Sox one win from ALCS after rout in the Bronx
NEW YORK -- They were revved up and primed for a party at Yankee Stadium on Monday night. But the man who turned down the noise and reduced the pressure for his team was Nathan Eovaldi.
The flame-throwing righty -- who was bumped up a day early in a bit of a surprise move by manager Alex Cora -- mowed right through the powerful Yankees lineup in his career postseason debut while helping the Red Sox to an impressive 16-1 romp over their rivals in Game 3 of this American League Division Series. Boston now leads the series, 2-1.
"Warming up before the game, the crowd was pretty relentless down there in the bullpen area," said Eovaldi. "I think once you get going and you get that first pitch out of the way, you're able to settle down and it's just another game. You go out there and you try and attack the hitters. I was effective, I felt like, from the first pitch on, and we were able to get some quick outs and get back to the dugout."
The other headliner for the Red Sox was Brock Holt, who became the first player in postseason history to hit for the cycle. It was quite a night for Holt, who didn't play in the first two games of the series.
If you include the postseason, Holt is now the 26th player in history to hit for cycle more than once. He completed the unlikely feat by mashing a two-out, two-run homer against position player Austin Romine in the top of the ninth.
"Well, obviously, yeah, I knew I needed a home run," said Holt. "I saw Romine was on the mound. So you get a little antsy when a position player is on the mound. I told everyone, 'Get me up. I need a home run for a cycle.' I scooted up in the box a little bit, and I was going to be swinging at anything and try to hook anything. Obviously you don't expect to hit a home run, but I was trying to."
Holt's milestone was the capper on a night everything went right for the Red Sox.
Boston's 16 runs is the most lopsided road win in postseason history. The previous record was 14, done twice. In Game 5 of the National League Championship Series in 1996, the Braves beat the Cardinals, 14-0, while the Yankees beat the New York Giants, 18-4, in Game 2 of the 1936 World Series.
The outburst came on a night Cora made four lineup changes, inserting Holt, Steve Pearce, Rafael Devers and Christian Vazquez, all of whom made important contributions.
"I guess he's got the crystal ball or something, huh? I don't know. He's been doing it all year," Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez said of his manager. "He mixes it up. I think he's got faith in everybody in here."
It was also Cora who chose to adjust from his original plan and pitch Eovaldi in Game 3 instead of Rick Porcello, who will instead get the nod in Game 4. The reason for the switch is that Porcello got two outs in relief to help Boston win Game 1. It was another move that worked to perfection for the first-year manager.
As former Yankee Eovaldi (seven innings, five hits, one run, no walks, five strikeouts) set the tone early, the Red Sox took a sledgehammer to Yankees ace Luis Severino, knocking him out in a seven-run fourth inning that gave the visitors a 10-0 lead.
"Lights-out," Martinez said. "That was honestly the performance we needed coming in here, and he stepped up and he did it."
Eovaldi (97 pitches, 72 strikes) came into this one with eight days of rest, and it showed. According to Statcast™, he fired seven pitches at 100 mph or more, the most by a traditional starting pitcher in any MLB game this season. Eovaldi, who averaged 98.5 mph on his four-seamer and topped out at 101, has allowed just one earned run over 23 innings against the Yankees since he joined the Red Sox at the end of July.
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When asked what he expected out of Eovaldi in Sunday's off-day news conference, Cora somewhat light-heartedly said, "Seven innings, two hits, one run."
He wasn't far off.
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"It was a special moment for me," Eovaldi said. "I don't think it's really quite settled in yet. To be able to pitch the way I did and then for us to score as many runs as we did, it was a big game for us tonight. We needed to win this one going into tomorrow. Hopefully we'll be able to clinch here tomorrow and move on to the next round."
Coming off a 6-2 loss in Game 2 that deadlocked the series, Boston stole back the momentum and reclaimed home-field advantage by putting a hurting on the Bronx Bombers in this one. The pressure is now squarely back on the Yankees, who must win Game 4 tonight to stave off 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.
"We're very excited," said Mookie Betts. "It doesn't matter if it's at home or on the road, we just have to win one game to advance to the next round, something we haven't done in the last couple of years, so we'll be excited and ready to go."
After chipping away off Severino for a 3-0 lead through three, the Red Sox erupted with that stunning rally in the fourth to turn the game into a blowout.
In the inning, the Red Sox sent 11 batters to the plate and had six hits -- none of them homers. Holt capped the damage with a two-run triple to right to make it 10-0.
At that point, it seemed like the only thing you could hear at Yankee Stadium was the Red Sox crushing the baseball.
"You've just got to stay in the moment," said Cora. "Just don't get too overhyped because we're playing the Yankees and it's loud. Just keep it simple. Win every pitch, and tonight we did."
All nine Boston starters had at least one hit, marking the seventh time in history the club has done that in a postseason game -- and the third time it's happened in the Bronx.
Holt, who didn't play in the first two games, led the charge offensively by going 4-for-6 and driving in five. Benintendi also had three RBIs. Betts set the tone at the top with two runs, two hits and two RBIs. Xander Bogaerts, Devers and Vazquez all had multihit games as the Red Sox resembled the balanced team that won 108 games during the regular season.
"I felt like our offense, we were able to score some runs early, which made it easier for me to pitch," Eovaldi said. "I feel like my fastball command and my cutter were really effective tonight, and I was just trying to use their aggressiveness against them and try and get some quick outs."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Benintendi blows it open: The first four batters of the fourth inning had already reached when Benintendi turned a baseball game into a blowout, pummeling a three-run double down the line in right against Lance Lynn to make it 7-0. In 23 career games at Yankee Stadium, Benintendi has a .953 OPS.
"He had just walked Mookie on four pitches, and he threw the first pitch," said Benintendi. "It was a ball. I mean, at that point, you pretty much can bank on if it's going to be a fastball, it's going to be something to hit. I fouled it off. After that, I think I swung at the next pitch out of the zone, and I was trying to stay short and just put the ball in play and hopefully get something to the outfield and at least get one run in. I hooked it down the right-field line, and I was fortunate enough to keep it fair."
This was just the fourth game in postseason history to be decided by at least 15 runs, and it's the Red Sox who still hold the MLB record for run differential in a game with their 23-7 victory over the Indians in Game 4 of the 1999 Division Series.
HE SAID IT
"It was tough today coming here 1-1. The only thing we know now is that if we don't win tomorrow, we have a Game 5. That's the only thing we gain today. But we've got a chance to come here and put a good game together and see what happens. I know they trust CC [Sabathia]. We trust Rick [Porcello]. Veteran guys, they've done it for a few years. It should be fun." -- Cora
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
In the fourth, Didi Gregorius nearly hit into a 4-6-3 double play. But the Yankees challenged it, and it was overturned. A run scored on the play, and the Yankees trailed, 10-1.
Porcello has a chance to pitch the Red Sox into the American League Championship Series against the Astros if he can lead his team to victory in Game 4 against the Yankees. Porcello is winless in his previous four postseason starts, going 0-2 with a 5.85 ERA. He was tremendous against the Yankees this season, going 2-0 with a 2.31 ERA in four starts. The Yankees counter with Sabathia, who has made 44 career starts against Boston (including postseason), going 18-15 with a 4.38 ERA. First pitch is set for 8:07 p.m. ET.