NY Sports Day
Matt Mankiewich

Karpin: The Bronx is Waiting

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The Bronx is waiting and the Red Sox’ season may be about to “take a ride.”

With the Yankees and Red Sox tied at a game apiece and the ALDS venue switching to the Bronx for game three, I harken back to that famous scene from “The Godfather” when Tessio, who betrayed the family, knew it was time to “take a ride.” Boston (Tessio) is coming to the Bronx, surrounded by all those hit men (Yankee fans) who are waiting as a prelude to an ending of Boston’s baseball life, or season as it’s otherwise known. Will the Red Sox “get into the car” or will they be able to avoid “going for a ride” and find the mettle to face this test of adversity and continue their magical season.

The Yankees won game 2 at Fenway to even the American League Divisional Series, with the next two scheduled for Yankee Stadium, a place where it has become very tough to win in October.

Hall oF Famer and Boston Globe Columnist Dan Shaughnessy began his post game two column with, “The Red Sox are playing scared.”

If that is true, then how are they going to be able to handle the pressure cooker that is this latest version of Yankee Stadium. The current building has been criticized for lacking the “mystique and aura,” that was a staple of the original and remodeled Yankee Stadium across the street, but the past two seasons have shown that it can be noisy and intimidating.

I have been to every single post season game since 2009 and the top of the first inning of the 2018 AL Wild Card game was the loudest that I’d ever heard this ballpark. That got Luis Severino going and he set a tone with four solid innings.

I wonder if the Red Sox had the Bronx on their minds before they even took the field for game two. In his pre-game two presser, Red Sox Mgr. Alex Cora made it a point to note how tough it’s been to win a post season game at Yankee Stadium the past two seasons. “They haven’t lost a playoff game in awhile there,” Cora said. “I mean three (it’s only been two but who’s counting) wild card games, they swept the Astros last year, it’s a tough place to play.”

Last season, Cora had a first hand look at what the crowd can do to an opposing team as the first year Red Sox skipper was Houston’s bench coach. “Last year that place was alive,” he said. “We played like four o’clock games, five o’ clock games, since three o clock it was loud from the get go.”

The Yankees won all three ALCS games at Yankee Stadium last season and have won 7 consecutive, post-season, home games the past two years. “I know the rivalry and everything, we played some games there,” said Cora. It’s been loud but nothing like the way it’s gonna be on Monday.”

Boston seems to be to using an indeterminate occurrence, that took place after game two was long over, to motivate themselves as they head towards 161st street Monday night. After Saturday night’s game, Aaron Judge was leaving the Stadium with a “boom box.” As he was walking by the Red Sox clubhouse, Judge was playing a very loud rendition of Frank Sinatra’s famous “New York, New York” song that is heard after games at the Stadium.

If the Yankees go on to win this series, will we look back and say that the tide of the rivalry has shifted back to the pre-2004 days. After all, if Boston does lose, that will mark a third straight season that they failed to advance to the ALCS, not to mention the added disappointment of losing to the Yankees, of all teams. It would be a bitter pill to swallow and would make the impending long winter in New England, that much longer.

Former Yankee Nathan Eovaldi will oppose Severino in game three. Then it’s Rick Porcello against C.C. Sabathia in game four when one team will have a two games to one lead.

Eovaldi pitched a gem against his old team during the Sox’ four game sweep in early August. The hard throwing right hander is good when he gets in a rhythm. That’s what happened at the game in Fenway. The Yankees will need to get Eovaldi out of his rhythm and see if he may just be susceptible to the intimidating atmosphere in the Bronx. “Try not to let the crowd get too crazy and get behind them [the Yankees] to get them going,” Eovaldi said at a pre-game three presser.

The Red Sox will be trying to take the raucous crowd out of it. It’s up to the Yankees to keep them in it.

Gary Sanchez appears to have finally awoken out of his regular season long slumber. As I wrote in my nysportsday.com column, “Release the Kraken to Beat the Red Sox,” Sanchez could be and, so far, has been a key factor in helping the Yankees attempt to get back to the ALCS.

Aaron Judge has been magnificent but he can’t do it all by himself, although it seems that way, at times. Giancarlo Stanton (3 for 10 vs. Eovaldi) needs to get going. Andrew McCutchen is 4 for 7 off Eovaldi and the lineup just looks a whole lot better lately.

The Yankee bullpen has begun to live up to their press clippings so the starters don’t need to do too much, just keep the Red Sox offense to a minimum.

Boston is more than capable of winning one or two games in the Bronx. The Yankees won 6 of 9 games between the teams at Yankee Stadium during the regular season. Do they have the killer instinct to take full advantage of these home games and send the Red Sox packing or will Boston be able to get “off the hook, for old times sake.”

The Bronx is waiting!

Check out our “Pro Baseball Central” podcast. Joe McDonald, Rich Mancuso and I discuss the Yankees before, and after every playoff game


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