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ALDS: What We Learned in Game 3

I can’t lie. I was anxious going into game 3 of the ALDS. David Price managed a measly inning and two thirds in game 2, and the Sox bats weren’t looking great.

ALDS: What We Learned in Game 3

Estimated Reading Time: 7 Minutes

I can’t lie. I was anxious going into game 3 of the ALDS. David Price managed a measly inning and two thirds in game 2, and the Sox bats weren’t looking great. The original plan for game 3 was to start Rick Porcello. Though a Cy Young award winner two years ago, Porcello struggled last year and the Sox managed a first-round exit in both years. This year, Rick got back to his Cy Young candidate ways and helped Boston to the best record in their history.

Then game 1 happened and Porcello entered the game in relief of Chris Sale. I’m not going to lie (see the trend already?), I was pissed. We were going to need a solid game 3 and I thought Sale could have thrown a few more in that first game. Porcello pitched well in a short relief stint, and the Red Sox were able to take that game. And Porcello was pushed to be the game 4 starter.

Next up? Nathan Eovaldi

Eovaldi joined the Sox via trade on July 25th. Since then he has pitched in 12 games going 3-3 with a 3.33 ERA. Those stats all point to him having a big role in the ALDS…in game…3. I’m sensing a magic number here.

Just prior to the game, I texted my buddy Jason and fellow Turf writer Mark DiGiammarino saying that I’m here for #Natefor8. Basically, after putting six different guys on the mound through the first two games, the Red Sox needed Eovaldi to go deep in this one. That wasn’t going to be an easy task against a Yankees team who both led MLB in home runs and came to life in game 2 at Fenway. But boy did he deliver.

Eovaldi ended up going 7 innings giving up 1 run on 5 hits and striking out 5. He managed to throw fewer than 100 pitches, he threw 97, and gave the Sox exactly what they needed in some bullpen rest. In the first two innings he got all his pitches going and ranged from a fastball at 100 MPH to a breaking ball at 85 MPH. If you can mix and place those pitches well enough, that’s a great outing every five days.

Angel Hernandez is a joke

Angel Hernandez. I don’t want to have this conversation, but good lord was he bad.  Hernandez filed a lawsuit against MLB in the summer of 2017 claiming that minority umpires don’t get scheduled for enough high profile games. For the most part, I can’t argue with this claim. At that point, each of the umpires promoted to crew chief in the previous 17 years had been white, and only one minority ump had worked a World Series game in the previous six.

This may legitimately be an issue, but Hernandez is the wrong guy to make these claims. The Cuban native has had a very up and down career, and his performance in game 3 of the ALDS proves that he’s name made for the big time.

If I’m being honest, I thought there were about 42 calls Hernandez made at first base that forced a replay. Hyperbole aside, he had three calls overturned. THREE. And they were in close succession. That’s simply embarrassing. I don’t know what his eyes were seeing tonight, but it was something different than everyone else watching in Boston and New York. His calls damn near overshadowed how bad the Yankees were…and they lost 16-1.

The worst part about this is Hernandez has the home plate assignment for game 4. God help us all. On one hand, I’m glad MLB replay doesn’t allow review on balls and strikes. If they did, game 4 would probably go for 7 hours. On the other hand, we’re going to see a lot of bad calls. Hold on to your butts, Sox and Yankees fans. Regardless of who has the advantage tomorrow, there’s an outside factor that is likely to throw a wrench in your team’s plans.

Red Sox bats came alive

After struggling to get on base in game 2, the Red Sox found a way in game 3. Behind Eovaldi’s stellar performance, they were able to pick apart a Luis Severino pitching on short rest and force Aaron Boone to go to the bullpen more than once before the fifth inning. 

MVP Candidate Mookie Betts came into the game hitting .143. If that wasn’t a sign the Sox bats were struggling, I don’t know what would be. The Sox managed to squeak out 16 runs almost entirely playing small ball. Brock Holt’s 9th inning home run was the sole homer in a game in which we saw 17 total runs cross the plate.

Of the 11 Red Sox players to make a plate appearance, 9 of them reached base at least twice. And one of those guys was a pinch hitter (Blake Swihart) who only made one plate appearance. And even though he didn’t win the game at the plate, he has to win best beard of the game. And in that competition all the Yankees are tied for last place. Because the Yankees preach no fun. (I wouldn’t really care, but they ruined my view of Andrew McCutchen, so I felt the need to call this out.)

Yanks need to save the ‘pen

Boone may have made a mistake going with Luis Severino instead of CC Sabathia in game 3. Severino is solid and pitched well in the Wild Card game against Oakland last week, but he probably needed another day of rest before going out against a desperate Red Sox team. Sabathia is born for the postseason, but the guy isn’t getting any younger. He’s set to start game 4, but is only likely to go about 5 innings.

At 38, CC is still a stud, but you can’t expect him to get to the 7th inning. If Boone had switched the games they started in, it’s possible that he could have gotten a rested Severino throwing a game similar to the one he threw against Oakland. And that’s a game changer in this ALDS.

Instead, Severino was chased from the game in the 4th inning, as was his initial replacement Lance Lynn. The Yanks struggled on the mound all night against a Red Sox team that was relentlessly swinging the bat and finding ways to get runners in scoring position, and subsequently across the plate. This was most apparent in the 9th inning when Boone decided to stray from the actual bullpen staff and put the ball in the hands of backup catcher Austin Romine.

I have to say, I was rather impressed with what Romine put out there. Sure, he gave up a home run to Brock Holt, but he was able to take one for the team in garbage time, and do what he could to save the rest of the bullpen from an additional inning of work before they are inevitably going to be called upon in game 4. No matter how well CC does.

Brock Holt is a postseason stud

Even if he does nothing else, Brock Holt and his weird dance have made history. Somehow, in the history of baseball, Holt became the first player to ever hit for the cycle in a postseason game. Let that sink in for a moment. Brock. Holt. THAT guy is the only player in the history of the game. More than 100 years of history and this guy is the first person to ever do it.

I love this team and I love this game. Go Sox!

Kevin is an actor, director, playwright, and musician who works in tech. He is die hard New England sports and an avid Tottenham supporter. His qualifications include scoring 1 point in his elementary school basketball career, 4 years of mixed little league results, and breaking his arm with a skip-it days before pre-season workouts started for Freshman football.

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