The Red Sox must win at least one game at Yankee Stadium in the next 48 hours, or their 108-win dream season will die.
The Sox had three series’ in the Bronx during the regular season, and went 1-2 each time for an overall record of 3-6. Joe Kelly, Chris Sale and Steven Wright picked up the wins for Boston in those three wins. Kelly was tremendous out of the bullpen for Alex Cora on Saturday night in Game 2 as he worked a season-high 2.1 innings and gave up just one hit with zero runs. Wright was removed from the Red Sox’ postseason roster on Saturday as an MRI revealed that his knee was much more damaged than originally thought. It’s unlikely Wright will pitch again this postseason.
And then there is Sale, who was terrific in his Game 1 start. Ideally, the Red Sox would not want to use him the rest of the series. But for that to happen they would need to win both games at the Stadium this week.
If the Red Sox lose Monday night, it will be all-hands-on-deck for Game 4 Tuesday. That includes Sale, who has quickly gone from a postseason question mark to the Red Sox’ playoff fail-safe.
Another option for Cora is to pitch Price out of the bullpen, possibly as soon as Monday night. Price threw just 42 pitches in his ugly Game 2 start Saturday night.
“It’s tough,” Price said. “After winning Game 1, to have the opportunity to go up 2-0 and to throw the baseball the way that I did – it’s definitely tough. But my spirits aren’t down. My confidence isn’t down. I’m looking forward to getting back out there and getting another opportunity.”
It’s still a very small sample size, but so far in this series the elite Yankees bats have outperformed the Red Sox’ top offensive players. Aaron Judge has been phenomenal for New York as he already has five hits in the series, including two monstrous home runs. Including the Yankees’ 7-2 win over the Athletics in the AL Wild Card game last week, Judge is batting .583 with a .643 OBP so far this postseason.
Mookie Betts has had seven at-bats through the first two games of the ALDS but has just one hit for a .143 batting average. JD Martinez has made a dent in the series as he has three hits in eight at-bats, including a line-drive homer in Game 1.
No doubt, the Red Sox will need both stars to shine brightly down in New York.
Change of plans
The Red Sox will start Nathan Eovaldi (6-7, 3.82 ERA) tonight in Game 3 (7:40 p.m., TBS) instead of Rick Porcello (17-7, 4.28 ERA). Eovaldi was originally slated to start tomorrow night in Game 4 but was bumped up a day after Cora used Porcello out of the bullpen in Game 1. Porcello threw just 15 pitches Friday night, but Cora made the change nonetheless.
Eovaldi has had considerable success against New York this season as in three starts he has allowed zero runs on six hits in 16 innings against the Yanks since joining the Red Sox in late July.