The Boston Red Sox have again eliminated their historic rivals. The Red Sox defeated the New York Yankees in the AL Wild Card Game (BOS 6, NYY 2) on Tuesday, as they move on to face the Tampa Bay Rays in the ALDS. The Red Sox have now eliminated the Yankees in each of their last three postseason meetings (2004 ALCS, 2018 ALDS, 2021 Wild Card Game).
Gerrit Cole did not have it all Tuesday, surrendering two homers and three runs in two innings plus three batters. It is tied for the shortest start of his career. Xander Bogaerts (two-run) and Kyle Schwarber (solo) took Cole deep. Boston tacked on runs against New York's bullpen late, and the Yankees could only muster Anthony Rizzo and Giancarlo Stanton solo homers in the winner-take-all affair.
The Yankees head home and the Red Sox open the ALDS against the Rays on Thursday at Tropicana Field. For the full bracket and playoff schedule, click here. Here are three takeaways from Tuesday's Wild Card Game.
1. Eovaldi dominates former team
Eleven days ago the Yankees roughed up Nathan Eovaldi, scoring seven runs in only 2 2/3 innings. It was far and away the worst start he's had against his former team. Eovaldi owns a 2.86 ERA in his 14 other appearances against the Yankees. He typically dominates them.
And dominate them Eovaldi did on Tuesday. He held New York to four hits and one run (the Rizzo solo homer) in 5 1/3 innings, including retiring 11 in a row at one point. Manager Alex Cora had a quick hook -- Eovaldi was pulled after only 71 pitches -- though it made sense given his numbers the third time through the order.
In his start 11 days ago, Eovaldi generated only three swings and misses among 59 pitches. His splitter and curveball weren't working that night, but they did on Tuesday, and those 71 pitches included 13 swings and misses, more in line with his 12.5 percent season average.
For his career, Eovaldi now owns a 1.63 ERA in 27 1/3 innings in the postseason. He is well on his way to being one of the best big-game pitchers of his generation.
2. Cole lasts only two innings
Cole struggled to finish out the regular season and he struggled at Fenway Park this year in general, and the Wild Card Game was more of the same. The Red Sox ambushed Cole for two home runs and three runs total in only two innings plus three batters. It is tied for the shortest outing of Cole's career.
Bogaerts clubbed a two-run home run in the first and Schwarber hit a solo homer leading off the third. Both were well-struck.
Bogaerts is only the third righty to hit a home run off Cole's changeup in his career, and the first to do it since 2017. The Schwarber home run came on an elevated fastball and he just went up and got it. Most hitters swing through that pitch or pop it up.
Opponents hit .131 with a .214 slugging percentage in two-strike counts against Cole this year. In the Wild Card Game, Red Sox batters went 2 for 6 with a home run, a double, and two walks in two-strike counts. He just couldn't put hitters away like he usually does.
Between three regular season starts and the Wild Card Game, Cole allowed 15 runs and seven home runs in 18 innings at Fenway Park this year. He allowed 16 runs in 22 2/3 innings in four starts after returning from a hamstring injury in mid-September prior to Tuesday.
3. The Red Sox turned a big relay
When these two clubs met last weekend, the Yankees rallied twice against Boston's bullpen to complete the sweep. They tried to do the same again Tuesday. Rizzo clocked a solo homer in the sixth, then Stanton smashed a rocket off the Green Monster with Aaron Judge at first base.
Off the bat, it looked like it might leave the yard, but the ball hit the top of the wall, and the Red Sox executed a perfect relay to cut Judge down at the plate. Enrique Hernandez to Xander Bogaerts to Kevin Plawecki.
That was, truly, a terrible send. I am generally all for pushing the envelope and forcing the defense to make a play, but with the need for baserunners and only one out in the inning, you have to be 100 percent sure the runner is going to be safe. Yankees third base coach Phil Nevin sent Judge anyway and he was toast.
Here are some Yankees' win probability numbers:
- Before Stanton's hit: 19.3 percent
- After Judge thrown out: 15.2 percent
- If Judge is held at third (runners at corners with one out): 27.9 percent
Stanton advanced to second when Judge went home, though he would have had to hold at first had he been held up, so that's why it's runners on the corners rather than runners at second and third. Point is, that play was a massive swing in win probability.
Appears Aaron Judge is the first Yankees baserunner ever thrown out at the plate on a *base hit* in a winner-take-all game. Others were all on infield groundouts where they took the play at the plate to prevent a run.— Doug Kern (@dakern74) October 6, 2021
That was also the last time the Yankees threatened. Following Stanton's wall-denter in the sixth, 10 of the final 11 men the Yankees sent to the plate made outs. The relay seemed to take the wind right out of their sails.