Aaron Boone managed last night’s game like it was some random night in June. He had better manage with a bit more urgency tonight because, for the Yankees, it’s win or stay home.
The Red Sox have a bit more margin for error. A win tonight and they reach the ALCS for the first time since 2013, which they won and followed up with their last World Series title. A loss and, hey, they get Game 5 Thursday night at Fenway Park. They obviously want to take care of business here. Both because advancing is the point but also because, if you’re the Red Sox, the post-loss recriminations for an ugly postseason in the Yankee Universe will be hilariously entertaining.
All of that said, I’ve seen some clever wags portray tonight’s contest as a lost cause, all but guaranteeing a Red Sox victory and the end of the Yankees season. I’m not gonna sit here and say the Yankees are in great shape — They were utterly humiliated last night and Boone’s bullpen mismanagement will have at least some carry-over effects tonight — but if we’ve learned anything in watching the Yankees and Red Sox in the postseason over the years it’s that what happens one day has little bearing on what happens the next and no one, ever, is out of it until they are actually out of it.
Porcello was originally lined up to start Game 3, but he pitched an inning of relief in Game 1 and the decision was made to push him back a day. That worked out just fine for the Sox — Nate Eovaldi was fantastic last night — and now Porcello is good to go here, his Game 1 performance serving like a glorified bullpen session.
Porcello was 2-0 with a 2.31 earned run average in four starts against the Yankees in 2018, including an outstanding outing on August 3 in which he allowed one run on one hit and struck out nine, needing only 86 pitches to do it, in a complete game victory. Notably absent that day were Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez, each of whom were on the disabled list. Also: that game took two hours and fifteen minutes. Don’t expect the same tonight.
For the Yankees it’s all on CC Sabathia’s shoulders. The big man does not go deep into game like he used to, but since he has not pitched since September 27, he should have a bit more stamina. Not that Boone, after last night’s debacle, is likely to keep Sabathia in for long if there’s even a hint of trouble. If anything it would not shock me to see Boone overcorrect and have too quick a hook on Sabathia tonight.
When Sabathia is pulled, it’ll be in favor of a mostly-rested Yankees pen. At least a mostly-rested good part of the Yankees pen. Chad Green was inserted too late last night but he went an inning and two-thirds, throwing 29 pitches, so don’t expect too much from him in Game 4. The other Yankees horses, however — David Robertson, Dellin Betances, Zach Britton and Aroldis Chapman — are all fresh.
The last time Sabathia faced the Sox came on August 2. He gave up three runs early, was pulled, and the Sox went on to win in a blowout. Which, when you think about it, was pretty much what happened last night.
An omen? Or have the Yankees gotten such ugly games out of their system by now?