The Red Sox weren’t actually on the ropes heading into Game Three in New York on Monday night, but it sort felt like they were. The Yankees had the momentum not only from Game Two but also the second half of Game One, and if they jumped out to an early lead it felt like it could be tough to come back from. Boston never really had to worry about that, thankfully. The Red Sox jumped out to an early lead, then put on the finishing touches with a seven-run fourth and that was that. Brock Holt hit for the cycle, the offense in general was bananas, and Nathan Eovaldi was phenomenal. Everything was pretty much perfect, is what I’m trying to say. With that in mind, here’s what I can’t get out of my head after the brilliant victory.
- I have to start not with Holt or Eovaldi, but with Alex Cora. In the previous two iterations of this post following the two games at Fenway, I lobbed plenty of criticism at the Red Sox manager. Well, today we have to give credit where it’s due and acknowledge that Cora made two key pregame decisions that directly led to this victory. One of those decisions was one that I and the majority of other Red Sox fans agreed with in changing up the lineup. Cora got Holt, Rafael Devers, Steve Pearce and Christian Vazquez into the game against the right-handed Luis Severino. It was surprising to many that the first two, at least, weren’t in the Game Two lineup, but Cora switched it up here and it sparked the offense in a major way. Additionally, Cora somewhat shockingly pushed Rick Porcello back to Game Four in favor of Eovaldi in Game Three. This one I was not a big fan of, being wary of using the small sample of Eovaldi against the Yankees in such a pivotal matchup. Well folks, Alex Cora might be smarter than me! Eovaldi did everything he could to prove he deserved this start, and now Boston has Rick Porcello and Chris Sale lined up for the final two games of this series needing one win, and the bullpen is totally fresh. Cora played this game perfectly.
- On the other side of things, the Yankees’ first-year manager had a disastrous day the office. Aaron Boone made a couple of key decisions that turned this game into an utter blowout. The Red Sox deserve more credit than the Yankees deserve blame in this writer’s totally unbiased (Note: I am the opposite of unbiased) opinion, but Boone did not help matters. Really, the bulk of the criticism boils down to that fourth inning when the Yankees manager was managing like it was a random game in June. Luis Severino clearly didn’t have it in this game, yet he started that inning. It was somewhat defensible with the bottom of Boston’s lineup coming up, but Boone should have had someone ready for the first baserunner. Instead, Severino was allowed to load the bases without recording an out. Then, Boone’s real blunder came through when Lance Lynn entered the game. For some reason the Yankees manager never started warming up one of his closer-caliber relievers (of which he has plenty) and was caught with his pants down being forced to use a starting pitcher-turned-long reliever in the most important situation of the game. Lynn, of course, did not come through, and eventually Chad Green came on. Now, the latter didn’t look great either, but there’s no doubt the order of their appearances should have been flipped. The battle of the managers has been a big narrative for this series. Cora won in a big way on Monday.
- Nathan Eovaldi was absolutely incredible, and he is getting a lot of deserved love for this performance. As many have pointed out, this was the best start the Red Sox have gotten in the postseason since 2013. He came out firing after getting some extended rest, but the velocity wasn’t what impressed me the most. Instead, he seemed much more willing and adept at mixing his velocity and location in this game. We’ve seen both versions of Eovaldi in his half-season in Boston, and the key is that hitters can’t just sit on that triple-digits fastball. When they have to consider the possibility of his cutter (which was disgusting in this game) and his splitter, that fastball gets into the zone even more quickly and Eovaldi, well, he looks like he did in this game. Great game for him, and credit to Christian Vazquez for calling a great game.
- There’s not too much to say about Brock Holt’s historic night. He made great contact consistently, was a big part of that breakout fourth inning, and his defense shouldn’t be overlooked either. If there was any apprehension about his presence in the lineup it was due to his glove being in there instead of Ian Kinsler’s. However, what stood out the most to me about Holt’s Monday was his postgame interview. We all know he’s the “glue guy” in this clubhouse, but it’s still striking to see just how much adulation he gets from his teammates. The interview was interrupted a few different times by Red Sox players with some of the biggest smiles they’ve ever seen. If anyone was going to have this kind of game, I’m glad it was Holt.
- In general, the offense showed what it can do on Monday even when they’re not hitting home runs. Before Holt’s ninth-inning blast to give him the cycle, the Red Sox hadn’t hit a dinger all night and yet had still scored 14 runs. Obviously, no one is going to complain if they come out slugging on Tuesday, but they don’t have to. This is a well-rounded offense that manufactured some runs with productive outs and strong baserunning early in this game. I’ll take the home runs over that, but in the playoffs you have to be able to win with different styles. Monday was a reminder that they can do just that.
- Apparently, Luis Severino didn’t know what time the game started and didn’t begin his warmup until ten minutes before scheduled first pitch. After the game he insisted that he does that sometimes but....nah. I don’t understand how this happens, and to me this is on the Yankees coaching staff as much as it is on Severino. Either way, that’s a thoroughly embarrassing moment for New York and I enjoyed it a whole lot.