(Gary Sanchez watching one of his home runs – @Yankees)
The Yankees, backed by a pair of home runs from Gary Sanchez and one from Aaron Judge, rolled to a 6-2 win over the Red Sox in Game 2 of the ALDS at Fenway Park to even the series.
The Yankees now have a chance to clinch the series at home, as the next two are at Yankee Stadium, Monday and Tuesday nights.
The Yankees were 6-0 at home in last year’s playoffs and won the Wild Card Game at The Stadium Wednesday night, so it is a realistic possibility that they can close it out at home and not have to return to Boston.
It didn’t take long for the Yankees to set the tone in this one against Boston starter David Price, who they have been very successful against this season.
After Andrew McCutchen opened the game with a groundout to third, Aaron Judge launched a blast to deep center field, landing in the last row of the Green Monster seats, to make it 1-0.
Judge homered in the ninth inning on Friday night, so this was his second straight homer in as many at-bats.
In the second, Gary Sanchez crushed a 91-MPH fastball right down the middle to left field over the Monster to make it 2-0.
Price then got Didi Gregorius and Miguel Andujar to ground out, but he then walked Gleyber Torres and Brett Gardner.
McCutchen was up next, and hit a rocket off the Monster, missing a home run by 10 feet.
That scored Torres to make it 3-0 and that was all for Price.
Yankees Manager Aaron Boone said of the Gardner walk being the pivotal moment in terms of knocking Price out of the game, “It was a really good at-bat. You know you’re always going to get that with Gardy. Even at times where it’s been a little up and down for him, that he just has a way of grinding out an at-bat and making the pitcher really work. Obviously that was a big at-bat and just kind of setting things up again, and adding on a little bit there early.”
Price, whose final line was 1-1/3 innings, three runs on three hits and and two walk, and no strikeouts, said of his performance, “It’s tough. You know, just after we won Game 1 to go out there and have that opportunity to go up 2-0. And to throw the baseball the way that I did, it was definitely tough. But my spirits aren’t down, my confidence isn’t down. I’m looking forward to getting back out there and getting another opportunity.”
On if he was surprised to get the quick hook, Price said, “It’s the playoffs. You see it happen all the time, especially over the past couple of years. Managers go into bullpens extremely early. If I don’t like it, I need to pitch better, period.”
Red Sox Manager Alex Cora said of Price’s troubles, “Location. 0-2 or 1-2, back-door cutter to Judge leaves it over on the middle of the plate. Back-door cutter to Sanchez, he was leaning out over the plate and he extended. And McCutchen got on top of a fastball.
“It’s all about location. We can elevate, we’ve been talking about the whole season, when it’s in the same plane. It seems like the velocity was very in the same range as far as like his pitches, they take advantage of it.”
Joe Kelly was first out of the Boston bullpen, and he got Judge to fly out to right to end the second inning.
Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka was cruising until the fourth when Xander Bogaerts homered to center field to get Boston on the board and cut the Yankees’ lead to 3-1.
In the fifth, with Ryan Brasier on for Boston, Judge reached on a throwing error by Sox third baseman Eduardo Nunez, and Luke Voit followed with a walk.
Brasier then struck out Giancarlo Stanton, and after jawing at Sanchez to get in the box, he struck him out on a 97-MPH rising fastball.
In the sixth, Brandon Workman struck out Gregorius looking to open the inning, then gave up singles to Andujar and Torres, and that was it for him.
Eduardo Rodriguez, who is usually a starter, was next out of the Boston bullpen and he got Brett Gardner to pop up, followed by striking out McCutchen on an 89-MPH off-speed pitch that was up and away.
Tanaka was lifted after he pitched a super five innings, allowing one run on three hits and a walk with four strikeouts, enough to earn the win.
Boone said of Tanaka, “Masahiro was terrific. Set the zone. Really efficient with his pitches. Mixing early. Command. The Red Sox, they do a really good job of putting the ball in play, and they can be a tough out, especially even when he’s got his split. But it was five strong innings for us to really set us up in a good position, and fortunately we were able to add on once he got out of there.”
Dellin Betances came in for the Yankees, and he retired Boston in order in the sixth.
Rodriguez stayed on to pitch the seventh for Boston, and Judge reached on an infield single, followed by a walk to Voit.
Stanton then hit one to Nunez, who threw to second base to force out Voit, and he was called safe as the throw sailed on him. After a review,, the call was overturned when it was clear Boston second baseman Ian Kinsler held on to the base while leaping for the throw.
Up next was Sanchez, with two on and one out, and he launched a three-run homer to bust it open and make it 6-1 Yankees.
Sanchez hit a 479-foot blast to deep center (the same spot Judge hit his in the first), and it cleared everything.
Sanchez said of his and Judge’s homers, “I mean, everybody knows that Judge has way more power than me. You know, I don’t have to tell that to anybody. But a homer is a homer. And if we have the opportunity to score runs like that, you know, even if it’s 300 feet, I’ll take it. Anytime we score and we’re helping the team, I’m going to take those.”
Sanchez is now just the second Yankee catcher to have a multi-homer game in the playoffs, joining Yogi Berra, who did it in Game 7 of the 1956 World Series.
Boone said of Sanchez’s big night, “Yes. We know he’s capable of that. And you know, first three games into the playoffs, too, you know, almost more importantly he’s caught really well. I think he’s been really good back there from the receiving, blocking, game-planning, all those kind of things. And then tonight just a monster night. You know he’s capable of that. We all know he’s capable of that. That’s kind of what we’ve been waiting for to some degree where he can take over a game on offense. He was huge, obviously, tonight.”
Cora said of the Sanchez bomb in the seventh, “2-0 change-up, he swings and misses. We try to come in and he missed right down the middle. Sanchez is a guy that fastballs down in the zone he crushes. He didn’t miss that one.”
For Sanchez, this is quite a rebound from a regular season in which he hit .186 with 18 home runs and 53 RBI.
Sanchez said of keeping his confidence up through his troubles on offense and defense, “Well, you know, I always stayed positive throughout the whole season. I know it was a rough season for me. It was a tough one. But you know that’s the regular season, and that’s done. We’re done with that. Now we’re playing the really exciting baseball. So to have an opportunity now to keep on playing and produce at this time it’s actually more important. And, you know, just keep on working and once the offseason comes, try to improve in all aspects.”
Betances stayed on for the bottom of the seventh, and Kinsler got an RBI double to make it 6-2.
Zach Britton worked around a walk to pitch a scoreless eighth, and Aroldis Chapman walked Steve Pearce to open the ninth, then struck out Nunez, and got Kinsler to hit into a double-play to end it.