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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.

Rafael Devers won’t visit White House with Red Sox

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The World Series champion Red Sox are scheduled to visit President Trump in the White House on February 15. Some have speculated that manager Álex Cora, who is from Puerto Rico and has been critical of Trump and has been a big factor in Hurricane Maria relief efforts, might not go as a form of protest. Thus far, nothing concrete has been reported on that front.

However, third baseman Rafael Devers says he isn’t going to join the Red Sox on their visit to the White House, Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston reports. Devers would prefer to focus on baseball, as the Red Sox open spring training on February 13 and position players have to report on February 17. Per Chris Mason, Devers also said via a translator, “The opportunity was presented and I just wasn’t compelled to go.”

Devers hails from the Dominican Republic and he, like many of Major League Baseball’s foreign-born player base, might not be happy about Trump’s immigration policies. Understandably, he is being tight-lipped about his motivation, but it wouldn’t be surprising if Devers is making a silent protest by choosing not to attend. He is thus far the only member of the team to bow out.

Devers, 22, hit .240/.298/.433 with 21 home runs, 66 RBI, and 59 runs scored in 490 plate appearances last season.

Last year, when the Astros visited Trump at the White House, they did so without Carlos Correa and Carlos Beltrán. Both are from Puerto Rico. It is certainly not unprecedented for individual players to opt out of the White House visit.

No word yet on what food will be served during Boston’s trip to the nation’s capital, but the smart money is on hamberders.