Yankees-Red Sox rivalry gets another wild chapter

Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox via Getty Images

Baseball’s biggest rivalry enters uncharted territory Tuesday night as the Boston Red Sox play host to the New York Yankees for the first time in a one-and-done American League wild-card game.

Boston (92-70) finished atop the AL wild-card standings after Rafael Devers‘ tie-breaking two-run home run in the ninth inning Sunday sealed a 7-5 comeback win at Washington in the final game of the regular season.

The Yankees (92-70) clinched the second wild-card spot Sunday in their finale against Tampa Bay with a 1-0 win on Aaron Judge‘s walk-off infield single.

Despite finishing with the same record, Boston will host the one-game playoff as a result of winning the regular-season series 10-9. The Yankees have won nine of the past 12 games between the teams after the Red Sox won the first seven meetings.

“We’ve seen that happen in the course of this rivalry over the years where you get hot for a little stretch against them or not, but I think it will be two really competitive teams,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “You live to be in these kind of competitive environments with a ton on the line.”

The winner advances to face the AL East-champion Rays in an AL Division Series matchup beginning Thursday at St. Petersburg, Fla.

The classic 1978 tie-breaker game that the teams played at Fenway Park is one of baseball’s most memorable one-game playoffs. Bucky Dent’s three-run homer lifted the Yankees to the victory, but that game was played for the AL East title before the dawn of the wild-card era. The Yankees went on to win the 1978 World Series.

This is the first postseason meeting between the Red Sox and Yankees since 2018, when Boston won the AL Division Series 3-1 en route to its fourth World Series title since 2004.

“This is different. It’s one game,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “We are who we are. We’re not perfect, we know that. But we didn’t run into (92) wins just being lucky. We have a good baseball team.”

Prior to 2018, the teams met in back-to-back AL Championship Series in 2003 and 2004.

In 2003, New York won in epic fashion on Boone’s walk-off home run in Game 7 to reach the World Series.

A year later, Boston made history by becoming the only team to erase a 3-0 playoff series deficit when they defeated the Yankees on the way to their first World Series championship in 86 years.

A pair of All-Star pitchers will face off Tuesday as New York right-hander Gerrit Cole (16-8, 3.23 ERA) opposes Boston right-hander Nathan Eovaldi (11-9, 3.75 ERA). Cole and Eovaldi last dueled a week ago in a Yankees’ 8-3 win on their way to a three-game sweep at Boston.

Cole posted a quality start with six innings of three-run, five-hit ball with three walks and six strikeouts. Eovaldi turned in one of his worst starts of the year, tying a season-high-tying with seven runs allowed on seven hits with no strikeouts in 2 2/3 innings.

Cole went 2-2 with a 4.91 ERA in four starts against the Red Sox this season. Eovaldi is 2-2 with a 3.71 ERA in six starts against his former team this year.

In the postseason, Cole boasts an impressive 8-4 record with a 2.68 ERA in 13 career starts. Meanwhile, Eovaldi has gone 2-1 with a 1.61 ERA in six career postseason appearances (two starts).

Boston has never played in the one-game wild card format, while this is the fourth appearance for New York. The Yankees are 2-1 in wild-card games, falling to Houston 3-0 in 2015, but beating Minnesota 8-4 in 2017 and Oakland 7-2 in 2018.

–Field Level Media

Padres claim 2-time All-Star catcher Gary Sánchez off waivers from Mets

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

SAN DIEGO — The scuffling San Diego Padres claimed catcher Gary Sánchez off waivers from the New York Mets.

The two-time All-Star was designated for assignment after playing in three games for the Mets. He went 1 for 6 with three strikeouts and an RBI, looking shaky at times behind the plate.

With the disappointing Padres (24-29) getting meager offensive production at catcher, they hope Sánchez can provide a boost. Austin Nola is batting .131 with three extra-base hits and a paltry .434 OPS in 39 games. His part-time platoon partner, second-stringer Brett Sullivan, is hitting .170 with four extra-base hits and a .482 OPS in 21 games since getting called up from the minors April 16.

Luis Campusano has been on the injured list since April 17 and is expected to be sidelined until around the All-Star break following left thumb surgery.

San Diego is responsible for just over $1 million in salary for Sánchez after assuming his $1.5 million, one-year contract.

The star-studded Padres have lost seven of 11 and are 3-3 on a nine-game East Coast trip. They open a three-game series at Miami.

San Diego becomes the third National League team to take a close look at the 30-year-old Sánchez this season. He spent time in the minors with San Francisco before getting released May 2 and signing a minor league contract a week later with the Mets, who were minus a couple of injured catchers at the time.

After hitting well in a short stint at Triple-A Syracuse, he was promoted to the big leagues May 19. When the Mets reinstated catcher Tomás Nido from the injured list last week, Sánchez was cut.

Sánchez’s best seasons came early in his career with the New York Yankees, where he was runner-up in 2016 AL Rookie of the Year voting and made the AL All-Star team in 2017 and 2019.

He was traded to Minnesota before the 2022 season and batted .205 with 16 homers and 61 RBIs in 128 games last year.

With the Padres, Sánchez could also be a candidate for at-bats at designated hitter, where 42-year-old Nelson Cruz is batting .245 with three homers, 16 RBIs and a .670 OPS, and 37-year-old Matt Carpenter is hitting .174 with four homers, 21 RBIs and a .652 OPS.