Every other divisional series ended before Tuesday, but there was but one lingering and unfinished and it happened to be the Red Sox and Yankees. Game 4 was Tuesday in the Bronx and followed an absolute bloodbath of a Game 3 in the form of a 16-1 Red Sox win. This one was a bit more competitive at 4-3 (box score) and the Yankees mounted a serious threat in the ninth. As a result, the Red Sox are in the ALCS where they'll meet the Astros, and the Yankees are eliminated.
Let's run it down with everything you need to know about Game 4.
Sabathia plays with fire and Red Sox strike first
In a 20-pitch first inning, CC Sabathia found a way to leave the bases loaded after a hard single, an unlucky infield single and walk. In the second inning, he walked the nine-hole hitter with two outs in front of Mookie Betts, but got the out. Things finally caught up with him in the third. He hit Andrew Benintendi with a pitch in front of a Steve Pearce Texas Leaguer, moving Benintendi all the way to third. J.D. Martinez would hit a sac fly -- just shy of the warning track -- and the Red Sox had drawn first blood.
It should be noted that David Robertson was up in the Yankees bullpen during this time. .
Chris Sale pitched in relief
That was fun. It seems that a lot of people think it's really risky to go with the ace in relief in an elimination game, but I love it. It's like seeing an animal walk on its hind legs or something. Sale got a deep flyout, a soft bouncing ball for a groundout and a looking strikeout in the eighth inning to get the ball to closer Craig Kimbrel with a three-run lead. He only needed 13 pitches and he'll be more than fine to start Game 1 of the ALCS on Saturday.
The Yankees nearly pulled it off in the ninth
Man, what a bottom of the ninth. Kimbrel got the ball with a three-run lead but didn't have his command. Aaron Judge walked on four pitches. Didi Gregorius singled and all of a sudden, the tying run was at the plate and it was Giancarlo Stanton. He struck out, but then Luke Voit walked to bring the winning run to the plate. And then Neil Walker got hit by a pitch. Amazingly, it was now 4-2 and Gary Sanchez could win the game with a grand slam. He could have even won it with a well-placed double. A single probably ties it.
Sanchez came within a few feet of winning the game. He settled for a warning track sacrifice fly, cutting the lead to one.
Gleyber Torres was next and he almost had another infield single. Eduardo Nunez made a very play to get Torres by around a half step. The play was reviewed, but it was the correct call.
Again, what a half inning. That was as fun as baseball gets.
Vazquez homered to the right part of the stadium
How about a Christian Vazquez.for Red Sox catcher
Hey, they're all playing with the same dimensions.
Yankees also had a big chance in the fifth
Sanchez came through with a one-out double and then Torres hit a soft tapper down the third base line for an infield hit. How do you get back in games with a four-run deficit? Club a three-run homer. Brett Gardner would hit a sac fly, but then Aaron Hicks' rocket down the right-field line hooked foul and he'd end up popping out. The threat produced one run, but really kind of fizzled. Chalk it up to another missed opportunity, because ...
... One team got the job done with RISP this series
That team is the one moving on. Check out by game what each team did with runners in scoring position:
Yankees 1 for 7
Red Sox 3 for 6
Yankees 2 for 10
Red Sox 0 for 2
Red Sox 9 for 20
Yankees 0 for 4
Red Sox 2 for 7
Yankees 1 for 5
The Yankees were 4 for 26 (.154) while the Red Sox were 14 for 35 (.400).
RISP stats shouldn't be used as predictive, but they can help tell the story of how we got here. We got a Red Sox 3-1 series win in part because they got the job done with runners on second and/or third base.
The Yankees led the majors in home runs this season with 267. In this four-game series, they hit just four, with three of those coming in their Game 2 victory. It was all Judge and Sanchez with two homers each.
As noted above, hitting home runs is the easiest way to get back in games when trailing and it just wasn't happening for the Yankees in this series. You have to credit the Red Sox pitching here as much as you blame the Yankees hitters. Also of note: Zero extra-base hits this series for Stanton, Voit, Miguel Andujar and Torres.
Efficient Porcello dominant through four
Porcello only needed 65 pitches to get through five innings and, especially in the early going, the Yankees didn't make him work too hard. He only needed eight pitches to get through the first, for example. Through four scoreless innings, Porcello had only allowed two hits (both singles) and only needed 41 pitches in the process. He just sliced right through them in the first four.
Red Sox outfield defense was on display early
The outfield of Benintendi, Jackie Bradley and Betts covers as much ground out in the outfield as any trio in baseball. It was on display in the first three innings Tuesday. Yankees leadoff man Aaron Hicks crushed one to deep center on his first at-bat, but Bradley ran it down. What he did was usually a home run, too:
Then, leading off the bottom of the third, Torres hit a rocket that should have been in the left-center gap for extra bases. Instead, Benintendi ran it down for the out.
MVP: J.D. Martinez
There aren't official MVPs in the LDS, but we like to name them for fun. I'll go with Martinez here. He set the tone with a three-run homer in the first inning of Game 1 and drove home the first run in Game 4 with a sac fly. In all, he had six RBI while hitting .357/.421/.571.
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.
Next up: ALCS
The Red Sox advance to an absolutely loaded American League Championship Series. The 103-win Houston Astros are the defending World Series champions but are also the team hitting the road for four of the seven games, thanks to the Red Sox being five whole games better. Game 1 is Saturday, Oct. 13 and it'll most likely be Chris Sale vs. Justin Verlander. Hoo boy! Bring it on.
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