Boston Red Sox Jacoby Ellsbury scores at home plate as New York Yankees Austin Romine cannot hold the throw in their MLB game in New York

Red Sox best Mariano Rivera, beat Yankees in 10 innings


Call it “Deja Drew.”

After the Red Sox let a five-run lead slip away, things were going all according to plan for the Yankees on Thursday. David Robertson pitched a perfect eighth up 8-7, and Mariano Rivera retired the first two batters he faced in the ninth. That’s when things unraveled.

Mike Napoli, who was 0-for-5 with three strikeouts lifetime against Rivera, took a two-strike cutter into right-center for a single. September callup Quintin Berry pinch-ran, immediately took off for second and then kept right on going, reaching third when Austin Romine’s throw went into center field.

Stephen Drew, on the very next pitch, got a cutter left over the plate and drove it over Robinson Cano’s head, tying the game at 8.

It was eerily reminiscent of Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS, when the Red Sox used a Kevin Millar walk, a David Roberts steal and then a Bill Mueller single to tie the game off Rivera, kicking off the greatest comeback in MLB history (they were down three games to none and came back to win the series in seven).

The Red Sox went on to win this one off Joba Chamberlain in the 10th after Jacoby Ellsbury singles, stole second and came around to score on a Shane Victorino single. There was some controversy mixed in; Victorino appeared to strike out on the pitch prior to the single, but first-base ump Joe West ruled he checked his swing.

Koji Uehara followed with a flawless bottom of the 10th for his 18th save.

The blown save was Rivera’s sixth in 47 chances this year. That’s his high total since 2003, when he was 40-for-46. His career high for blown saves was nine, from his first year as a closer in 1997.

It wasn’t a particularly well-played four-hour game for the old rivals. The most notable example came in the bottom of the ninth, when Alfonso Soriano stole the Yankees’ sixth base of the game despite being picked off first, only to follow that with a caught stealing of third base when he was again picked off by Craig Breslow.

On the go-ahead run in the 10th, Romine appeared to have a play on Ellsbury at the plate, but he couldn’t handle the bounce throw from Ichiro Suzuki in right field.

Ivan Nova, the AL Pitcher of the Month for August, came out after throwing 96 pitches in four innings. He gave up three runs. Jake Peavy was better, but the Red Sox brought him back out for the seventh at 105 pitches and he allowed back-to-back batters to reach, kicking off a six-run inning that brought the Yankees back from a 7-2 deficit.

There’s no one to blame in Yankees’ loss

Joe Girardi

You’re going to boo All-Star Brett Gardner for striking out against a Cy Young contender?

You’re going to bash Alex Rodriguez for going hitless in another postseason game, three years after his last one?

Maybe you’d prefer to put it all on Masahiro Tanaka for giving up two solo homers to a lineup full of 20-homer guys?

The truth is that the Yankees were supposed to lose tonight. They were facing an outstanding left-hander with their forever-lefty-heavy lineup, and they simply didn’t have anyone pitching like an ace to set themselves up nicely for a one-game, winner-take-all showdown. The 3-0 result… well, that’s how this was supposed to go down.

It didn’t necessarily mean it would; what fun would it be if the better team always won? And the Astros might not even be a better team than the Yankees. However, the Astros with Dallas Keuchel on the mound were certainly a better team than the Yankees with whoever they picked to throw.

I just don’t see where it’s worth putting any blame tonight. Joe Girardi? He could have started John Ryan Murphy over Brian McCann against the tough lefty, but he wasn’t willing to risk Tanaka losing his comfort zone by using a backup catcher.

The front office could have added more talent, perhaps outbidding the Blue Jays for David Price or the Royals for Johnny Cueto, and set themselves up better for the postseason. However, that would have cost them Luis Severino and/or Greg Bird, both of whom went on to play key roles as the Yankees secured the wild card. Would it really have been worth it? I don’t think so.

Tanaka gave the Yankees what they should have expected. Had Keuchel’s stuff been a little off on short rest, Tanaka’s performance would have kept the Yankees in the game.

Keuchel, though, was on his game from the first pitch. The Astros bullpen might have been a bit more vulnerable, and late at-bats from Gardner, Carlos Beltran, Rodriguez and McCann definitely left something to be desired. Still, on the whole, the lack of offense was quite a team effort.

The Yankees got beat by a better team tonight.  I’m not sure the Astros would have been better in Games 2-7 in a longer series, but they had everything in their favor in this one.

Keuchel, Astros cruise past Yankees in AL Wild Card Game

AP Photo/Kathy Willens

Dallas Keuchel faced the Yankees two times during the regular season and was fantastic in each outing, striking out 12 in a complete-game shutout on June 25 and whiffing nine batters over seven scoreless frames on August 25.

The 2015 Cy  Young Award candidate continued that trend in Tuesday night’s American League Wild Card Game, limiting the Yankees to three hits and one walk over six innings of scoreless ball as the Astros earned a 3-0 win and advanced to a best-of-five ALDS with the top-seeded Royals.

Keuchel was working on three days of rest but didn’t show very many signs of fatigue, whiffing seven and needing only 87 pitches to get through six. He sure looked like he could have gone an inning longer, but Astros manager A.J. Hinch decided to turn the game over to his bullpen and they added three more big zeroes to the scoreboard at a very loud then very boo-heavy Yankee Stadium. Tony Sipp worked around some early jitters to throw a scoreless seventh, Will Harris kept the Yankees off the bases entirely in a scoreless eighth, and closer Luke Gregerson went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth.

Impending free agent outfielder Colby Rasmus provided the first burst of offense for the Astros in the top of the second inning with a leadoff homer against Masahiro Tanaka. And then deadline acquisition Carlos Gomez, who missed a bunch of time down the stretch with an intercostal strain, got to Tanaka for another solo shot in the top of the fourth. Houston scored its third run on a Jose Altuve RBI single in the top of the seventh.

This is a young, talented Astros team with an ace at the head of its rotation.

Kansas City could have a problem.