October 5-WILD CARD GAME
The winner of this game will move on to the ALDS, and the loser will be done until next year. Jerry Remy, who played for the Sox in 1978, when these two teams met in the elimination game, and who is now in the Red Sox broadcast booth but is on leave because of his lung cancer, is driven out on the field via golf cart to throw out the first pitch. Eckersley, who pitched for the Sox in the 70s and is Remy’s stand-in in the booth, catches it. Eovaldi pitches for the Sox against Cole. Nasty Nate gets through the first inning in just 11 pitches, a wonderful sight for fans of a Sox team that has serious bullpen issues. Eovaldi almost instantly gets a lead. With a runner at first and two out in the bottom of the first, Bogaerts jacks a long ball into center to give Boston a 2-0 lead, a crucial element of a playoff game, especially one with so much on the line and especially against a lineup as potent as New York’s. With one out in the bottom of the second, Plawiecki doubles to right, but he is stranded. Schwarber leads off the bottom of the third by extending the Boston lead to 3-0 with a homer to right. The Sox put two on with nobody out in the bottom of the third, chasing the Yankees’ prized ace in the process. That’s all they get. Meanwhile, Eovaldi’s pitching is very precise and conservative, as he throws only 64 pitches in the first five innings against a dangerous Yankee lineup. Anthony Rizzo finally gets to him in the sixth, hitting a one-out solo homer around the Pesky Pole to make it 3-1. Naturally, he’s booed as he rounds the bases. Despite having thrown just 71 pitches, Eovaldi is pulled by Cora after an infield single. I would have left him in, but what do I know? Then Stanton doubles off the Monster. Judge tries to score from first, only to be gunned down by relay man Bogaerts for the second out. What a throw, and what a way to reenergize the Boston crowd! It’s hard to get Judge out, since his legs alone are about as long as the Hancock building! With that outfield assist, the Sox don’t allow any more runs in the inning.
The Sox answer right back in the bottom of the inning with a Verdugo double to right with one out that allows Bogaerts to score from first and make it 4-1. The Yankees change pitchers right away, only to have Loaisiga walk the first man he sees to put two on, after which he retires the next two men as the Sox miss the opportunity to bust this one wide open. Eight straight balls put two on with one out in the bottom of the seventh, and it’s curtains for Loaisiga. Another four-pitch walk loads the bases with two out for Verdugo, who opens it up with a single to center that allows Schwarber and Hernández and open things up at 6-1. Verdugo is thrown out trying for second to end the inning. At this point, New York has allowed seven walks. According to ESPN, that’s the most they’ve ever allowed in a win-or-go-home scenario. The Yankees have no intention of going quietly, with Stanton hitting a one-out solo homer around the Pesky Pole in the ninth to make it 6-2. That’s as close as they come, with back-to-back fly outs ending the Yankees’ season and extending their World Series drought to 12 years. The Sox, meanwhile, move on to face the Rays on Thursday.