BOSTON (AP) _ As the ball sailed over the center field fence, landing 427 feet from the plate in a horde of happy Red Sox fans, Xander Bogaerts turned to the Boston dugout to flex his muscles before resuming his home run trot.
This is the matchup the Yankees wanted.
And the Red Sox were ready.
Bogaerts and Kyle Schwarber homered off Yankees ace Gerrit Cole, and Nathan Eovaldi took a shutout into the sixth inning in the AL wild-card game to help the Red Sox beat New York 6-2 on Tuesday night.
Bogaerts also cut down Aaron Judge at the plate in the sixth as Boston advanced to the best-of-five AL Division Series against the Rays.
Game 1 Thursday night in St. Petersburg, Florida.
“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.”
The Yankees, who lead the majors with 27 World Series championships, have not won it all since 2009. After angling for a matchup with the Red Sox in a potential tiebreaker, the Yankees wound up in Boston for the wild-card game instead.
And the Red Sox beat them in the postseason for the third straight try.
“Guys are crushed,” New York manager Aaron Boone said. “The ending is really cruel. But there’s nothing better than competing for something meaningful.”
A year after baseball took its postseason into neutral site bubbles to protect against the pandemic, a sellout crowd of 38,324 — the biggest at Fenway Park since the 2018 World Series _ filled the old yard to rekindle one of the sport’s most passionate rivalries. Enough Yankee fans were among them to fuel a raucous back-and-forth of insulting chants.
“The Bogaerts homer in the first inning _ I mean, talk about a pop. And, you know, the crowd went nuts, and you feed off that energy,” Schwarber said. “You thrive for that, and Red Sox nation brought it tonight. We needed it, and you can’t say enough about the crowd.”
It was the fifth playoff matchup between the longtime foes, with Boston taking a 3-2 edge. That doesn’t count the 1978 AL East tiebreaker — technically regular season Game No. 163 — that the Yankees won thanks to Bucky Dent’s homer into the net above the Green Monster.
Boone was a New York third baseman when added to the heartbreak with his 11th-inning walk-off homer in Game 7 of the 2003 AL Championship Series.
The Red Sox haven’t lost to them since.
They got their revenge the next year when they rallied after losing the first three games of the ALCS to eliminate the Yankees, then went on to win their first World Series title in 86 years. They won three more championships, in ’07, `13 and in ’18 when they knocked out the Yankees in the divisional round.
Any lingering pain disappeared into the center field bleachers in the first inning on Tuesday night.
Unlike Dent, who barely cleared the left-field wall that sits just 310 feet from home plate, Bogaerts drilled a line drive 427 feet to straightaway center. And unlike Carlton Fisk, who contorted his body to will the ball fair in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series, Bogaerts interrupted his home run trot only to flex for the Red Sox dugout.
With Dent in the crowd and Aaron Boone in the Yankees dugout, the Red Sox chased Cole in the third after he allowed Schwarber’s solo shot and put two more men on with nobody out. In all, he was charged with three runs on four hits and two walks, striking out three in two-plus innings.
Cole said he felt “sick to my stomach.”
“This is the worst feeling in the world,” said the star who signed a $324 million, nine-year deal to join the Yankees for the 2019 season.
Eovaldi only allowed two hits through five innings before giving up a solo home run to Anthony Rizzo — Schwarber’s teammate on the 2016 Cubs championship team — that sparked the first excited cheers from the Yankees fans in the crowd.
With Boston leading 3-1, Judge followed with an infield single that finished Eovaldi, and reliever Ryan Brasier gave up a wall single to Giancarlo Stanton. Mistakenly waved home by third base coach Phil Nevin, Judge was easily thrown out at the plate — 8-6-2 — by the team that led the majors with 43 outfield assists during the season. (The Yankees made 22 outs at home this season, tied for the most in baseball.)
“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,” he said.
In all, Eovaldi allowed one run on four hits in 5 1/3 innings, striking out eight.
Alex Verdugo hit an RBI double in the sixth, driving in a hustling Bogaerts from first, to make it 4-1 and then singled in two more in the seventh to give Boston a 6-1 lead.
Stanton, who singled high off the wall early, hit a solo homer in the ninth to make it 6-2. Joey Gallo followed with a deep drive to right that was caught at the warning track by Hunter Renfroe.
With one last “Yankees suck!” chant echoing through the ballpark, Garrett Whitlock got Gleyber Torres to pop up to center to end it.
The Red Sox poured out of their dugout and bullpen to celebrate at the pitcher’s mound as “Dirty Water” played on the speakers. A few Yankees stood in the dugout and watched.
The teams swapped places twice in the last 10 days of the season, starting with the Yankees’ three-game sweep in Boston Sept. 24-26 that moved them into the first wild-card spot. At one point, Major League Baseball ran through the tiebreaker scenarios and the Yankees had to choose whether they would want to play in Boston or Toronto to break a four-way tie.
They chose Boston.
Although the tiebreakers weren’t necessary when both teams finished ahead of Toronto and Seattle — with identical 92-70 records, Boston earned home-field by virtue of a 10-9 head-to-head record — word of the Yankees’ decision inevitably made it to the Red Sox clubhouse.
“We knew about it. We don’t really talk about it because we had some business to take care of ourselves,” Red Sox center fielder Kike Hernandez said before the game. “They wanted us and they got us now, so win or go home. That’s it.”
Yankees: 3B Gio Urshela played despite bruising his thigh in the regular-season finale when he fell into the dugout after catching a foul popup.
Red Sox: Boston was without its regular DH, J.D. Martinez, who sprained his ankle in the regular-season finale. Martinez, who was playing the field in Washington, because there was no DH in an NL park, slipped on second base as he ran out to his position in the outfield.
