The mantra of baseball- especially in the postseason- has always been to get to the bullpen as soon as you can do so. No one expected the Boston Red Sox to get Gerrit Cole out of there so early, but that’s just what they did. And it led to an AL Wild Card game victory that puts them into the ALDS against Tampa Bay. The 6-2 win saw the Red Sox chase the New York Yankees’ best pitcher after just two innings pitched. Cole conceded a two-run homer to Xander Bogaerts in the bottom of the first at Fenway and followed that up by giving up a third-inning solo shot to Kyle Schwarber. After two more men got aboard, Aaron Boone had to pull the plug.
On the opposite side, Nathan Eovaldi was pitching one of his best-ever games, going five and a third. He gave up one run, a homer to Anthony Rizzo in the top of the sixth, before being pulled, but he was magical in the early innings to set the tone for the Red Sox, mixing up his deliveries to fool the Bronx Bombers’ bats. Alex Verdugo then took over the game, doubling in the bottom half of the same frame to restore a three-run lead at 4-1. He then singled in the seventh, allowing two more runs across to increase the lead to 6-1. Giancarlo Stanton’s home run, a solo blast, in the top of the ninth proved to be mere consolation, and you have to believe there will be a reckoning in New York now due to their inability to advance further. The National League Wild Card game will take place on Wednesday night, pitting the St. Louis Cardinals against the defending World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers to complete the playoff field.