No 1978 mystique, no postseason magic. Just an exit with a whimper.
The New York Yankees’ season is over woefully short of initial expectations as they dropped the single-elimination American League Wild Card Game to the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on Tuesday night, 6-2.
The Red Sox, who will face the Tampa Bay Rays in the best-of-five ALDS beginning Thursday, launched two home runs and scratched three runs in the first three innings of the game — chasing Yankees ace Gerrit Cole after just two-plus innings. It was the shortest postseason start of his career; not nearly the kind of return on investment New York had hoped for when they doled out $324 million for him last year.
Boston shortstop Xander Bogaerts stole the show with a two-run round-tripper, a pair of runs scored, and vital defense to keep the Yankees at bay while starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi out-dueled Cole and continued to haunt the Bronx Bombers.
After stimying the Yankees in the 2018 ALDS, Eovaldi allowed just one run on four hits while striking out eight in 5.1 innings pitched.
Giancarlo Stanton came within feet of putting the Yankees up early when he skied a deep drive to left field. It looked gone off the bat — and Stanton thought it was, too, as he entered his home-run trot.
The problem was it rang off the Green Monster, limiting Stanton to a single.
In the bottom of the first, there was no such uncertainty surrounding Bogaerts’ big fly; a two-out, two-run shot to dead-center to put Boston up.
After Cole experienced some control issues with his fastball early — including a walk to Rafael Devers — he went exclusively offspeed to Bogaerts. It was an 88-mph hanging changeup, just as the Red Sox faithful began chanting “Gerrit, Gerrit,” that Bogaerts was able to turn on and send 427 feet into the Fenway Park seats.
Kyle Schwarber made Cole pay for a missed 97-mph fastball that he tried to sneak by the lefty slugger high and inside. The Yankees’ ace didn’t get it up enough, though, as Schwarber caught up to it and launched it well past the Pesky Pole in right field.
After walking Devers again, Cole got the hook from Aaron Boone without recording a single out in the third inning.
With runners on first and second with no outs, the Yankees turned to their top ground-ball reliever in Clay Holmes to find a way out of the jam and he did just that — striking out Bogaerts before inducing an inning-ending double play from Alex Verdugo.
But the Yankees lineup continued to struggle with Eovaldi, who came with a bulldog mentality of going after his opponents. It prompted the Yankees to be much more aggressive at the plate while shortening at-bats. It took the Red Sox’s righty just 53 pitches to get through the first four innings.
It took him just 11 to get through the fifth, including strikeouts of Brett Gardner and Kyle Higashioka to up his night’s total to seven.
After striking out Rougned Odor to start the sixth, Eovaldi had retired 11 straight batters and 14 of his previous 15 to that point, but his first pitch — a 79-mph curveball — to Anthony Rizzo was turned on and snuck just inside the right-field foul pole to finally get the Yankees on the board.
Eovaldi’s night lasted just one more batter after Aaron Judge beat out an infield single on a slow roller to short as Red Sox manager Alex Cora took no chances. He pulled the starter for Ryan Brasier, who made just 13 appearances during the 2021 season to meet Stanton as the tying run at the plate.
Stanton once again made his assault on the Green Monster, but, once again, the 37-foot wall managed to keep the slugger’s laser inside the ballpark. Red Sox center fielder Enrique Hernandez played the carom perfectly to spark a fundamentally sound relay throw from Bogaerts at short to Kevin Plawecki at home to get Judge, who was trying to score from first, for the second out.
Third-base coach Phil Nevin made the questionable decision to send Judge home, where he was thrown out by 10 feet, rather than have runners on second and third with one out.
Instead, an ensuing Joey Gallo pop-up snuffed out the Yankees’ threat in the sixth.
The Red Sox quickly restored their advantage up to three in the seventh inning off Luis Severino, who had gotten through the previous frame unscathed, when Verdugo lined a double down the right-field line. It hung up in the corner just long enough for Bogaerts — who walked — to score from first.
Verdugo blew the doors open for the Red Sox in the seventh after a combination of Jonathan Loaisiga and Chad Green walked the bases loaded, lining a two-out, two-run single to center before getting thrown out at second trying to stretch it into a double.
Stanton finally got his homer, sneaking a solo shot over the right-field wall opposite the Green Monster, but it was a mere consolation prize in the ninth inning.