The AL Wild Card Game was the fifth time that the Red Sox and Yankees have met in the postseason.
Their first rumble happened during the 1999 ALCS, with New York winning the series 4 – 1 thanks to two dominant starts from ALCS MVP Orlando “El Duque” Hernández.
A rematch in the 2003 ALCS culminated with a dramatic walk-off home run in Game Seven from Aaron Boone, sending the Yankees to the World Series. Eighteen years later, and Boone still plays a core part in the rivalry.
Boston had their long-awaited moment of redemption one year later in the 2004 ALCS, coming back while down 3 – 0 to win it all in Game Seven—the largest comeback in postseason history. It all started with a steal from Dave Roberts, and it ended with the Red Sox winning their first World Series in 86 years.
The 2018 ALDS went to Boston as well, who crushed the Yankees in Game Three with a 16 – 1 rout, highlighted by Brock Holt hitting the first cycle in playoff history.
Two series wins each for the Red Sox and Yankees.
Who won No. 5?
Yankees 2, Red Sox 6
Two first-inning at-bats set the tone for each team. The Yankees clearly had an aggressive game plan to attack Sox starter Nathan Eovaldi, as three of the first four Bronx Bombers swung at the very first pitch. Giancarlo Stanton sent a 345-foot, 94.8 MPH EV sky-scraping single screaming out to left. Stanton thought it was gone. Yankees radio announcer John Sterling did as well.
“What did I do wrong? What did I see wrong?”
Yankees announcer John Sterling already with the call of the night 🤣
— The Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) October 6, 2021
Eovaldi bunkered down and struck out Joey Gallo to end the first.
Now the Red Sox had their chance to attack Gerrit Cole. Two quick outs opened the inning before Rafael Devers worked a tough walk. Up next was Xander Bogaerts. And he shattered the spirits of Yankees fans and the eardrums of everyone in Fenway as the crowd exploded following this mammoth blast.
Xander Bogaerts 427 foot 💣
Fenway Park is rocking.
— Baseball America (@BaseballAmerica) October 6, 2021
Fans in Fenway went into a frenzy!
SEE A CHUG SEND A CHUG pic.twitter.com/8R57gR4oZa
— Ben Brown (@BenBrownPL) October 6, 2021
A quiet second inning followed for both teams, although the crowd was anything but. From the moment Cole stepped on the mound, Red Sox fans tried to break his concentration.
Remember that famous “CUUUUUEEEEETO” sequence from the 2013 NL Wild Card? Cole probably does—he was in that Pirates dugout. Red Sox fans gave Cole the opportunity to put himself in Johnny Cueto‘s shoes.
"Gerrit" chants at Fenway pic.twitter.com/xSrO9lX54K
— Justin Groc (@justgroc) October 6, 2021
The Yankees bats fell silent in the third as well. For the Red Sox, Kyle Schwarber led off the bottom of the third. It wasn’t the best matchup on paper as Schwarber was just 3-for-17 with 0 HR in his regular-season career against Cole.
But it’s the playoffs! Regular season stats don’t matter now.
On a 1 – 2 pitch, Cole turned to one of his favorite weapons: a power fastball high above the zone. Schwarber saw that pitch all the way. Cole saw flashbacks of his 2015 NL Wild Card start.
2015: Kyle Schwarber hits a home run in the 3rd inning of the Wild Card Game off of Gerrit Cole to give his team a 3-0 lead
2021: Kyle Schwarber hits a home run in the 3rd inning of the Wild Card Game off of Gerrit Cole to give his team a 3-0 lead pic.twitter.com/Md1Lz9aojJ
— Baseball Quotes (@BaseballQuotes1) October 6, 2021
Folks, that is what you call a “no-doubter.” Sabermetrics agree—that pitch had an xBA of 1.000.
A single and a walk later, and Boone took Cole out of the game.
His final line? 2 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, and 3 K on 50 pitches. That is tied for the shortest outing in Cole’s career.
Another former Pirate, Clay Holmes, took over for Cole and shut down the Sox in the third. There wasn’t much to see in the fourth or fifth, but then came the sixth, where the Yankees put together a long-awaited rally.
Anthony Rizzo kicked things off with a classic Pesky Pole poke.
The aggressiveness wasn't successful thru 5… but then…enter Anthony Rizzo https://t.co/sYfxTj30mk pic.twitter.com/Xckrpqdot1
— Alex Fast (@AlexFast8) October 6, 2021
That got Cubs fans feeling a certain type of way.
