Gary Sanchez
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Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge power Yankees to Game 2 win in ALDS

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The Yankees suffered no shortage of power when they took the field at Fenway Park for Game 2 of the ALDS. After squandering an early lead and narrowly losing Game 1 to the Red Sox on Friday night, they found their mojo again with some help from homegrown sluggers Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez, both of whom were instrumental in boosting the club to a 6-2 win to tie the series.

Judge kicked things off for the Yankees in the first inning. He clobbered a cutter from Boston left-hander David Price and parked it 445 feet away in the seats atop the Green Monster. Price recovered to retire Luke Voit and Giancarlo Stanton, but it wasn’t long before he found himself in hot water again. In the top of the second inning, Gary Sanchez returned another cutter to the Green Monster for the Yankees’ second long ball of the night. After a pair of back-to-back walks to Gleyber Torres and Brett Gardner, Andrew McCutchen got in on the fun, too, this time with an RBI single that inflated the Yankees’ lead to 3-0.

Price was yanked off the mound after logging just 1 2/3 innings; per Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston, it was the first outing of his career during which he failed to record even one strikeout. The Yankees’ Masahiro Tanaka, on the other hand, mowed down the Red Sox’ lineup inning after inning. Boston didn’t manage to catch a break until the fourth inning, when Xander Bogaerts jumped on a first-pitch fastball and postmarked it straight out to the center field stands for a solo home run.

Tanaka wrapped up his outing with one run and four strikeouts scattered over five innings, and with the bullpen holding down the fort, the Yankees blew the game wide open in the seventh. Judge hit a leadoff single out to first base, then advanced to third on a walk from Voit and a force out from Stanton. With Judge and Stanton at the corners, Sanchez stepped up to bat and unloaded a mammoth home run — this one a three-run, 479-footer off of Eduardo Rodriguez that left Fenway entirely.

Not only was it a tremendous home run, the likes of which hadn’t yet been seen in the 2018 playoffs, but it earned a place on the Statcast regular season and postseason leaderboards as well (the longest postseason home run in the Statcast era currently belongs to Willson Contreras‘ 491-foot homer in the 2017 NLCS):

With a 6-1 lead behind them, the Yankees cruised through the remaining three innings. Ian Kinsler plated another run for Boston on a one-out double off of Dellin Betances in the bottom of the seventh, but the right-hander managed to squeeze out of the inning without doing any additional damage to the Yankees’ lead. Betances and Zach Britton combined for a scoreless eighth, and Aroldis Chapman subbed in to close out the ninth with a leadoff walk to Steve Pearce, a three-pitch strikeout to Eduardo Nunez, and Kinsler’s game-ending double play to secure the 6-2 win.

The AL East rivals have an off day on Sunday, but will pick up the series again when it shifts to New York on Monday. Right-hander Luis Severino is scheduled to meet Boston righty Rick Porcello on the mound at 7:40 PM EDT, when they’ll each try to gain a much-needed advantage in the ALDS.

Red Sox look to punch their ticket to the World Series tonight

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Thanks to some amazing defense, some big hits and — to continue to beat this horse, a bad call by Joe West — the Red Sox have a 3-1 lead in the ALCS and look to clinch the AL Pennant tonight down in Houston.

If you believe in momentum, you’d have to say it’s on Boston’s side. If you believe that momentum is the next day’s starting pitcher, however, you’d have to say things favor Houston more than the standing of the series would suggest. All of which makes me wish Game 5 was starting right now, because it figures to be a tense and exciting affair.

ALCS Game 5

Red Sox vs. Astros
Ballpark: Minute Maid Park
Time: 8:09 PM Eastern
TV: TBS
Pitchers: David Price vs. Justin Verlander
Breakdown:

If someone told you that you had to win one baseball game against the Martians to save the human race, you could do far worse than calling on Justin Verlander to be your starting pitcher. Among the pitchers still in the postseason, he’d almost certainly be your choice right now.

Does Verlander himself appreciate the situation? This is what he said about that yesterday:

“I mean, these are all must-win games at this point. Every time you take the mound I don’t think there’s any difference whether it’s 2-2 or 3-1.”

Look, we’re asking him to beat the Martians here, not win the National Math Bee, so let’s let that go. The point is that after all of these years he’s still one of the most dominant pitchers in the game and after the exhausting, see-saw battle of Game 4, he stands the best chance of giving Houston what it needs: a quick, quiet and drama-free win.

Not that the Red Sox are likely to roll over for that. They didn’t the first time they faced Verlander in this series. They Astros won, yes, and Verlander limited them to two runs on two hits. But he also issued four walks and wasn’t his sharpest overall. Boston didn’t capitalize on his mistakes as best they could, but he’s not invincible.

For Boston it’s David Price. He allowed four runs on five hits and four walks over four and two-thirds innings in Game 2, not factoring in the decision. That’s not great, but given the talk leading up to that game being all about how Price is a postseason flop, the fact that the Sox won it in the end had to bouy him at least a little. As does the fact that, here, tonight, it’s not 100% on his shoulders. Sure, the Sox want to close this out, but with a 3-1 lead there is less pressure on Price than on his former teammate Verlander. Worth noting, though: Price is on short rest and warmed up in the bullpen last night in case he was needed to bail out Craig Kimbrel. He may not go deep into this game.