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Aaron Boone makes some questionable decisions in fourth inning

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It’s only the fourth inning and a lot could still happen, but Game 3 of the ALDS looks like it belongs to the Red Sox. That’s thanks in part to some questionable decision-making by Yankees manager Aaron Boone in the top of the fourth inning.

Starter Luis Severino yielded a run in the second followed by two more in the third. The Red Sox were making consistent hard contact. According to Baseball Savant, seven of the 14 balls put in play against Severino had an exit velocity of 100 MPH or above. Having Severino start the fourth inning is no problem, but at least have some arms getting loose in the bullpen just in case.

Severino immediately got into trouble, giving up back-to-back singles to Brock Holt and Christian Vázquez. That would’ve been a great spot to bring in, let’s say, Chad Green. Boone stuck with Severino, who proceeded to walk Jackie Bradley, Jr. on four pitches to load the bases. That was the last straw, so Boone came out to the mound — surely to bring in a talented and experienced reliever, right? To the surprise of just about everyone, including potentially even himself, Lance Lynn jogged to the mound.

Lynn, you may recall, is a longtime starter. 190 of the 214 regular season games in which he’s appeared have been starts. And he hasn’t had a particularly good year, putting up a 5.10 ERA with the Twins and a 4.14 ERA with the Yankees. Lynn walked Mookie Betts on four pitches to force in a run, then served up a bases-clearing double to Andrew Benintendi, pushing the lead to 7-0. J.D. Martinez then grounded out, but Xander Bogaerts followed up with a single to put runners on the corners and keep the Red Sox rally alive.

With the game out of hand, Chad Green came in. Results notwithstanding, he should’ve come in earlier in the inning rather than Lynn. Still, Green proceeded to serve up a two-out RBI single to Steve Pearce and a two-run triple to Holt. At long last, Green got Vázquez to ground out to end the inning, finally putting the cap on a seven-run outburst that saw the score run up to 10-0.

The Yankees’ bullpen is one of the best in baseball. During the regular season, the Yankees’ aggregate 3.38 ERA from relievers was fourth-best in the league. While the ‘pen had to handle seven innings in Game 1, the only reliever who pitched in both Game 1 and Game 2 was Zach Britton, and there was an off-day on Sunday. Boone’s reluctance to call on an actual reliever shouldn’t have been based on preservation, especially in a pivotal playoff game. Three decisions — to not have the ‘pen moving to start the fourth, having too long a leash on Severino, and going with Lynn over an actual reliever — put the game practically out of reach for the Yankees.

And That Happened: Thursday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Diamondbacks 4, Braves 1: 🎶Stop me, oh-oh-oh, stop me . . .stop me if you think that you’ve heard this one before . . .🎶

Sorry. Just waylaid by this Braves bullpen. Nothing’s changed. It’s enough to make a shy, bald, Buddhist reflect and plan a mass murder. Me watching the game: 🎶 I drank one. It became four. And when I fell on the floor I drank more.🎶

Christian Walker hit a two-run homer in the seventh off of Chad Sobotka, who, didn’t get an out and who has given up five runs in his last two outings. The Diamondbacks have won four straight.

Nationals 4, Giants 2: Patrick Corbin took a one-hitter into the eighth inning and ended having allowed only one run on two hits while punching out nine. Not literally, though. If he punched out nine guys he’d probably be arrested.

Tigers 9, White Sox 7: Detroit ends a five-game skid. Nicholas Castellanos and Miguel Cabrera led the way, with the former going 3-for-4, the latter 2-for-4 and both driving in two runs. Dustin Peterson and Grayson Greiner also each drove in two, but they don’t get to be characterized as “leading the way” because baseball has a pretty strict seniority system and if you get too loosey-goosey with it you got a big hassle with the union and I’ve already had too many fires to put out this week, OK?

Blue Jays 7, Twins 4: Randal Grichuk, who got all “play the game the right way” on Tim Anderson on Wednesday, hit a homer. After which he gently laid his bat down parallel to the base line, assumed an expression which suggested mild pleasure but copious humility and then stoically ran the bases at a speed which reflected his obvious reverence for players past, present and future. I’m assuming at least.

Here’s what he actually said:

“I’ve never been one to flip a bat or do anything like that. I run out of the box always. I’ve hit some pretty far homers and I’ve sprinted out of the box like it was a wall-scraper. It’s just who I am. (Other) guys are different.”

Someone give that guy the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Justin Smoak and Teoscar Hernández hit home runs too. No word on whether Grichuk silently judged them afterwards. The Jays took three of four from the Twinkies.

Royals 6, Yankees 1: Homer Bailey — Homer Bailey? — yes, Homer Bailey held the Bombers to one run over six. Jorge Soler and Ryan O'Hearn hit dingers. New York got four singles in the game. That’s it. I guess with the Red Sox and Cubs being off someone had to step up and satisfy the “big money teams stinkin’ up the joint” quota for the evening.

Dodgers 3, Brewers 1: Before the game Dave Roberts announced that Julio Urías would head to the bullpen after this start since the Dodgers will soon be getting a couple of veteran pitchers back. Then Urías goes out and tosses six one-hit shutout innings while striking out nine. There are teams that would kill to have the sort of depth that would allow this kid to be shuffled off to long relief after a start like this. Cody Bellinger and Max Muncy homered in a winning cause. Christian Yelich homered in a losing cause.

Orioles 6, Rays 5: Joey Rickard drove in the winning run in the 11th inning with an RBI double. To even get him up to bat required Chris Davis to hit a two-out RBI single, and I wonder what the odds of that happening were. RIckard himself was no sure bet to play the hero here after coming into the game on an 0-for-15 skid, but he reached base five times and drove in two on the night. Dude used to be a Ray, too. Or at least in their system. Baltimore swiped him from Tampa Bay in the 2015 Rule 5 Draft. Here’s another killer for the Rays: Tommy Pham, who was 4-for-5 with two driven in, was on second base with one out in the bottom of the ninth and the score tied but . . . got picked off while trying to steal third base. Ouch.

Rockies 6, Phillies 2: Ryan McMahon homered twice and had five RBI. Kyle Freeland pitched six scoreless innings but had to leave with a blister, so that’s worth watching. Colorado was won four in a row.

Mariners 11, Angels 10: The M’s had a 10-2 lead heading into the seventh and totally blew it when the Angels scored seven runs on seven hits in the seventh and got a David Fletcher homer in the eighth to tie things up. Seattle rallied in the ninth, though, with pinch hitter Jay Bruce singing in Mitch Haniger for the winning margin. Before all of that messiness the M’s bottom of the order, in the form of Omar Narváez and Ryon Healy, combined to drive in nine. Healy homered twice. Narváez hit a three-run shot. Speaking of shot, all the pitchers in this one probably should’ve been.

Reds 4, Padres 1: Joey Votto led off in this came, which was odd, and he hit a homer to start the game. Padres starter Chris Paddack said after the game that he “thought I could blow a heater by him.” Bless his heart. Fernando Tatís Jr. led off too, which is also new, and went 2-for-4. Tucker Barnhart and Jesse Winker also homered, helping Cincy snap a four-game losing skid.