BOSTON -- The intersection of a historic rivalry and 19 contentious regular-season contests promised that this American League Division Series would set up some classic affairs. The first installment did not disappoint, though for the Yankees, an early five-run deficit proved too much to overcome against Chris Sale and the
BOSTON -- The intersection of a historic rivalry and 19 contentious regular-season contests promised that this American League Division Series would set up some classic affairs. The first installment did not disappoint, though for the Yankees, an early five-run deficit proved too much to overcome against Chris Sale and the patchwork Red Sox bullpen.
:: ALDS schedule and results ::
Despite a solid track record of regular-season success against the Red Sox, J.A. Happ's first such assignment in a postseason setting resulted in a third-inning knockout. The Yankees clawed back late, coming within a run on Aaron Judge's ninth-inning homer, but absorbed a 5-4 loss in Friday's Game 1 of the ALDS at Fenway Park.
"We just started having quality at-bats, doing our job," Judge said, "once we started getting in a rhythm. ... If only we could play 10 or 11 innings, you know? We've just got to build off those quality at-bats and get ready for tomorrow."
In the history of five-game series with the 2-2-1 format, teams that have won Game 1 at home have gone on to take the series 27 of 36 times (75 percent). The Yankees, however, came in believing that they could be in good shape if they are able to win one of the two games in Boston. New York has won each of its last seven postseason games played at home.
"Coming on the road, playing the first two at their place, it's a tough task," Brett Gardner said. "The first game obviously didn't go our way, but we can even up the series tomorrow and feel good about our chances going home. ... Tomorrow is pretty much a must-win game for us."
Comforting as they might be, those thoughts were far from mind in the first inning, when J.D. Martinez made Happ pay for allowing a single to Andrew Benintendi and a four-pitch walk to Steve Pearce, launching a 2-0 fastball into the first row of the Green Monster seats to give Boston a quick three-run lead. It was Martinez's fourth career postseason homer.
"My execution wasn't as sharp as it's been," said Happ, who had a 1.99 ERA in four starts vs. Boston this season and entered the game 8-4 with a 2.98 ERA against the Red Sox in his career. "That was the reason I always stress trying to get strike one. There were times that I wasn't very good at that tonight. The big hit cost me."
• Despite Happ's short start, 'pen in good shape
Boston struck again in the third inning. Mookie Betts banged a double off the left-field wall and Benintendi surprised the defense with a bunt, placing runners at the corners with none out as Happ was slow to cover first base. Pearce greeted reliever Chad Green with an RBI single and Xander Bogaerts lifted a sac fly to close Happ's line.
"We were a little aggressive going to our 'pen," manager Aaron Boone said. "The 'pen did a great job to allow us to get back in the game and give us a chance. We almost caught them."
Through five innings, Sale appeared as dominant as the Yankees feared, striking out eight and showing few signs of the late-season velocity dip that concerned Boston's coaching staff, but he finally cracked in the sixth; Judge opened with a single and Gardner -- having replaced Aaron Hicks, who was removed due to tightness in his right hamstring -- legged out a fielder's choice before Giancarlo Stanton chased Sale with a single.
"Any time one of the best pitchers in the game comes out of the game, that's always a relief," Judge said. "You want to attack that bullpen as best we can. It's a five-game series, and if we can wear him down and get them using that bullpen early, it's a good thing."
Boston reliever Ryan Brasier had a shaky postseason debut, permitting a run-scoring hit to Luke Voit, a wild pitch and a walk to the free-swinging Miguel Andujar before handing the ball to Brandon Workman. Gary Sanchez worked a walk to load the bases, putting New York one swing away from taking the lead, but Workman fanned Sanchez on a nasty 3-2 curveball to squelch the threat.
After the Yankees turned a bases-loaded, none-out setup into a seventh-inning run, Red Sox manager Alex Cora bypassed his traditional relief options to call upon Game 3 starter Rick Porcello for two outs in the eighth inning before Craig Kimbrel polished off the final four outs for the save.
"I had pitches to hit in the zone," said Stanton, who buckled looking at a Kimbrel curve in the ninth for his fourth strikeout of the game. "I fouled them off and didn't get to them. You can't give them too many strikes in the zone like that. You wind up having a game like I did."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
New York squandered a prime opportunity in the seventh inning, as Andrew McCutchen and Judge opened with singles to chase Workman. Matt Barnes walked Gardner to load the bases with none out, but Stanton fanned. Voit cashed in a run with a fielder's choice, helped by Gardner breaking up the double play with a hard slide, but the Yanks settled for the lone run.
"We put a lot of pressure on them," Gardner said. "We didn't go down quietly. I feel like there were some opportunities there where we could have capitalized and scored a few more runs."
Voit is the third Yankee since 1908 to record two or more RBIs in each of his first two career postseason games, joining Ben Chapman and Bill Dickey, who both did so in Games 1 and 2 of the 1932 World Series against the Cubs.
HE SAID IT
"We had some success off their bullpen tonight and that's kind of everyone's mentality. Every time the starter takes the mound, we're trying to get the starter out and get in their 'pen. We're trying to get those guys to get a lot of work in. Honestly, we feel confident no matter who is on the mound." -- Voit
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.