- The Red Sox demolished the Yankees on every level in Game 3. As much as it's a 15-run win for Boston, it's a 15-run loss for New York, which will be scrutinized for Aaron Boone's decisions and Luis Severino's implosion.
Behind a seven-run fourth inning, a cycle from Brock Holt and a slew of questionable decisions by Yankees manager Aaron Boone, the Red Sox took control of their Division Series against New York with an impressive 16–1 demolition in Game 3. Boston can finish the series on Tuesday night in the Bronx, but before we look ahead to that one, here are three thoughts from a wild rout at Yankee Stadium.
Revamped Red Sox Lineup Goes Nuts
Things looked good for Boston early in Game 1, when the lineup put up five runs in the first three innings. But since that initial outburst, things had gone deadly silent for the Sox, who were shut down the rest of the way in a harrowing win and held in check in the Yankees’ 6–2 Game 2 victory. All told, Boston had managed just two runs in its last 14 innings coming into Game 3, and that lethargic stretch coupled with some poor results from the bottom of the lineup prompted some dramatic changes from manager Alex Cora. For Game 3, he replaced half his starting nine, sitting Ian Kinsler, Eduardo Nuñez, Sandy Leon and the injured Mitch Moreland for Brock Holt, Rafael Devers, Christian Vazquez, and Steve Pearce, respectively.
Those moves paid off in spades. Devers got the scoring started in the second by singling off Yankees starter Luis Severino, stealing second base, moving to third on a flyout, and crossing home on Vazquez’s infield single. Vazquez and Holt ignited the big fourth-inning rally with back-to-back singles off Severino, and it was Holt who put the finishing touches on the frame by tripling in Xander Bogaerts and Pearce, who had himself driven in a run with a single the at-bat before.
That was only the beginning of Holt’s epic night, though. In the eighth, he doubled in a run off lefty Stephen Tarpley, then completed the cycle—the first ever in MLB’s entire postseason history—in the ninth by hitting a two-run homer off catcher (yes, catcher; that’s how bad it got for the Yankees) Austin Romine. Holt finished the evening 4-for-6 with five RBIs; he, Vazquez, Pearce and Devers went a combined 9-for-19 with seven runs scored and eight RBIs.
They weren’t the only offense of the game. Mookie Betts, who had just one hit through the first two games, reached base three times, scored twice, and drove in a pair. Andrew Benintendi broke the game open with a bases-loaded double right after Betts’s walk, and Bogaerts picked up two hits. But getting more production out of the bottom of the order to take the pressure off Betts, Benintendi, Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez was a must for Cora, and his super-subs delivered—and then some—when needed.
Boone’s Blunders Bone Bombers
What had been an otherwise uneventful series for Boone—and one that had required little in the way of difficult decision making—went pear-shaped almost from the get-go, as the rookie manager seemed asleep at the wheel throughout the first few innings.
Coming off a strong (albeit short) wild-card game start last Wednesday, Severino looked off from the first batter, as Betts drilled a fastball 400 feet to centerfield for an out. Virtually everything off the young righty was hit hard: His average exit velocity on the night was 93 mph, and seven of the 14 balls put in play against him left the bat at 100 mph or more. Nor was he fooling anyone, drawing only five swings and misses in his 70 offerings.
Boone would have been justified in pulling Severino in the third, when he gave up a single to Betts and a double to Benintendi to begin the frame, yet he oddly stuck with his starter, who allowed both runners to score on a sac fly by Martinez and a fielder’s choice off the bat of Devers. Severino escaped without further incident, but bafflingly, he was allowed to start the fourth—and even more confusingly, Boone had no one warming up behind him. The hope was to squeeze one more frame out of Severino against the bottom of the order, but that call backfired immediately, as Holt, Vazquez and Jackie Bradley Jr. all reached. With the bases loaded and no one out, Boone finally went out to make a long overdue pitching change.
The first man out of the bullpen in this critical situation, though, wasn’t someone from the Yankees’ seemingly endless cast of super-relievers, but journeyman starter Lance Lynn. The veteran righty admirably and ably ate innings in Game 1, but he’s no one’s idea of a high-leverage reliever. Yet there he was, tasked with getting out of a bases-loaded jam in a three-run game of a tied short series—oh, and to do that, he had to retire the soon-to-be AL MVP in Betts. It was perhaps the worst decision of a night full of bad ones for Boone, as Lynn walked Betts on four pitches to force in the fourth run of the night, then allowed a three-run double to Benintendi to put the game out of reach.
The likely explanation for Boone’s slow hook with Severino was a desire to preserve his bullpen in advance of Tuesday’s Game 4, when 38-year-old CC Sabathia will be on the mound for the Yankees and almost certainly won’t go beyond four or five innings. Yet in managing for tomorrow, Boone screwed up today, sticking too long with his starter and leaning on the wrong reliever at the most important moment. It was a dismal performance on his part, and one that served only to put his team into a 2–1 series hole with a best-case scenario of a do-or-die Game 5 against Chris Sale in Boston on Thursday.
Nate The Great
As important for Cora as his lineup waking up was getting a good performance out of Game 3 starter Nate Eovaldi. Originally set for Game 4, Eovaldi was bumped up a day in order to give some extra rest to scheduled starter Rick Porcello, who was used in relief in Game 1. That proved an unexpectedly good move, as Eovaldi held a powerful Yankees lineup to a single run over seven frames, striking out five. He’s been New York’s kryptonite since joining Boston right before the trade deadline: In his four starts against the Bronx Bombers, he’s allowed just one run over 23 innings for a tidy 0.39 ERA.
Working with triple-digit heat, Eovaldi dialed it up as high as 101 mph with his four-seam fastball and averaged 98.5 on the night. But it was his cut fastball—a recent addition to his repertoire—that made the difference. Eovaldi pumped it in for strikes and used it to handcuff New York’s righty-heavy lineup.
Eovaldi’s brilliant performance also allowed Cora to stay away from a bullpen that was torched in Game 1 and worked heavily in Game 2. As such, he’ll be free to deploy his relievers at will should Porcello—who struggled in the second half—falter early, or push for extra outs from Craig Kimbrel and Matt Barnes should he need them late to punch his team’s ticket to the ALCS.