Cubs fans can feel like they’re in the playoffs too. pic.twitter.com/399ycpgeJT
— B/R Walk-Off (@BRWalkoff) October 6, 2021
Aaron Judge followed that up with a single, and Alex Cora had seen enough. He quickly gave Eovaldi the hook.
Eovaldi, just like he did in the 2018 ALDS, was a bull and shut down that Yankees offense. With his biting breaking pitches, supersonic fastball that topped out at 99.8 MPH, and assortment of different deliveries, the Bronx bats looked awkward all night.
Nathan Eovaldi, Windup/Timing Variations (all from 1 Rizzo AB).
Regular, Leg Hang/Stutter and Quick Pitch. pic.twitter.com/Hsdc8Tv93a
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) October 6, 2021
Final line? 5.1 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, and 8 K on 71 pitches.
The Red Sox hopes relied on Ryan Brasier to retire the red-hot Stanton. What followed will torment Yankees fans for the entire offseason.
Run: Denied ❌
Aaron Judge gets tagged out at the plate, keeping it a 3-1 lead for the Red Sox.
🎥 @espn pic.twitter.com/wtEz5mO5lK
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) October 6, 2021
A once-promising rally now looked dead on arrival. The Yankees ended the half-inning with no more runs.
The rest of the game was an absolute trouncing by the Red Sox on both offense and pitching. Tanner Houck looked like a righty Chris Sale.
Tanner Houck, 95mph Fastball and 85mph Slider, Overlay. pic.twitter.com/4nq9eAvdgH
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) October 6, 2021
And Alex Verdugo came through with clutch hits in back-to-back innings off Luis Severino and Chad Green to tack on three more runs and extinguish any hopes of a Yankees comeback.
Alex Verdugo (25y, 143d) is the youngest @RedSox hitter with a 3-RBI game in a winner-take-all since Dustin Pedroia in ALCS Game 7, 2007. pic.twitter.com/R4gR5myInA
— MLB Stats (@MLBStats) October 6, 2021
The Red Sox simply grabbed ahold of this game and never let go. After Bogaerts’ second-inning home run, Boston had a 71% win probability—they did not fall below that mark for the rest of the game.
Sure, Stanton was finally able to send a homer into the seats in the ninth to cut the lead to 6 – 2. But even though Stanton and Judge carried the Yankees throughout the regular season, they needed someone else to step up in the playoffs.
Unfortunately, their 4 – 9 hitters went 1-for-20 with no walks.
Garrett Whitlock cleanly finished off the ninth, sending the Red Sox to their fourth ALDS appearance in the past six seasons.
ON TO THE NEXT ONE. pic.twitter.com/Wu8f2jXARA
— Red Sox (@RedSox) October 6, 2021
Ever since Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS, the Red Sox have utterly dominated the Yankees in the postseason. In fact, Boston has won eight of their past nine playoff games against New York.
Now, the Red Sox are on to the ALDS to face another division rival: the Rays. Bogaerts will see you there.
We'll see YOU in the ALDS. pic.twitter.com/A7BNhQueIR
— Red Sox (@RedSox) October 6, 2021
Game One takes place Thursday, Oct. 7 at 8:08 EST/5:08 PST.
Photo by Aric Becker/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)
Nice write up, especially as a Yankee fan. The Yankees gave Cole a lot of money to produce in situations just like this. I’m shocked he gave up so quickly. I can’t imagine Scherzer, Pedro, Randy Johnson, etc. giving up like that after a bumpy start. They would all demand to stay in the game and try and figure it out. Plenty of Ace’s have gotten rocked for 3 ER early in a game, only to stay in and settle down. He’s the highest paid pitcher in baseball and it felt like he just gave up on his team and his fans.
Even if he really fought to continue the game, I don’t think the Yankees brass would’ve allowed him to stay in. Both teams were running with a very quick hook. And ever since Cole’s hamstring injury on Sept. 7, his stuff has been a lot more hittable.
In the four starts that proceeded that Sept. 7 start, Cole had a 0.73 ERA, 0.851 WHIP and 14.23 K/9 while allowing only 1 HR in 24.2 innings. But since that start, including the Wild Card Game, he’s had a 6.35 ERA, 1.694 WHIP and 9.85 K/9 while allowing 8 HRs in 28.1 innings. Part of me suspects that Cole’s hamstring injury has had a bigger impact on his recent performance than he’s let on.