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Red Sox survive tense ninth inning to defeat Yankees 4-3, punch ticket to ALCS

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The ALCS is set: the Red Sox will do battle with the Astros. The Red Sox earned that right on Tuesday night when they eliminated the Yankees with a 4-3 victory in Game 4 of the ALDS.

After two scoreless frames, the Red Sox offense jumped on starter CC Sabathia in the third inning, utilizing a hit batter, two singles, and a double to plate three runs. Christian Vásquez tacked on a solo home run in the fourth inning off of Zach Britton to push the lead to 4-0.

Red Sox starter Rick Porcello was humming along. He didn’t yield until the fifth inning, when a Gary Sánchez ground-rule double, a Gleyber Torres single, and a Brett Gardner sacrifice fly gave the Yankees their first run. It would prove to be their only run off of him.

Manager Alex Cora dug into the bullpen beginning in the sixth, calling on Matt Barnes. He tossed a 1-2-3 inning, then gave way to Ryan Brasier for the seventh. Brasier, too, went 1-2-3. The eighth belonged to Chris Sale. Sale — yep, 1-2-3. That bridged the gap to Craig Kimbrel in the ninth. Dominant closer, three-run lead, what could go wrong?

Kimbrel got into immediate trouble, issuing a four-pitch leadoff walk to Aaron Judge followed by a Didi Gregorius single. Kimbrel bounced back by striking out Giancarlo Stanton, but then walked Luke Voit to load the bases. Kimbrel followed that up by hitting Neil Walker with a wayward curve to force in a run, making the score 4-2. Sánchez worked a full count, then lifted a fly ball to deep left field that brought Gregorius home. Mercifully, Kimbrel ended the game by getting Torres to ground out to third base, which became a bang-bang play at first base. Torres was ruled out and the call was upheld on replay review, officially giving the Red Sox a 4-3 win.

The Red Sox are back in the ALCS for the first time since 2013, when they won the World Series in six games over the Cardinals. The Yankees fail to reach the ALCS after falling just shy of reaching the World Series last year.

The ALCS will begin on Saturday in Boston. The NLCS, between the Brewers and Dodgers, begins on Friday, so we have two days of no baseball. We’ll have to rely on each other in this trying time.

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.