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Red Sox-Yanks G4: Hicks returns, Holt sits

October 8, 2018

Red Sox manager Alex Cora drew rave reviews for the lineup adjustments he made in Game 3 of the American League Division Series, which wound up as a 16-1 romp over the Yankees. But that didn't stop Cora from making additional adjustments for tonight's Game 4, in which a win

Red Sox manager Alex Cora drew rave reviews for the lineup adjustments he made in Game 3 of the American League Division Series, which wound up as a 16-1 romp over the Yankees. But that didn't stop Cora from making additional adjustments for tonight's Game 4, in which a win will put his team into the AL Championship Series against Houston.
Brock Holt's cycle in Game 3 -- the first in the history of postseason play -- did not earn him a start in Game 4. With lefty Carsten Sabathia on the hill for the Yankees, the Red Sox are going back to Ian Kinsler at second base.
:: ALDS schedule and results ::
"It's a tough league," quipped Cora. "It's more about the guy on the mound. [Sabathia has] been great against lefties. The way we see it is, like, we get him early with the righties or we have to grind with the righties through five. Obviously [the Yankees are] going to be all-in with the righties later on in the game. The way [Aaron Boone] been managing, seems like [Zach] Britton and [Aroldis] Chapman are his late guys. Might get a righty in between there, and we'll go to our options. But we had to take our best shots with the righties in the lineup."
The Yankees, trying to stave off elimination, have also made some changes. Boone will sit AL Rookie of the Year Award candidate Miguel Andujar and Andrew McCutchen, replacing them with Neil Walker and Aaron Hicks, the latter of whom is returning from a right hamstring injury.
The starting lineups
Red Sox: Holt isn't the only contributor from Game 3 who will go back to the bench. Third baseman Rafael Devers, who went 2-for-6 with an RBI on Monday, will be replaced by Eduardo Nunez. And somewhat surprisingly, Cora is sticking with Christian Vazquez, who didn't catch a pitch all season from Game 4 starter Rick Porcello. Sandy Leon has just two hits in his past 52 at-bats, and Vazquez had two hits in the Game 3 blowout.
1. Mookie Betts, RF

  1. Andrew Benintendi, LF
  2. Steve Pearce, 1B
  3. J.D. Martinez, DH
  4. Xander Bogaerts, SS
  5. Ian Kinsler, 2B
  6. Eduardo Nunez, 3B
    8: Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
  7. Christian Vazquez, C
    • Poll: Should Holt have started in Game 4?

Yankees: Aaron Hicks returns to the lineup, having received manager Aaron Boone's stamp of approval after testing his tight right hamstring on the outfield grass prior to Game 3. Hicks' return adds some balance to a lineup that has become exceedingly right-handed heavy with the recent additions of Andrew McCutchen and Luke Voit. McCutchen gets benched with Hicks' return and Brett Gardner takes over in left field. Voit drops to fifth in the batting order. Neil Walker will play third base, replacing Miguel Andujar in the lineup.
1. Aaron Hicks, CF

  1. Aaron Judge, RF
  2. Didi Gregorius, SS
  3. Giancarlo Stanton, DH
  4. Luke Voit, 1B
  5. Neil Walker, 3B
  6. Gary Sanchez, C
  7. Gleyber Torres, 2B
  8. Brett Gardner, LF
    Yankees pushed to brink after Game 3 blowout
    Who are the starting pitchers?
    Red Sox: What a time this would be for Porcello to notch his first career postseason victory. Porcello is 0-2 with a 5.85 ERA in four postseason starts. He got two big outs for the Red Sox in relief in the 5-4 win in Game 1. Porcello was tremendous against the Yankees this season, going 2-0 with a 2.31 ERA in four starts.

Yankees: You know that the moment will not be too big for left-hander Sabathia (9-7, 3.65 ERA), who is putting the finishing touches on a lengthy career that will invite conversations about the Hall of Fame. That's not foremost in the Yankees' minds as they send him to the hill, however; he's tasked with getting through the Red Sox order at least once and helping Boone get the ball to the vaunted bullpen.

