Yankees face elimination in Game 4

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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.

Tonight’s matchup:

Red Sox vs. Yankees
Ballpark: Yankee Stadium
Time: 8:07 PM Eastern
TV: TBS
Pitchers: Rick Porcello vs. CC Sabathia
Breakdown:

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?

Royals fire manager Mike Matheny after 65-97 end to season

Minnesota Twis v Kansas City Royals
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Manager Mike Matheny and pitching coach Cal Eldred were fired by the Kansas Cty Royals on Wednesday night, shortly after the struggling franchise finished the season 65-97 with a listless 9-2 loss to the Cleveland Guardians.

The Royals had exercised their option on Matheny’s contract for 2023 during spring training, when the club hoped it was turning the corner from also-ran to contender again. But plagued by poor pitching, struggles from young position players and failed experiments with veterans, the Royals were largely out of playoff contention by the middle of summer.

The disappointing product led owner John Sherman last month to fire longtime front office executive Dayton Moore, the architect of back-to-back American League champions and the 2015 World Series title team. Moore was replaced by one of his longtime understudies, J.J. Picollo, who made the decision to fire Matheny hours after the season ended.

Matheny became the fifth big league manager to be fired this year.

Philadelphia’s Joe Girardi was replaced on June 3 by Rob Thomson, who engineered a miraculous turnaround to get the Phillies into the playoffs as a wild-card team. The Angels replaced Joe Maddon with Phil Nevin four days later, Toronto’s Charlie Montoyo was succeeded by John Schneider on July 13 and the Rangers’ Chris Woodward by Tony Beasley on Aug. 15.

In addition, Miami’s Don Mattingly said late last month that he will not return next season.