Red Sox pick up 13 more hits to beat the Yankees 7-4

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For the Yankees to have much of a chance this year, they’re going to have to rack up their runs without hitting a bunch of homers.

Their biggest rivals are showing them how its done.

On a bitterly cold Wednesday night in the Bronx, the Red Sox amassed 11 singles and two doubles to beat the Yankees 7-4. In two games, they’ve scored 15 runs without the benefit of a home run, and they’re now 2-0 for the first time since 1999.

Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda already seemed to be in the midst of an off night when he had the top of his fingers grazed by Shane Victorino’s liner through the middle in the top of the second. He remained in, but faced just four more batters, hitting two of them and walking another. He was then removed with an injury with the Yankees down 2-0.

The Red Sox added on from there, scoring four times off Cody Eppley in the third. The Yankees, meanwhile, totaled just one run in seven innings off Clay Buchholz. It was quite a change from the last time they saw him; last October 2, the Yankees torched Buchholz for eight runs in 1 2/3 innings, taking his season ERA from 4.22 to 4.56.

The Yankees did come back with three runs in the eighth on a line-drive homer from Vernon Wells off Alfredo Aceves. Still, it was too little, too late.

The Red Sox went out of their way to improve the clubhouse atmosphere over the winter, and while it’d be rather ridiculous to say that it’s paid off after two games, they have put together a couple of really impressive team efforts. Every Red Sox starter except Will Middlebrooks collected a hit tonight. The seven runs were driven in by six different players and scored by six different players. The one guy to score twice was Jackie Bradley Jr., who picked up his first major league hit when he singled in the sixth.

A.J. Hinch: “We’ll use every pitcher in Game 7 if we have to”

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It’s not entirely clear why the Astros threw Ken Giles into the ninth inning of Game 6 of the ALCS. With a six-run advantage and the bottom half of the Yankees’ lineup due up, pushing the series to its seven-game capacity looked like a sure bet. Giles may be one of Houston’s better bullpen arms, but he’s not their only option, and it would have made more sense to keep him fresh for a do-or-die Game 7 on Saturday night.

Of course, there’s no such thing as a sure bet when it comes to postseason baseball. That’s more or less what Astros’ manager A.J. Hinch had to say after the game, telling reporters that he had envisioned a quick three outs from his closer as they tried to pull back from the brink of elimination. “We didn’t have the luxury of limping into that inning,” Hinch said. “We’ve seen how these guys can explode in these innings.”

It’s not difficult to recall the Yankees’ explosive drive in the eighth inning of Game 4, when they exploited the holes in Houston’s ‘pen and evened the series with Gary Sanchez‘s go-ahead double off of Giles. Back home in Minute Maid Park, however, there was a slightly different feel to the eighth and ninth innings of Game 6. Jose Altuve led off the eighth with a solo home run, followed by Alex Bregman‘s two-run double and Evan Gattis‘ sac fly. In the ninth, Giles labored through a 23-pitch outing to lock down the win, handing out a base hit and a seven-pitch walk before eventually whiffing Chase Headley on three straight pitches for the last out.

So, while Hinch’s decision to lean on Giles in Game 6 may have felt wasteful, his concerns were not entirely unfounded. He’s prepared to roll with the same strategy during Saturday’s series finale, too, leaving nothing on the table as the Astros battle for their first World Series showdown since 2005. According to Dallas Keuchel, that means all hands on deck — except for Justin Verlander, whose four wins, 24 strikeouts and 1.46 postseason ERA have gotten the Astros as far as he could possibly be expected to take them. “No pitcher is going to be in the dugout,” said Keuchel. “They’re all going to be in the bullpen, myself included. Any way we can help out, we’re trying to get to the World Series, the same way the Yankees are, and that’s a nice feeling to have.”

Does that mean Giles will be available for a Game 7 appearance? Stranger things have happened. Joe Sheehan notes that the right-hander has pitched in back-to-back days 13 times this year, though he’s never thrown as many as 23 pitches on Day 1. Granted, he likely doesn’t have enough left in the tank for another 20+ pitch run on Saturday, but with the World Series on the line, any help he can offer will be invaluable.