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The Red Sox Are Moving On To The American League Championship Series After Eliminating The Yankees From The Postseason In Four Games

Divisional Round - Boston Red Sox v New York Yankees - Game Four

You could see this series coming from a mile away. It was an arms race several years in the making. A storm was brewing. Over the past five years, the Red Sox and Yankees have been stockpiling talent via the MLB draft, international free agent signings, MLB free agent signings, high profile trades, low profile trades — you name it. The cores of both teams were in place by 2017, but they were still missing something.

The build to get to this point may have started several years ago, but the “rivalry” had been dormant since the mid-2000’s. After the rivalry peaked in 2004, the Red Sox won another World Series in 2007, the Yankees claimed ring 27 in 2009, and the Red Sox added another World Series trophy to the case in 2013. The storyline of the Red Sox being historical losers was no more, and the two franchises went several years without simultaneously being really good. That was, until last year. But after both teams fell short of their ultimate goal, the Red Sox and Yankees stockpiled even more talent.

It wasn’t until this past December when the Yankees pulled the trigger on a deal that would send the reigning National League MVP, Giancarlo Stanton, to the Bronx that things started to heat back up again. The team that hit 241 home runs in 2017 had added the player who hit 59 home runs in 2017. Both marks led the majors. The rich get richer.

That’s one of the storylines that got lost in the shuffle this year because of the way the standings ended up panning out. Sure, the Red Sox had the larger payroll, but the Yankees had made it further in the postseason last year, and then they added the National League MVP to their roster. That’s an old school Yankee move. At the time, Stanton was perceived to be the biggest offseason prize on the market, whether it be via trade or free agency.

The Red Sox were in the market for a power bat after hitting the fewest home runs in the American League last year, and the Yankees, who hit more home runs than anybody, added the player who hit more home runs than anybody. Dave Dombrowski later revealed that he never had interest in trading for Stanton. He had eyes on somebody else. That somebody, as you now know, was JD Martinez. It went down to the wire, but the Red Sox got their man, and that man matched Manny Ramirez’s 2004 season, hitting 43 home runs and drove in 130 runs in his debut season in Boston.

The addition of Martinez changed everything, and the guys in that Red Sox clubhouse will be the first to tell you that. Of course, his offensive production changed the entire dynamic of the lineup, but he became a fountain of knowledge for the young Red Sox hitters who had their supply cut off when David Ortiz retired following the 2016 season. Martinez became that guy, and the Red Sox offense exploded from start to finish, which led to a franchise record 108-win season, a third straight division title, and the best record in baseball.

The Red Sox put the Yankees and the division race to bed after a four-game sweep at Fenway Park in August, so we’ve just had to sit around and wait for the season to end before we got to witness the inevitable — Red Sox-Yankees in the postseason for the first time since 2004. But when the calendar changed to October, it was time. I sat in Yankee Stadium during the American League Wild Card game, listening to the deafening chants of, “We want Boston!” You sure about that?

The Red Sox held a 2-1 series lead with a chance to put this thing to bed just 24 hours after blowing the Yankees’ doors off, handing them their worst playoff loss in their franchise’s history. The ballpark felt lifeless in the early going. It was nothing like the environment I had witnessed in the Wild Card game. Nothing like the atmosphere I witnessed for regular season games this year, either. That wouldn’t last, though.

The silence in the air was a direct result of the Red Sox jumping out to a quick 4-0 lead by the fourth inning. Ian Kinsler and Eduardo Nunez both had RBI base knocks, and Christian Vazquez hit a dinky Yankee Stadium home run in the first row out in right field. It was off Zach Britton, too. Remember when the Yankees acquired him, and he said he wanted to help the Yankees catch the Red Sox? That was fun.

Rick Porcello was everything that the Red Sox needed him to be. After two straight years of watching every Red Sox starter piss down their leg on the mound, Boston has gotten some pretty great starts from Chris Sale, Nathan Eovaldi and now Rick Porcello, who went five innings and held the Yankees to one run on four hits. I would’ve sent him out there for the sixth, but I should also know better than to ever question Alex Cora. Matt Barnes and Ryan Brasier both turned in scoreless innings of work to get the Red Sox to the eighth inning with a 4-1 lead.

I remember sitting there, wondering who Cora would summon for the eighth inning. Already used Brasier. Already used Barnes. Joe Kelly? Maybe. Brandon Workman? Eh. Wait, who’s that throwing out there? Oh my God. That’s Chris fucking Sale. Cora and the Red Sox went for the jugular. No mercy. All this talk about how the Red Sox bullpen sucks and they can’t get the job done in the late innings. Well, nobody considered that Chris Sale could be the fucking eighth inning guy in an elimination game for their opponent. GAME-CHANGER.

Silence fell over Yankee Stadium, as Sale got all three batters he faced in order, striking out Aaron Hicks on three pitchers to conclude the inning. Brilliant. A stress-free eighth inning to build the bridge to Craig Kimbrel in the ninth. Three outs to go and your closer ready to roll. Yeah, I didn’t think it would be that easy. I really didn’t. The Yankees are like Michael Myers. Yeah, he looks dead, but you know this movie ends with a jump scare because he ain’t fuckin’ dead yet, buddy.

Yankee Stadium was ROCKING in the ninth inning, as Kimbrel struggled to find the strike zone. It was the loudest I had ever heard the place. I could feel my chest tightening. My heart was beating faster than that one time I had sex. It was honestly a terrifying experience. A glorified panic attack. The inning started with a walk to Aaron Judge, a base hit by Didi Gregorious, a Giancarlo Stanton strikeout (obviously), another walk to Luke Voit, Neil Walker hit by a pitch to drive in a run, Gary Sanchez sac fly that looked like it could’ve been a walk-off grand slam, and then THANK FUCKING GOD, Gleyber Torres grounded out in what seemed like a six and a half hour long ninth inning.

I don’t know how they survived that. I really don’t. Before 2004, that ninth inning is the most predictable loss ever. Of course the pre-2004 Red Sox lose that game. Historic season, everything going Boston’s way, one of the best closers in the game on the mound, three-run lead, Yankee Stadium, you KNOW the Red Sox are blowing that and then losing Game 5. That’s just what they did before 2004. But, unfortunately for the Yankees, 2004 happened, dog. So did 2007 and 2013. It’s a new chapter of the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry. And in this chapter, the Red Sox are the top dogs.

The Yankees have now lost seven of their last eight games against the Red Sox in the postseason, and because of that, Boston is moving on to their first American League Championship Series since 2013 where they’ll meet the Houston Astros. The same Houston Astros who dismissed the Red Sox in four games last October, en route to a World Series title. These are the two best teams in the American League. Check that — these are the two best teams in baseball. Write this down — the team that wins this series wins the World Series. See you Saturday.

Final score: Red Sox 4, Yankees 3 — Red Sox win ALDS, 3-1.

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