The Boston Red Sox jumped out to a 5-0 lead early against New York Yankees in Game 1 of the ALDS, but the Yankees really made them sweat, starting in the sixth inning. Aaron Judge hit a solo home run off Chris Sale in the ninth, but Boston would go on to hold off New York and pick up a 5-4 victory to take a 1-0 series lead. Here are seven things to know:
Just Dingers happened early
It didn't take long for J.D. Martinez to do his thing. With two runners on the bottom of the first, Just Dingers showed his stuff:
After a regular season with 43 home runs and an MLB-best 130 RBI, this was a mere continuation for the slugger.
Sale had velocity, but not best stuff
Heading into the series, there was much ado about Red Sox ace Chris Sale's dropped velocity and arm injuries in the second half of the season, namely in his final tune-up for the playoffs. The Red Sox insisted the significant drop in velocity in the last start was due to a mechanical flaw and that it would be fixed. I guess we've got to take them at their word, and struck out the side in the first inning.
Still, he wasn't the overly dominant Sale we saw in the first half. He only managed to get through 5 1/3 innings, being chased in the sixth after a pair of singles. He needed 93 pitches to get through those 5 1/3 innings and allowed five hits and two walks. The two runs he left behind would score, so the game ERA was 3.38. He did strike out eight, so that was good. It just wasn't Cy Young-level work from Sale.
He did get deeper than we've been seeing Red Sox starters go:
Sale is through two scoreless innings in 34 pitches. No Red Sox starter has pitched more than 5 innings in a playoff start in the last two years.— Alex Speier (@alexspeier) October 6, 2018
Yankees mounted huge threats in sixth, seventh and ninth
After Sale left with runners on first and second, Luke Voit singled home one and a fielder's choice plated another. Then, Miguel Andujar and Gary Sanchez drew walks to load the bases for rookie Gleyber Torres. All of a sudden, in an inning that started 5-0 with Chris Sale on the mound, the Yankees had the go-ahead run at the plate. Torres hit 24 homers in 431 at-bats in the regular season, too. He'd get the count to 3-1, too, but eventually strikeout.
In the seventh, Andrew McCutchen and Aaron Judge singled before a Brett Gardner walk and the Red Sox were in deep trouble with the bases loaded and no out. Despite not having very good command -- which is a somewhat normal issue with him -- Matt Barnes was able to get Giancarlo Stanton for a strikeout before a pair of grounders ended the inning. The first grounder did score one, cutting it to 5-3. Judge homered in the ninth to cut the deficit to one run before Craig Kimbrel struck out the final three to end the game. It's safe to say there were plenty of missed opportunities throughout the game for the Yankees.
From the Red Sox point of view, it was crisis averted. Thrice.
The Red Sox used their Game 3 starter
In a weird and fun little twist, Rick Porcello came in for the eighth inning. He was scheduled to pitch Game 3 of this series, but the bullpen was too shaky in front of Kimbrel and manager Alex Cora decided to go with a reliable arm.
Porcello got a weak grounder from Andujar and a hard lineout from Sanchez before Torres got on with an infield hit. Kimbrel was then summoned to get the final four outs. He got McCutchen to fly out and end the eighth.
We'll see how the series unfolds, but for now, it looks like the right decision by the first-year manager Cora.
Happ hooked early
Yankees starter J.A. Happ had been very good since they acquired him from the Blue Jays, but the Red Sox had his number in Game 1. With a deep bullpen and Sale being on, Yankees manager Aaron Boone went with a quick hook and pulled Happ with runners on first and third and no outs in the third inning.
Both of those runners would end up scoring, so Happ's final line is pretty ugly: 2 IP, 4 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 2 K.
It'll be interesting to see if this gets to five games if the Yankees want him to take that start after what we witnessed Friday night in Fenway.
Possible AL MVP does it all in third
If I had to guess, I'd say Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts will win the AL MVP thanks to his all-around greatness this season. It was on display in Game 1.
Betts flashed his defensive prowess in the top of the third, running down a liner near the right-field line. In the process, he thought he had a shot at nailing the runner before he got back to first base. Betts made the catch nearly at full speed, whirled and threw a strike on a fly to first base. The runner beat the throw by a hair, but it was ridiculous.
Betts then led off the bottom of the inning with a double high off the Green Monster in left-center and then scored a run later in the inning to make it 4-0. Betts' double came with two strikes, though that shouldn't be a surprise. He's an excellent two-strike hitter. Check this out:
Betts with a two strike double to lead off the inning.— Inside Edge (@InsideEdgeScout) October 6, 2018
He slugged .545 (151 total bases in 277 ABs) with two strikes this season -- best in MLB; League Avg: .305.
That would be the 10th best SLG overall in MLB.
Game 2 coming Saturday
At 8:15 p.m. ET Saturday in Fenway Park, we get part two of the series. The Red Sox are looking to take a menacing 2-0 lead while the Yankees evening things up would be a win heading back home to the Bronx. Masahiro Tanaka (12-6, 3.75) gets the ball for the Yankees while it's David Price (16-7, 3.58) looking to establish that he can dominant in the playoffs.
So who wins every playoff game? And which teams are a must-back? Visit SportsLine now to get MLB Playoff picks from the proven model that simulates every game 10,000 times, and find out.
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