How will the bullpens line up after the starter?
Red Sox: Thanks to Nathan Eovaldi coming up huge with seven sparkling innings in Game 3, the Red Sox didn't use any of their leverage relievers. Cora will save the most important bullpen outs of the game for Matt Barnes and Craig Kimbrel. The two hard-throwing righties didn't pitch in Game 2 either, and they could each be asked to go more than one inning. Lefty David Price is also available, and it will be interesting to see how Cora might deploy him, given his considerable struggles at Yankee Stadium over the past three seasons.
Ace Chris Sale, who won Game 1 and would start Game 5 if necessary on Thursday, has been itching to face a batter or two in Game 4. However, Cora sounds as if he's leaning against such a move.
"Chris, he's been talking a lot the last two days about possible scenarios tonight," said Cora. "I don't know. He's ready to go Game 5. But he feels he can pitch today. We'll see. We talk about it, and I talked to [pitching coach] Dana [LeVangie]. We'll sit down after batting practice. It would have to be something that is too perfect. We'll talk. The chances are very slim."

Why is Cora against pitching Sale, even if only for a batter or two?
"I think just the fact that we earned a mulligan and he's our best guy," Cora said. "You've just got to be careful. It's baseball. Any given night, somebody gets hit and all of a sudden you burn him, and then what?"
Yankees: It is all hands on deck for the Yankees, as there is no tomorrow if they don't win this one. In an ideal world, Boone would get at least three innings out of Sabathia, then move the ball from Dellin Betances to Player Page for David Robertson, then finish up with Zach Britton and Albertin Chapman. Betances could provide multiple innings, as could Robertson, while Chapman would gamely take on more than three outs. Boone said that he sees J.A. Happ as an option in the event of extra innings.

Are there any relievers who are unavailable?
Red Sox:
The only relievers who pitched in Game 3 were Richard Hembree and Eduardo Rodriguez, who threw 15 pitches each. Cora will have the entire bullpen at his disposal for Game 4.
Yankees:Jonathan Holder (38 pitches) and Stephen Tarpley (31 pitches) were taxed heavily in Game 3. Lance Lynn (16 pitches) and Chad Green (29 pitches) also worked in relief of Severino, though those two hurlers both were said to be available for work in Game 2 after they pitched behind J.A. Happ in Game 1.
Any injuries of note?
Red Sox: First baseman Mitch Moreland is still iffy with a right hamstring injury he sustained in Game 2. Moreland wouldn't have started anyway against Sabathia. He could be available to pinch-hit.
Yankees: Now that Hicks is back, the Yankees do not have any other significant concerns at the moment. Gregorius is continuing to receive treatment on his right wrist, but he is playable.
Who is hot and who is not?
Red Sox: Holt is smoldering hot. In his past 47 at-bats dating back to Sept. 11, the left-handed hitter has a slash line of .447/.500/.894 with five homers and 17 RBIs. In 13 at-bats as a pinch-hitter this season, Holt hit .385 with two doubles, two homers, seven RBIs and a 1.621 OPS. Nunez was 0-for-7 in the first two games. Kinsler is hitting .156 with a .462 OPS in his past 45 at-bats.

Yankees: Maybe the only bright spot offensively for the Yankees in Game 3 was that Stanton hit the ball hard twice, knocking a pair of singles. He's now 4-for-14 in the ALDS, and is hitting .357/.402/.631 in 21 games vs. the Red Sox in 2018. Judge is 10-for-28 with four homers and 12 RBIs in eight career home playoff games. Torres has hit safely in all three ALDS games.

Anything else fans might want to know?
The pressure continues to shift from one team to the other in this series. Now, the Yankees find themselves on the brink of elimination. In the history of best-of-five series with the 2-2-1 format, clubs with a 2-1 lead going into Game 4 on the road have taken the series 19 of 27 times (70 percent). Of those 19 series victories, 15 ended in Game 4.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch** and on Facebook.