Red Sox Shut Down Aaron Judge, Yankees to Win Game 4, Advance to ALCS vs. Astros

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistOctober 10, 2018

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 09:  Rick Porcello #22 of the Boston Red Sox reacts after closing out the fifth inning against the New York Yankees in Game Four of the American League Division Series at Yankee Stadium on October 09, 2018 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Mike Stobe/Getty Images

The Boston Red Sox advanced to the American League Championship Series with a 4-3 win over the New York Yankees on Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium.

Rick Porcello started for the Red Sox and silenced the high-powered Yankees offense in his five innings. He allowed one run on four hits and struck out one.

The Yankees mounted a rally in the ninth inning, scoring twice off Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel, but Gleyber Torres grounded out to third to end the game.

Steve Pearce and Eduardo Nunez each had two hits for Boston, with the latter driving home one run, to help the Red Sox get by despite Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi combining to go 0-for-8 at the top of the order.

      

Aaron Boone's Inexperience Proves Costly for Yankees

In one playoff series, Yankees manager Aaron Boone erased most—if not all—of the good will he generated by leading the team to 100 wins in the regular season.

Boone received criticism for sticking with Luis Severino too long in Game 3 on Monday, when Severino exited in the fourth inning with the bases loaded and the Yankees down 3-0. By the end of the frame, New York trailed 10-0.

Boone didn't learn from his mistake Tuesday night.

CC Sabathia opened the third inning by hitting Benintendi and allowing a single to Pearce. The veteran left-hander remained in the game despite looking shaky and surrendering a sacrifice fly to J.D. Martinez. Two batters later, Ian Kinsler plated Pearce with a double. Then Kinsler scored on Nunez's single to give the Red Sox a 3-0 lead.

Once again, Boone sat idle as his starting pitcher unraveled. All his best relievers—who were fresh since they didn't pitch Monday night—remained in the bullpen.

Boone learned the hard way a manager has to have a quick hook in the postseason, especially in an elimination game. Any one of Dellin Betances, Zach Britton or David Robertson would've been a sensible replacement for Sabathia in the third inning.

Yankees managers are evaluated on their postseason performance, and the ALDS was a baptism by fire for Boone. He won't be jettisoned this offseason, but his mishandling of the pitching staff will have him under the microscope in 2019.

     

Balanced Red Sox Offense Will Push Astros Aces to the Limit

The Astros trio of Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Dallas Keuchel allowed five earned runs in 17.1 innings in their ALDS sweep of the Cleveland Indians. Houston likely won't be able to count on that kind of dominance in the ALCS when it faces off with the best offense in MLB.

The Red Sox ranked first in on-base percentage (.339) and slugging percentage (.453) and, according to FanGraphs, were also first in weighted on-base average (.340) and third in weighted runs created plus (110).

Even the unsung heroes are delivering for Boston. Brock Holt hit for the cycle in Game 3, and Kinsler was good as Holt's replacement in Game 4, going 1-for-4 with the RBI double. No. 9 hitter Christian Vazquez, who hit three home runs in the regular season, went yard in the fourth inning Tuesday night.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora seems to have the Midas touch.

While good pitching tends to trump good hitting in October, the Boston lineup is so stacked it could be the difference in the ALCS.

Granted, the Red Sox may need to score a ton of runs to provide enough of a cushion for a bullpen that remains a trouble spot.

   

Improving Starting Rotation Easier Said Than Done for Yankees in Offseason

Especially after such a disappointing end to the season, one assumes the Yankees will spare no expense to strengthen their roster in the offseason. Manny Machado and Bryce Harper headline the upcoming free-agent class, and both are destined to be targets for New York.

All the money in the world can't guarantee the Yankees strengthen one of their biggest issues, though.

Sabathia, J.A. Happ and Lance Lynn will be free agents. Independent of what those three do, New York will want to add to its starting rotation. The problem is, free agency won't provide a bounty of elite starting pitchers.

Clayton Kershaw can opt out of his contract but would come with some big question marks. He hasn't made 30-plus starts since 2015, and his 3.19 FIP in 2018 was the second-worst of his career, per Baseball Reference. As much as signing one of the greatest pitchers of a generation can be risky, signing Kershaw—for the price it would take to get him out of Los Angeles—would be risky.

After Kershaw, you're looking at Keuchel, Patrick Corbin, David Price—another opt-out candidate—and Charlie Morton as the best options on the market.

In a vacuum, any one of those four would provide an upgrade for the Yankees. But you have to factor in how much New York might have to overpay to land one of the top arms available. Signing Corbin would be nice; signing Corbin for $25 million to $30 million annually would be less nice.

General manager Brian Cashman will have to get creative to build a rotation that can match the Yankees' star-studded lineup.

      

What's Next?

The Red Sox will meet the defending World Series champion Houston Astros in the ALCS. Game 1 is scheduled for Saturday at Fenway Park, with the first pitch set for 8:09 p.m. ET.

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