Is it possible that we just saw two different games last night between the Yankees and Red Sox?
Game one saw Chris Sale dominate a powerful Yankee team. With a clever mix of 96 to 98 mph heaters, occasional 78 mph curve and nasty change ups and sliders that looked like they were being thrown from first base. His Randy Johnson type of intimidating snarl and deceptive delivery was too much to have to deal with. A walk or weak single was just not going to get it done for the Bombers having to face this monster.
On the other side, J.A. Happ, who has had success verses the Sox having a 3-1 record and 1.94 ERA over the past 2 years, had trouble getting out of the first inning. A single, a walk and a pitch down and in to J.D. Martinez for a three run homer over the Green Monster and just like that, the game was over. I mean the way Sale was mowing down the Yankee order, it was see you tomorrow in game 2.
Then with Red Sox nation laughing and chanting their best derogatory Yankee put downs, things began to unravel for the hometown “bean eaters.” When Sale put two runners on with one out in the 6th inning he hit his magic number of 93 pitches. You know, when a pitcher’s arm will fall off if he attempts just one more. So after a dominating night where he scattered 5 hits with 8 strikeouts over 5.1 innings, the monster was gone.
Enter the achilles heel, the weak link, the chink in the armor of these 108 win Red Sox, the bullpen. So now game two of game one begins. Sale was replaced by Ryan Brasier who faced Luke Voit. The rookie hit the first pitch he saw for a run scoring single and you could see the Sox fans begin to get a little edgy in their seats. Voit is my pick to be the difference maker for the Yankees this post season.
The Yankees were able peck away over the next 3 innings to get it to 5-3. Then in the 9th, after an Aaron Judge home run to lead off the inning made it a 5-4 game with none out and the meat of the order coming up, things looked scary for the Sox fans. The only possible problem here would be Brett Gardner who had to replace Aaron Hicks in the in the 4th inning after he led off with a hard single to right and had to leave the game with a hamstring injury. Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel struck out the next three batters including Giancarlo Stanton who fanned for the 4th time in the game. Stanton needs to stop looking at three pitches down the middle of the plate once in a while if the Yanks are going to move on in the playoffs. The Yankee slugger left five men on base last night
The Red Sox can be beat but in a five game series but being down one game to none leaves little room for lackluster performances. Once the Sox bullpen was exposed the Yankees took advantage of that but they need Stanton to dominate in the box like Sale did on the mound or this series is over soon.