Yankees: Pitchers and catchers are due to report for spring training on Feb. 14.
Red Sox: Open the best-of-five ALDS against Tampa Bay on Thursday. The Rays went 11-8 against Boston this season.
Astros' Garcia to start Game 6 of ALCS against Red Sox – Sportsnet.ca
Garcia started Game 2 and gave up a grand slam in the first inning before leaving with no outs in the second because of discomfort in his right knee. Manager Dusty Baker announced Thursday that Garcia would get the ball for Game 6 and said the Astros are confident the problem is behind Garcia and he’ll be 100% healthy for Friday’s start.
The Astros fell behind 2-1 in the series after two big wins by the Red Sox. But they rode their powerful offence to consecutive victories in the last two games to take the series lead and move within a win of advancing to the World Series for the second time in three seasons.
The Astros won the championship in 2017, a crown tainted by the team’s sign-stealing scandal, before losing to the Washington Nationals in seven games in the 2019 World Series.
The Red Sox previously announced that Nathan Eovaldi would start Game 6. Eovaldi got the win in a solid Game 2 start but was charged with the loss in Game 4 after giving up the go-ahead runs after coming in with the game tied in the ninth.
The Astros got eight terrific innings from Framber Valdez in a 9-1 win in Game 5. The performance gave Houston’s taxed bullpen a much-needed break after relievers pitched 29 1/3 innings combined through the first four games.
Baker said Jake Odorizzi would be available for long relief Friday if needed. Odorizzi threw 82 pitches in four innings in Game 2 after taking over following the injury to Garcia.
Baker also said rookie center fielder Jake Meyers, who hasn’t played this series after injuring his shoulder in the final game of the ALDS, probably wouldn’t return to the lineup in this series. He said Meyers could pinch-run or pinch-hit but isn’t ready to return to the field. Fellow rookies Chas McCormick and rookie Jose Siri have filled in at center against the Red Sox.
Houston is without ace Lance McCullers Jr. for this series because of a flexor pronator muscle strain in his right arm. Baker said Thursday that McCullers still hasn’t resumed throwing, so it’s unclear if he would be available to return if the Astros were to advance.
If necessary, Game 7 would be Saturday night in Houston.
NFL Prop Picks For Browns vs. Broncos: Bet This Donovan Peoples-Jones Over/Under On Thursday Night Football – The Action Network
Jason Miller/Getty Images. Pictured: Donovan Peoples-Jones #11 of the Cleveland Browns celebrates after a touchdown
Sean Koerner, our Director of Predictive Analytics, is highlighting his favorite player prop for every primetime game throughout the 2021 season. He has a 428-326-6 (56%) all-time record on NFL bets he’s tracked in the Action app.
Broncos-Browns Prop Bet
Donovan Peoples-Jones Under 2.5 Receptions
Editor’s Note: Now that Odell Beckham Jr. is officially active, Browns player props are off the board at most books.
Peoples-Jones has been on fire over the past two weeks, posting lines of 5/70/0 & 4/101/2 against the Chargers and Cardinals, respectively. However, I believe it’s time to “sell high” on him as he’s due for some regression.
He’s caught a ridiculous 86.7% of his targets this season despite seeing an aDot of 15.7. Players with an aDot that high typically average a catch rate in the 57-60% range.
There are a few other reasons why my projections are lower for him compared to the market:
- Case Keenum is starting in place of Baker Mayfield tonight. Peoples-Jones has shown great chemistry with Mayfield over the past couple of games. The QB change seems like a setback for him.
- Weather could be a factor tonight. Steady winds of approximately 20 mph are expected with the possibility of some occasional rain. That would (in theory) negatively impact a high-aDot player like Peoples-Jones.
- Jarvis Landry is making his return from IR. He should be Keenum’s main target tonight, while the TE group should also see an increase in target share after a season-low five targets as a group last week. I also expect RB/WR Demetric Felton to have an expanded role tonight and he has been heavily targeted (37.5% of routes run) when on the field this season.
I’m projecting DPJ for 2.3 receptions tonight with a median projection of 31.5 receiving yards (market is currently at 38.5) — I’d give this under about a 60% chance of hitting. He’s the type of player who could clear his yardage prop on a couple of deep catches, so the safer play here is to take the under for his receptions, especially since we are getting + money. I would bet this down to -105.
Pick: Donovan Peoples-Jones Under 2.5 Receptions (+115) at BetMGM
Canadiens fans welcome Kotkaniemi back to Montreal with boos, vulgar chant – Yahoo Canada Sports
The Carolina Hurricanes were in Montreal on Thursday night to face the Canadiens at the Bell Centre, marking the return of Jesperi Kotkaniemi, who was at the centre of petty off-season drama after signing an offer sheet with the Canes.
In true hockey fashion, the Bell Centre crowd greeted the 21-year-old with boos and taunting chants.
The Canadiens acknowledged the former third-overall pick by displaying him on the jumbotron, which in turn sparked another wave of disapproval from the near-sellout crowd.
It was Kotkaniemi who got the last laugh, though, tipping in a goal in the third period for his first point with the Hurricanes — much to the delight of Hockey Twitter. Carolina ended up walking away with the 4-1 victory, keeping Montreal winless on the season.
The native of Pori, Finland appeared in 171 games for the Habs over three seasons, scoring 22 goals and notching 40 assists. He also registered 12 points in 29 playoff games, including five goals in Montreal’s run to the Stanley Cup Final last season.
Carolina tendered an offer sheet to Kotkaniemi in late August, offering a one-year contract at $6.1 million. Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin chose not to match, and Montreal received a first- and third-round pick as compensation.
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