The calendar said in October that Bucky Dent was in the stadium, and each team had to win to keep their season alive. It’s been 43 years since Dent’s famous home tour helped the Yankees win the last elimination match between these storied rivals at Fenway Park, and nearly half a century later, Boston finally got a modicum of revenge for that particular game.
This time Xander Bogaerts and Kyle Schwarber hit home from Gerrit Cole, as the Red Sox beat the Yankees, 6-2, in an MLS game. Boston advanced to the Major League Series against the Tampa Bay Rays, the best team in the AL during the regular season.
The Yankees and Red Sox have competed for the AL East title this year, but neither have been able to hold out more than the Rays, who have won 100 games, and their sense of opportunity over the past few weeks means they will face each other in one game on Tuesday. , two imperfect teams hope to fight.
In 1978, they were both strengths.
Boston changed the nature of 21st-century rivalry, bringing their true 1978 revenge by stunning the Yankees in the 2004 MLS Championship Series. But for older Red Sox fans, there is still some unfinished business. The memory of Dent on his turf is still painful, and Tuesday’s game may have provided some long-awaited salve for an old wound.
Cole, a nominal Yankees champ who has had an uneven season, hasn’t made it out of the third inning and probably will hear a lot more about him next year. He signed a nine-year, $324 million contract before the 2020 season, in part because he was expected to win this type of game. But he gave up two home runs to Bogaerts in the first half and a solo shot into the sky to Schwarber in the third.
Next, Cole walked with Raphael Devers, and Yankees manager Aaron Boone walked out of the bunker and took him out. As Cole nervously watched off the bench, right-hander Clay Holmes escaped the crowd, with two men at the base, by hitting Bogaerts and stimulating a double play ball from Alex Verdugo.
Cole’s season was defined by a mixture of controversy and inconsistent performances, which may be related. He’s all admitted that he used Spider Tack on balls to get an unfair advantage with an artificially improved grip, just days before the adhesive was banned from the game. Then, as Cole fell below his abilities, observers wondered if it was because he didn’t have the adhesive, and those doubts could persist into the future.
Perhaps most importantly, Cole injured his left hamstring early in the game against the Toronto Blue Jays on September 7. His average run earned in his next four regular season starts was 6.35, and his troubles continued on Tuesday.
His Boston counterpart, Nathan Evaldi, dominated the Yankees through five rounds, but with one win in the sixth inning, Anthony Rizzo fired a long home run that wrapped around the offending pole in right field. Then Aaron Judge made it to base after a pitch hit, which pulled Boston head coach Alex Cora out of the bunker.
Eovaldi had only let down two powerful hits—a ball from Green Monster by Giancarlo Stanton in the first round and Rizzo on his turf—and the Red Sox Bullpen was choppy, at best, for most of the season. But the Boston relief team has shown improvement in the past few weeks, and Cora has called in Ryan Brazier, one of the team’s most reliable long-term painkillers.
Brasier’s first task was to confront Stanton, who had another shot from Green Monster. Phil Nevin, the Yankees’ third base coach, sent the judge hard home, but Enrique Hernandez sent the ball clean and quickly threw to Bogarts, whose move to catcher Kevin Blawicki was just right in goal.
Brazier got Joey Gallo to get into the final. At the bottom of the inning, Boston regained their lead in three rounds with a double who scored the Bogaerts ahead of the mark.
Tuesday night marked the fifth time the Yankees and Red Sox had played an elimination match, with the winner advancing and the loser’s season over. The first was in 1949 when the Yankees won a tiebreaker in the regular season. Then came the 1978 tiebreak in Game 163. In Game 7 of the 2003 AL Championship Series, Boone, who was the Yankees’ third starter, collided with a pair of Yankees in the eleventh inning off Tim Wakefield.
But in 2004, the Red Sox radically changed the script, coming back from 0-3 down to win that series in seven games. Since then, the nature of the rivalry has changed, with Boston winning four World Series titles, while the Yankees have one, in 2009.
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