EditorsNote: update 2: fixes to “Saturday” in second graf; adds quotes
Craig Kimbrel escaped a bases-loaded jam in the ninth inning, and the Boston Red Sox held on for a 4-3 victory over the host New York Yankees on Tuesday night to win an American League Division Series in four games.
The Red Sox advance to the AL Championship Series, where they will host Houston Astros in Game 1 on Saturday.
Kimbrel created his mess with no outs by loading the bases on four-pitch walks to Aaron Judge and Luke Voit sandwiched around a single by Didi Gregorius. He allowed two runs by hitting Neil Walker in the foot with a pitch and allowing a sacrifice fly to Gary Sanchez to deep left.
Gleyber Torres’ grounder to third ended the game. Torres hit a slow ground ball, and Eduardo Nunez fielded it. Nunez threw across the diamond to first baseman Steve Pearce, who stretched to make the catch.
The Red Sox began celebrating, but the Yankees challenged the initial call. After 63 seconds, the original ruling was upheld, and Boston formally began celebrating to advance to its 11th ALCS and first since beating the Detroit Tigers in 2013.
“Super weird,” Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts said of the delayed ending. “I think we all kind of knew he was out. Once it was official, a sigh of relief, we finally made it.”
The Red Sox carried a 4-1 lead into the ninth thanks to J.D. Martinez’s sacrifice fly, run-scoring hits by Ian Kinsler and Nunez and a solo home run by Christian Vazquez.
Rick Porcello (1-0) and three relievers preceded Kimbrel’s high-wire act.
Moved back a day after throwing 15 pitches in the eighth inning of Game 1, Porcello displayed command of the strike zone most of the night. He held the Yankees to one run on four hits in five innings.
Boston scored three in the third off CC Sabathia (0-1), and it started with a sacrifice fly by Martinez. Kinsler made it 2-0 with a double over Brett Gardner’s head in left, and Nunez boosted the lead to 3-0 with a single to left.
Those hits came a night after Brock Holt and Rafael Devers helped the Red Sox roll to a 16-1 rout in Game 3. Holt and Devers returned to the bench as Kinsler and Nunez re-entered the starting lineup.
The Red Sox made it 4-0 in the fourth when Vazquez lined a 2-1 fastball into the right field seats off Zach Britton.
Matt Barnes got two groundouts in a scoreless sixth, Ryan Brasier pitched a perfect seventh, and Chris Sale ended a scoreless eighth by striking out Aaron Hicks.
In possibly his final start of a 10-year run with the Yankees, Sabathia allowed three runs on five hits in three innings.
Sabathia had issues with the strike zone of plate umpire issues Angel Hernandez.
“He shouldn’t be doing these playoff games,” the veteran lefty said. “He’s bad. I don’t know why he’s doing these games.”
Boston recorded its fourth straight postseason win in New York. Since losing Game 2 of the 2004 ALCS, the Red Sox have outscored the Yankees 34-9 in postseason games in the Bronx.
“We’re a complete team, and we count on everybody to win games,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “The last two games, if you think about it, it was fun to watch.”
Before the media entered the celebrating visitors’ clubhouse, the Red Sox tweaked their rivals by blaring “New York, New York.”
The Yankees won 100 regular-season games this year for the first time since 2009, but they failed to match their postseason result of a year ago, when they lost the ALCS in seven games to the Astros.
“Anytime you win 100 games in a year, you got to feel pretty proud about that,” New York infielder Neil Walker said. “In the end, the other team, especially a team in your own division, played really well for 162 games and took care of business from day one to today.”
—Field Level Media