More than just a sweep for surging BoSox

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The Yankees finally retaliated.

Following two more plunkings tonight, CC Sabathia had decided enough was enough.  Josh Beckett hit Derek Jeter in the elbow in the top of the first and Alex Rodriguez in the hip in the in the fourth.

After A-Rod limped to first, Sabathia, working with the Yankees up 2-0, picked his target, hitting David Ortiz in the right thigh with a 97-mph heater in the bottom of the fourth.  It was just the second time Yankees pitchers had ever hit Ortiz, the first time coming eight years ago in the ALCS.

Warnings were issued, but it seemed like the Ortiz HBP made it case closed for both teams, and there were no repercussions after Beckett hit Curtis Granderson in the foot with a breaking ball in the fifth.

The Yankees had made their statement.  And then they went about blowing the game.

Sabathia cruised through six innings, allowing just two hits, but the Red Sox exploded for seven runs on nine hits in the seventh.

Ortiz, hitting for the first time since the plunking, started the rally with a single and then closed it with a two-run double.  The Red Sox added one more run in the ninth and won 8-3.

The victory gave them consecutive three-game sweeps at Yankee Stadium.  They’re 8-1 against the Bombers this year.  Three times now Beckett and Sabathia have matched up, and the Yankees have lost those games by a combined score to 18-3.

At least the Yankees did score for the first time off Beckett tonight.  After Jeter was hit by the pitch to start the game, Granderson homered, giving the Yanks the 2-0 lead they held most of the way.  They couldn’t dent Beckett from there, though, coming up with just three more hits against him.

With the win, the resiliant Red Sox moved two games up in the AL East.  Their ownership of the Yankees is the big reason why.  They’ve dominated the Bombers so thoroughly that Mariano Rivera has appeared in just one of the nine contests so far, coming into the May 15 loss with the Yankees down 7-5.

Fortunately, the Yankees don’t have to beat the Red Sox to make it to the postseason.  They have the AL’s third-best record despite their struggles.

Still, one wonders whether the Yankees could look a whole lot different by the time to two teams play again on Aug. 5.  Jorge Posada could be gone.  Derek Jeter might be batting at the bottom of the order.  Phil Hughes should be back, though perhaps not the 2010 Hughes the Yankees are hoping for.

But what the Yankees really need is for Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Mark Teixeira to show for these games.  Teixeira has gone 4-for-33 against Boston this season.

Things are very well set up for Boston now.  The middle of the order looks devastating.  The duo of Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jason Varitek behind the plate is working out just fine all of a sudden. And even though Beckett is the only one of the team’s top four starters pitching as hoped, the Red Sox lead the AL with 36 wins.  There’s no more confident team in baseball at the moment.

Sox, Astros look to take a lead, Brewers look to take command in tonight’s LCS action

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The Red Sox and Astros felt each other out for Games 1 and 2 and now things shift to Houston for Game 3. Each team faces a challenge of sorts here, with the Astros facing a right-handed starter for the first time in the series — they have hit better against lefties on the season — and the Red Sox entering the game with some questions about their bullpen, particularly closer Craig Kimbrel. Also of note: each team has a big bit — Jose Altuve and J.D. Martinez — which has been cold thus far. Altuve has gone 1-for-8 in the first two games and Martinez is 0-for-7. Altuve is nursing a sore right knee and may be the DH this afternoon. Martinez, of course, will DH for Boston. It’ll be interesting to see if either one of ’em gets of the schneid.

In Los Angeles, the Brewers would take a commanding 3-1 lead with a victory tonight. As noted below, things are set up nicely for them from a pitching perspective, having basically everyone available in what will be, essentially, a bullpen game. The Dodgers have a traditional starter on the mound in Rich Hill, but since Walker Buehler went seven innings and Dave Roberts did not have to use his top relief arms, he’ll likely be calling down to the pen earlier than usual as well. Indeed, expect him to pull out all the stops he can to avoid falling into a 1-3 hole in this best-of-seven series.

Your viewing guide:

ALCS Game 3

Red Sox vs. Astros
Ballpark: Minute Maid Park
Time: 5:09 PM Eastern
TV: TBS
Pitchers: Nathan Eovaldi vs. Dallas Keuchel
Breakdown:

Eovaldi is coming off seven innings of one-run ball with five strikeouts and no walks in his Game 3 start against the Yankees in the ALDS. Earlier this year he faced the Astros when he was still with the Rays — as you probably heard by now, that didn’t go too well — but he’s been solid as a rock for Boston since the beginning of September, not allowing more than two runs in any start and blanking the opposition three times. Keuchel is working on seven days of rest since giving up two runs over five innings in his Game 3 of the ALDS. Sometimes people say guys with sinking stuff like his do worse with more rest but I feel like every time I’ve heard that for the past decade, a guy like him has either been just fine on extra rest or has gotten shelled on the allegedly good short rest they get. It’s mostly noise. So much small sample stuff this time of year is noise. Including the fact that Keuchel is 0-1 with a 9.15 ERA over four appearances against the Sox in his career. People say that stuff to have something to say. Like I just did.

NLCS Game 4

Brewers vs. Dodgers
Ballpark: Dodger Stadium
Time: 9:09 PM Eastern
TV: FS1
Pitchers: Gio Gonzalez vs. Rich Hill
Breakdown:

Gio Gonzalez will start the game, but as was the case in Game 1 when Gonzalez pitched just two innings, look for him to be an opener here once again. In Game 1 Craig Counsell used seven pitchers, with Brandon Woodruff going two innings and Josh Hader going three. Hader pitched yesterday but it was only two-thirds of an inning in which he only threw eight pitches, so expect to see him once again. The Dodgers, blanked yesterday, will need to show that they can do something against the Brewers’ best or this thing isn’t going back to Milwaukee for a Game 6 or 7. As for their starter, Rich Hill hasn’t pitched in eight days, last going four and a third against the Braves in the NLDS, allowing two runs. He’ll be pitching to Austin Barnes after Yasmani Grandal’s boo-inspiring performance in the postseason thus far sends him to the pine.