nonchalantly tracked it down, making a catch while spinning before backing into the center-field wall. It was one loud out.
Judge then grounded out to short, and Gregorius struck out swinging to end the frame.
Porcello needed just eight pitches (seven strikes) to get through the first. Sabathia threw 20 pitches (12 strikes) in his first.
Middle 1st, 0-0: Right off the bat, the Red Sox got a prime opportunity. Bases loaded. Two outs. At the plate was Ian Kinsler, who was in the lineup in place of Brock Holt, who hit for the cycle last night.
Kinsler didn’t come through. He got under an inside fastball from Sabathia, sending a sky high fly ball down the line in left. It looked like it might have a chance to climb over the wall, but Brett Gardner tracked it down with relative ease to extinguish the threat.
Here’s how the Red Sox got to that situation:
Steve Pearce hit a soft two-out liner into shallow center field for a single, and then J.D. Martinez hit a jam shot to the area that’s normally occupied by the second baseman. But with the shift on, Torres had no chance to track it down and make a throw.
So it was two-on, two-out for Xander Bogaerts. Bogaerts walked on five pitches, never having to take the bat off his shoulders.
Luke Voit had himself a first inning. He scooped a short throw from Didi Gregorius to retire Mookie Betts to start the game, and then after fielding a hot shot from Andrew Benintendi, the first baseman had to win a spring to the bag to beat the batter by about a step.
Of note on the Benintendi play: Sabathia didn’t even make an effort to cover first base. Might the Red Sox try to exploit that lack of mobility by laying a bunt or two down tonight? We know that CC didn’t like it when Eduardo Nunez tried to lay one down last year, so that bears watching.
All in all it was positive for the Red Sox to load the bases after the first two men were retired. But a situation like that producing no runs may look like a missed opportunity, depending on how the rest of the night goes.
Top 1st: Sabathia’s first pitch to Betts is a wild pitch in the dirt for ball one.
This game is underway.
8 p.m.: We’re now just a few minutes away from first pitch, and it looks like everybody warmed up properly tonight. So that’s already a better start for the home team.
4:04 p.m.: And now we have our Red Sox lineup, though Brock Holt is not in it. You know, that guy who hit for the first cycle in MLB postseason history less than 24 hours ago.
1. Mookie Betts, RF
2. Andrew Benintendi, LF
3. Steve Pearce, 1B
4. J.D. Martinez, RF
5. Xander Bogaerts, SS
6. Ian Kinsler, 2B
7. Eduardo Nunez, 3B
8. Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
9. Christian Vazquez, C
— Rick Porcello
As you can see, Ian Kinsler is back at second for Boston. He does have a lengthy history against Sabathia, going 11-or-41 with a double, two homers and four RBIs while drawing three walks.
Holt has only four at-bats against Sabathia, and has yet to collect a hit against the New York lefty. He usually sits against lefties anyways, and if you’ve still got Brock Fever, don’t worry. Chances are he’ll find his way into the game tonight.
A more questionable move is keeping Vazquez in the lineup to catch Porcello, which he did not do during the regular season. But everything seems to be coming up gold for Boston skipper Alex Cora, so we’ll see if this latest round of changes continues that trend.
3:45 p.m.: Game time is inching ever so closer, and we have an actual lineup for tonight! At the moment, it’s just the Yankees lineup as they try to stave off elimination.
Aaron Hicks is back to leading things off for New York after he left Game 1 with a hamstring injury. He doesn’t have great numbers against Porcello, going 4-for-32 with eight strikeouts, but two of those four hits were homers.
Brett Gardner has had the most success of any Yankees player against Porcello, going 16-for-56 (.286) with a pair of homers and five doubles. Giancarlo Stanton, who is 4-for-14 with no RBIs and two runs scored for the series, is 3-for-8 with a pair of doubles in his career against the Boston righty.
10:15 a.m.: Red Sox-Yankees playoff series are always exhausting affairs for everyone involved. But the Red Sox have a chance to end it all tonight.
Doing that won’t be easy, of course. The Yankees are unlikely to show no resistance for a second straight night, not with elimination on the line. But if the Red Sox take the field with the same level of focus and execution that they had in Game 3, the odds are in their favor to take care of this series in four games.
That will depend heavily, of course, on the work of Rick Porcello. Fellow right Nathan Eovaldi set a rather high bar for Red Sox pitching in Game 3, going seven innings and allowing just one run. Porcello hasn’t gone seven innings in a game since Aug. 20, so he’ll have to rediscover what worked for him at times this season.
Porcello made one start at Yankee Stadium this year, allowing five runs (all earned) on eight hits and three walks over 5.1 innings. He made one start at Yankee Stadium in 2017, allowing six runs (five earned) on eight hits and two walks over 6.1 innings. That’s not the most encouraging recent history.
Ditto for Porcello’s playoff career; he’s 0-3 with a 5.33 ERA in 12 postseason appearances (four starts). He pitched decently in some brief action in Game 1 though, allowing a hit after recording two outs in relief. He’s pitched well against the Yankees this year too, outside of that one start in the Bronx. Overall in four starts (one was a tune-up before the season ended), he went 2-0 with a 2.31 ERA and a 0.643 WHIP. He struck out 20 batters while walking just four.
Meanwhile Sabathia was a mixed bag against the Red Sox this season. He was tagged for nine hits and four runs over four innings in early May, but he pitched seven innings of one-run ball in late June. He hasn’t faced Boston since Aug. 2, when he lasted just three innings and allowed two runs on three hits and four walks.
The past won’t matter much though. It’s all about tonight. The Red Sox would save themselves a lot of trouble by taking care of business tonight, but we know the Yankees won’t make it easy for them.
First pitch is at 8:07 p.m. We’ll have updates and analysis all night long right here in the live blog, so check back early and often.