While the ride wasn't as smooth as we might have hoped, the destination was right. The Red Sox beat the Yankees last night to advance to the American League Championship Series against the Houston Astros.
The Red Sox have now won seven of their last eight playoff games agains the Yankees. Pretty dominating if you ask me.
And while the Series ended up being an easy win, every game wasn't. And, the clincher certainly wasn't. But, they can't all be 16-1 games, can they?
So, thoughts from last night?
I wasn't a huge fan of taking Porcello out after five. Obviously Cora knew what he was doing, and bringing in Barnes to face the Yankees thumpers makes some sense. I guess I'm just tired of the quick playoff hook the Red Sox have been using in the playoffs the last few years. Want to know why the Red Sox starters don't win? Because they get taken out after giving up three runs in four innings. Porcello was going along pretty well, and I guess I would have tried to get one more out of him. Which, I suppose, is why they didn't hire me as manager.
I loved Chris Sale coming in for the eighth. No, not because I thought he was the best option or idea (although, he probably was). I loved it because it meant Cora really didn't have any concerns about him. To hear the EEidiots talk about Sale, he was a fragile peach who could very well be terrible next time on the mound. But, the guys who actually knows something clearly didn't share those thoughts. Obviously, Cora isn't worried about the shoulder. He's not treating Sale with kid gloves hoping to squeeze two more starts out of him. He's also clearly convinced that the mechanical flaw is fixed. The eighth inning of an elimination game isn't the place to hope something turns out OK.
Kimbrel was not sharp.
Unless, he was? One thing that always made me ponder with Dice-K is that he always seemed to work himself out of trouble. He'd walk the bases loaded and then strike out the next three. Or so it seemed. He was also known for throwing a ton of pitches, going back to high school. I always wondered if that was a strategy. Walk the guys that are tough outs, go after the ones who he can handle. Does Kimbrel follow an approach like that? Facing Judge in the ninth inning with a three run lead? Nibble a bit, see if he'll chase. If not, a baserunner in that situation isn't terrible. Because he seemed to go from being "wild" against Judge to being able to handle Stanton. I bet he figured he could handle Sanchez too. Now, I wouldn't say his plan was to load the bases. But, I would understand it if he didn't consider it a terrible idea either.
Or he just wasn't sharp.
I'm sure people have been mentioning it, but the play by Pearce to end the game seems underrated to me. Not only did he actually get the out, but he kept the ball from getting by him in the first place. That's a tough play in that situation when you know that if the ball gets by you, the game is probably tied...if not over. Heck, even a little bobble might have been enough. But, he grabbed it clean and just kept his foot on the bag long enough. Pretty impressive.
Which is what happens on good teams. Everyone contributes when they're needed.
It's how you win a playoff series.
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