A few basics of baseball: walks by your pitching staff will kill you, contact is always better than striking out, smart base-running is the difference between a good team and a great team.
If you take a look at last night’s American League Wild Card game box score after reading that first sentence, you’ll be able to tell which team is advancing to the ALDS and which team is headed home for a long, cold winter.
The Boston Red Sox were the better team from the first pitch Tuesday night, ending the Yankees season with a 6-2 victory.
Cy Young candidate Gerrit Cole was chased after just two innings, giving up a two-run shot to Xander Bogaerts in the first, and a massive home run to Kyle Schwarber in the third.
“Sick to my stomach,” Cole said after the game, adding later, “This is the worst feeling in the world, and it happens to 29 teams every year, going home early and not achieving your ultimate goal.
The $324 million man came into the winner-take-all matchup struggling, owner of a 6.15 ERA in his last five starts, and didn’t have anywhere near his best stuff from first pitch.
Cole has a checkered history at Fenway Park — a 1-4 record with 5.21 era in seven career starts — but it’s not like he got any help from a Yankees offense that is known for smashing balls out of the ballpark.
The Yankees managed just six hits and two runs on the night, striking out 11 times with zero walks. On the other hand, Boston walked seven times, including three walks in the seventh, which allowed Alex Verdugo to break the game open with a two-out two-run single.
New York also shot themselves in the foot in an area that has been a problem for them all season — the bases.
In the top of the sixth inning, the Yankees finally got on the board with a solo shot from first baseman Anthony Rizzo. Aaron Judge followed with an infield single, giving Yankees fans in attendance a reason to cheer for the first time all night and ending Red Sox starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi’s evening.
Giancarlo Stanton followed with a long shot to center that hit off the wall. Judge — not known for his speed — was shockingly sent home by third base coach Phil Nevin, and was thrown out by a few feet after a perfect Red Sox relay, stalling the Yankees’ best opportunity to get back into the game.
“That was better than a homer for me, personally,” Bogaerts said. “I mean, if that run scores, it’s 3-2, Stanton is at second base, the whole momentum is on their side. The dugout is getting pumped up.”
“As Judge was out at home, I saw Stanton was pretty mad. He probably wanted a homer there, but also an RBI, and he didn’t get that, and he probably felt like he didn’t do much because that run didn’t score. But that changed the game.”
It was the perfect example of the 2021 Yankees, an up and down team that struggled to do the little things well all season long.
“I think coming in, the ball coming in looked like it was going to be kind of an in-between hop to the infielder,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said in his postgame news conference. “Bogaerts did a good job of creating a hop, catching it clean and obviously throwing home and getting him. And that kind of squashed the potential rally there so I think what saw was what he thought was going to be kind of an in-between hop and really a tough chance.”
Boone has been much maligned for much of the 2021 campaign, with many calling for a managerial change as the Yankees have failed to make it to the World Series in Boone’s four seasons.
“I haven’t had any conversations about [my contract] with anyone, so we’ll see,” Boone said. “I love being here. I love going to work with this group of players.”
“The league has closed the gap on us,” Boone later said. “We’ve got to get better in every aspect. Because it’s not just the Red Sox and the Astros now in our league. Look at our division, the Rays are a beast, Toronto, there’s some teams in the Central that are better and better, teams in the West that are better and better, teams that have closed the gap on us.”
Boone’s contract ends after the 2021 season.
For Boston, they advance to the ALDS to face the Tampa Bay Rays in a best of five series starting on Thursday.
“Now, we go to the next one, and we’ve just got to be ready to face a great baseball team,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “Coming into the season, everybody talked about them being the best team in the big leagues, and we have a huge challenge. But we’re ready for it.”
Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to email@example.com.
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