The Yankees didn’t win Game 1, but they did make it a 5–4 final after falling behind 5–0 at Fenway Park on Friday night.
Both teams can score runs quickly but New York has the pitching depth. After knocking out Chris Sale and nearly coming back against a bullpen that used five guys, including Rick Porcello, last night, the Yankees are in line to do some damage tonight.
Boston will start David Price. He had a great season, his best so far with the Red Sox, but he’s also had little playoff success in this role and been roughed up in his career against the Yankees.
As a rookie with Tampa Bay in 2008, Price allowed one earned run in five-and-two-thirds innings as a reliever in the postseason. Last year, as a reliever against Houston in the ALDS, Price threw six-and-two-thirds innings of shutout ball.
In between 2008 and 2018, however, Price started nine playoff games and went 1–8, though he wasn’t quite as bad as that sounds. He did go into the seventh inning in eight of the ten and into the sixth inning in a ninth. Just about every time, though, one bad inning, often late, led to a loss.
Alex Cora’s most important job tonight is to make sure he pulls Price before he runs into trouble and not during, or even after. But what if Price finds trouble early? And whenever he does leave the game, who does Boston throw?
Price has faced New York forty-two times in his career, more than any other opponent in the Major Leagues, and the Yankees have an average OPS+ of 134 against him. This season, Price went 0–3 in four starts against New York with a double-digit ERA.
Last night, Ryan Brasier and Brandon Workman patched together some outs and Matt Barnes escaped a bases-loaded, no out jam in the seventh. It felt like a patchwork effort that just barely worked.
Don’t count on Price getting through six innings tonight. So who is going to bridge the rather large gap between he and Kimbrel? It could be Eduardo Rodriguez; it could be Nathan Eovaldi; but remember, Porcello threw last night and somebody has to be ready to start Game 3. In all likelihood, it’s going to be more of the same: some mishmash of Workman, Brasier, Barnes and maybe even a guy like Heath Hembree, or even Joe Kelly.
That’s a situation I’m eager to fade. Meanwhile, Masahiro Tanaka has proven to be a capable postseason starter and New York’s bullpen is rock-solid behind him. I’d make New York the favorite tonight.
Play: New York +105