Red Sox-Yankees series moves to New York
NEW YORK — On Wednesday as the outs accumulated in the wild-card game against the Oakland Athletics, a sellout crowd at Yankee Stadium began chanting “We Want Boston” repeatedly.
By winning Game 2, the Yankees are assured of two games against the Boston Red Sox in the American League Division Series and the winner of Monday’s game will be one game away from clinching a trip to the American League Championship Series.
“I think you know it’s a series that’s capable of going the distance,” Boston star right fielder Mookie Betts said. “I don’t think you expect to sweep. You’ve got two great teams here, it’s a best-of-five. It’s going to be fun.”
The Red Sox opened the series by taking a five-run lead through three innings Friday before holding on for a 5-4 win. The Yankees evened things by getting two homers from Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge’s third homer of the postseason in a 6-2 victory on Saturday.
“It’s been huge,” Yankees reliever Dellin Betances said. “I’ve never played in an atmosphere like playing in New York in the postseason for the last couple of years. It’s been unbelievable. It’s going to be even crazier now that we’re playing Boston.”
The Red Sox are making their first trip to the current Yankee Stadium for a postseason game. The longtime rivals missed playing each other in 2009 and last season when the Red Sox lost in the Division Series.
This time, the first series before the World Series pitting 100-win teams in the wild-card era since 1995, has been defined by the bullpens.
New York’s bullpen posted a 3.38 ERA and struck out 753 in 594 2/3 innings and so far, is living up to its notoriety. In the first two games, it has allowed a run in 10 innings while the Red Sox are 6-for-33 (.182) against Yankee relievers.
Boston’s bullpen posted a 3.72 ERA during the regular season but allowed 32 percent of inherited runners to score and the Yankees are aware of trying to get to it early. In the first two games, the Yankees saw 212 pitches against the relievers and went 10-for-42 (.239) with eight walks.
“You want to affect that bullpen as best we can,” Judge said. “It’s a five-game series, and if we can wear them down and get them using that bullpen early, that’s a good thing.”
Both teams were forced to use their bullpens extensively due to short outings as New York’s J.A. Happ exited after getting six outs in Game 1 while David Price departed after recording five outs Saturday.
Eovaldi was originally slated to start Game 4 but Boston manager Alex Cora opted to save Rick Porcello for then.
Eovaldi will be making his first career postseason start on a familiar mound. Before needing Tommy John surgery in 2016, he was 23-11 with a 4.45 ERA in 51 appearances for the Yankees and is 10-5 with a 3.70 ERA in 26 appearances at Yankee Stadium.
“This is my first postseason start,” Eovaldi said Sunday. “I’m excited. This is what we play for, coming out of spring training and preparing for this moment. I’m excited, ready to go. It’s definitely probably the most important game I’ve ever pitched in.”
The right-hander is pitching for the first time since throwing the first two innings of an 8-5 loss to the Yankees Sept. 29 at Fenway. He faced the Yankees three times after being acquired from Tampa Bay and did not allow an earned run in 16 innings.
“We know he’s going to be throwing hard and he’s going to mix it up,” Cora said. “He’s had success against them. Seems like it’s a good matchup.”
Meanwhile, the Yankees are banking on Severino, who allowed two hits in five-plus innings in the 7-2 win in the wild-card game. Severino won 19 games during the regular season but was 5-6 with a 5.57 ERA in 12 starts after the All-Star break.
Severino went 2-1 with a 2.04 ERA in his final three regular-season starts heading into the wild-card game when he navigated through four walks while throwing 87 pitches.
Now he gets to pitch in New York’s first home postseason game against the Red Sox since the infamous Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS, which was played when the right-hander was a 10-year-old in the Dominican Republic.
“I think at that time I didn’t even have even TV,” Severino said of his memories from the last postseason meeting between the teams. “I’m not even sure. But I think I’ve been shown the highlights. It will be fun. Really fun.”
In the postseason, Severino is 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA in five starts. One of those outings was Game 4 of last year’s ALDS against Cleveland, when he allowed three runs in seven innings.
Severino was 2-2 with a 3.56 ERA in five starts against the Red Sox during the regular season.
Both teams have injury questions with their starting lineups.
New York center fielder Aaron Hicks missed Game 2 with right hamstring tightness and is expected to play Monday. Boston first baseman Mitch Moreland exited Game 2 with the same injury as Hicks after scoring on Ian Kinsler’s double in the seventh.
Hicks and Moreland are considered day-to-day and neither is expected to be removed from the roster.