The Red Sox beat the Yankees 4-2 in Game 4 to take the series and move on to face the Astros in the ALCS. It’s actually Boston’s first trip to the ALCS since they won the World Series in 2013, which is pretty hard to believe; they’d lost in the ALDS each of the last three seasons.
Boston snapped that streak with authority, though, winning with a series run total of 27-9 thanks to their massive 16-1 Game 3 victory. Tonight’s game was a bit closer throughout (perhaps by default), but it was still close enough that the Red Sox went to Chris Sale to protect the lead in the 8th inning. In the short-term, at least, it proved to be the right move, as Sale baffled the Yankees for a clean inning.
The ninth inning, though, was anything but routine, as the typically dominant Craig Kimbrel issued a four-pitch walk to start the inning, and then allowed a seeing-eye single from Didi Gregorius.
That meant Giancarlo Stanton came to the plate as the potential tying run, although Kimbrel made quick work of him:
That brought Luke Voit to the plate, and after working a 3-0 count, Voit took a close pitch for ball four:
That loaded the bases, and Kimbrel promptly plunked Neil Walker to bring home a run:
That meant the winning run was on first for New York with Gary Sanchez at the plate. Kimbrel got ahead of Sanchez 1-2, but eventually the count ran full, as Kimbrel clearly didn’t have his top command. With the full count, Kimbrel was forced to challenge Sanchez, and he almost paid for it:
That was a few yards from a walk-off, season-saving grand slam for Sanchez. What a moment that would have been. Instead, it meant rookie infielder Gleyber Torres came to the plate with a chance to tie the run with a hit. Kimbrel once again worked a 1-2 count, before Torres hit a weak chopper that he probably should have beaten out.
Just how close was that play at first? Well, baseball is sometimes a game of literal inches:
What a game.
And now, the ALCS and NLCS are set, with the NLCS kicking things off on Friday in Milwaukee, and the ALCS starting in Boston on Saturday:
.@MLB announces the start times for Games 1-2 of the ALCS and NLCS. FS1 airs Game 1 of NLCS with Fox on the case in Game 2. TBS will have the entire ALCS starting either in Boston or Houston. pic.twitter.com/dEsfOCK1S5
— Ken Fang is Tired (@fangsbites) October 10, 2018
Let’s hope both of those series are more like the ninth inning tonight, instead of pretty much the rest of the opening round.