Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |
The Yankees took advantage of a favorable matchup and cashed in with a 6-2 win to tie the ALDS at one apiece in Boston Saturday night...
Gardner the grinder
Aaron Hicks is obviously a much more productive player than Brett Gardner in 2018, but Gardner's entry into the lineup Saturday, courtesy of Hicks' hamstring injury, was at least well-timed. For one, Gardner has better career numbers (.269 to .212 batting average) versus starter David Price.
But perhaps just as important, he is skilled at grinding out long at-bats.
The Yankees' game plan versus any of the Red Sox starters is to drive up their pitch count, and try to feast on the soft bullpen as soon as possible. True to form, Gardner's eight-pitch walk in the second inning was directly related to Price's early exit. Following that base on balls, which came with two outs, Andrew McCutchen singled in two runs, and Alex Cora sprung from the dugout to summon Joe Kelly from the bullpen.
Had Gardner simply made an out, Price would have had at least another inning to settle in. But his tough at-bat turned Saturday into a bullpen game for the Sox.
In his very next at-bat, Gardner saw another eight pitches -- sixteen pitches in two at-bats. This time, he grounded out, but not before making Kelly work hard. The flame-throwing righty was out of the game right after.
"It was a great at-bat," Aaron Boone said. "You know you're always going to get that with Gardy. That was a big at-bat in just kind of setting things up.'
How hot is Judge right now?
Going into this game, Judge was just 2-for-11 (.182) in his career against Price. But he's hot enough right now to destroy pitchers who have owned him. Judge's first-inning home run off Price traveled 445 feet, and left the bat with an exit velocity of 113.3 miles per hour.
Two bad cutters, one bad fastball and another embarrassment for Price
In many ways, Price has enjoyed an impressive career. But as of now, he will be remembered mostly for his postseason failures. That continued in a big way on Saturday, and the reason was simple: Price threw three bad pitches.
One was a cutter to Judge, the other was a cutter to Gary Sanchez, who hit the second home run of the game, and the third was a fastball to McCutchen, which resulted in the RBI single that knocked Price out of the game.
That -- and the aforementioned Gardner walk -- was enough for another humiliation. Price allowed three earned runs in 1.2 innings, and now has a career postseason ERA of 6.02 in 10 playoff starts.
An active night for Sanchez
In addition to hitting two homers, Sanchez brought a little life to the Yankees/Red Sox dynamic in the fifth inning. After stepping out of the batters box several times, Sanchez annoyed reliever Ryan Brasier enough that Brasier motioned for him to step in. Sanchez gestured for Brasier to calm down.
A moment later, when Brasier struck out Sanchez, he pumped his fists. Sanchez stared. It's not exactly Pedro/Zimmer, or even Kelly/Austin, but we'll take it.
More important, for all the debate about whether Sanchez should be the starting catcher for the postseason, he has once again put himself in a position where the value of his offense is overwhelming his shortcomings as a receiver.
Bottom of the Boston order is…no good
J.D. Martinez and Mookie Betts are two of the best hitters in baseball, but the bottom of the Red Sox order is thinner than you might think for a team that won 108 games in the regular season. This helped Tanaka tremendously as he made his way through the Sox' order twice.
After cleanup hitter Xander Bogaerts, the Sox had Mitch Moreland, who had a terrible second half; Eduardo Nunez, ostensibly in the game for his defense at third; a past-his-prime Ian Kinsler; Sandy Leon, literally the worst offensive player in baseball in recent months; and Jackie Bradley Jr.
On Saturday, spots 5-9 in the Red Sox lineup were 2-for-16.
Sox bullpen was….A tiny bit better?
After Price allowed three runs, the Boston bullpen -- subject of much anxiety in New England -- actually performed well for several innings. Kelly, Ryan Brasier, Brandon Workman and Eduardo Rodriguez shut down the Yankees until the seventh, when Sanchez homered off Rodriguez.
Heading into the rest of the series, one plus for the Sox will be that several of their relievers can feel more confident against the Yanks than they did after Game 1. Of course, Rodriguez's failure in that role was a bad development for a team that needs starters to contribute in relief this postseason.
Monster plays McCutchen
Before this year, McCutchen had never played left field in front of Fenway Park's green monster. I asked him before Game 1 if that meant he had to do any extra work or practice there, and he said he wasn't worried about it. But Kinsler's double off the monster in the seventh inning bounced far harder than McCutchen expected, leaving him scrambling.
Boone aggressive with defense again.
As he did in the Wild Card Game, Aaron Boone was extremely proactive in using Adeiny Hechavarria as a defensive replacement. With a two-run lead in the sixth inning, Boone replaced Miguel Andujar in the sixth.