Brock Holt had one thing in mind: He was swinging for the fences.
After all, the game was decided long ago. And everything else went Boston’s way all night, so why not this?
The part-time utilityman put the finishing touch on a Red Sox blowout, becoming the first player to hit for the cycle in a postseason game as Boston routed the New York Yankees 16-1 on Monday to seize a 2-1 lead in their best-of-five AL Division Series.
“This one I’ll remember for a long time,” said Holt, unaware of his achievement until told by a television reporter right after the final out. “Obviously, you don’t go into the game expecting to make history or do anything like that, let alone score 16 runs.”
Andrew Benintendi lined a three-run double and Holt tripled home two more in a seven-run fourth inning that quickly turned the latest playoff matchup between these longtime rivals into a laugher. Handed a big early lead, Nathan Eovaldi shut down his former team during New York’s most lopsided defeat in 396 postseason games.
“An embarrassing day,” shortstop Didi Gregorius said.
Game 4 is Tuesday night in the Bronx, where the 108-win Red Sox can put away the wild-card Yankees for good and advance to the AL Championship Series against Houston. Rick Porcello is scheduled to pitch against New York lefty CC Sabathia.
Boston battered an ineffective Luis Severino and silenced a charged-up Yankee Stadium crowd that emptied out fast on a night when Red Sox rookie manager Alex Cora made all the right moves.
“You get a little antsy when a position player is on the mound. I told everyone, ’Get me up. I need a home run for a cycle,’” Holt said. “I scooted up in the box a little bit, and I was going to be swinging at anything and try to hook anything. Obviously, you don’t expect to hit a home run, but I was trying to. I was trying to hit a home run. That’s probably the first time I’ve ever tried to do that. I rounded the bases, and seeing everyone going nuts in the dugout was a pretty cool moment for me.”
His teammates, too.
“He wasn’t shy about it,” Benintendi said. “Everybody was rooting for him.”
Boosted by noisy fans in their homer-friendly ballpark, the Yankees entered 7-0 at home the past two postseasons — against out-of-division opponents. But the Red Sox, frequent visitors who clinched the AL East crown at Yankee Stadium just 2½ weeks ago, were hardly intimidated.
“I think from pitch 1, we let them know that we were here,” Cora said.
Mookie Betts, in fact, hit a 405-foot flyout to the center-field warning track to begin the game.
Making his first playoff start this year, Holt opened the fourth with a single off Severino and capped the 26-minute outburst with a triple to right field. The 2015 All-Star also doubled home a run in the eighth and finished with five RBIs.
Holt also hit for the cycle against Atlanta on June 6, 2015.
“He’s been swinging the bat well for a while now,” Cora said. “We felt the matchup was good for him.”
Every starter had at least one hit for the Red Sox, who piled up 18 in all. The only time they scored more runs in the postseason was a 23-7 win over Cleveland in 1999.
Eovaldi pitched for the Yankees from 2015-16 before injuring his elbow, which required a second Tommy John surgery. Boston acquired him from Tampa Bay in July and the hard-throwing righty compiled a 1.93 ERA in four starts against New York this season — three with the Red Sox.
Bumped up a day in front of Porcello, he delivered a gem in his first postseason appearance. Eovaldi allowed one run and five hits in seven innings, throwing 72 of 97 pitches for strikes.
“I was just trying to use their aggressiveness against them and try and get some quick outs,” Eovaldi said. “It was a special moment for me. I don’t think it’s really quite settled in yet.”
Going with Eovaldi was one of several choices that paid off for Cora.
Looking to play left-handed hitters against Severino, the first-year skipper inserted Holt at second base and Rafael Devers at third. Christian Vazquez started at catcher over Sandy Leon.
Devers singled twice, stole a base, scored two runs and knocked in another. Vazquez’s infield single off Severino’s glove drove in the first run.
Benintendi, already a Yankees nemesis, was on base four times and scored twice. Betts also scored two runs and drove in two.
“It just kind of shows you what kind of team we have and that we could explode at any minute,” Betts said.
TBS reported Severino began warming up only 10 minutes before the game, and he certainly looked out of sorts from the start in misty weather. He left with the bases loaded and nobody out in the fourth and was charged with six runs and seven hits.
“He got his normal pitches routine,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “It wasn’t an issue.”
The only other position player to pitch in a postseason game was Toronto infielder Cliff Pennington against Kansas City in the 2015 AL Championship Series.
IF AT FIRST
There were four replay challenges in the first four innings — all involving calls by first base umpire Angel Hernandez. Three were overturned.
Red Sox: 1B Mitch Moreland sat out after leaving Game 2 when he hurt his right hamstring running the bases. “Mitch is available, but he’s not 100 percent,” Cora said. Steve Pearce played first and had an RBI single in the fourth.
Yankees: CF Aaron Hicks remained out of the lineup after missing Game 2 with tightness in his right hamstring, which forced him from the series opener Friday. Boone said Hicks was doing “significantly better,” and sitting him was a much more difficult decision than it was Saturday. Brett Gardner was back in center, but Boone said he wouldn’t hesitate to use Hicks in any role off the bench.
Red Sox: Porcello (17-7, 4.28 ERA) got two late outs in relief during the series opener last Friday, so his start was pushed back a day to Game 4. The 2016 AL Cy Young Award winner, who grew up a Mets fan in nearby New Jersey, was 2-0 with a 2.31 ERA in three starts against the Yankees this year — including a one-hitter on just 86 pitches Aug. 3 at Fenway Park. He is 0-3 with a 5.33 ERA in 12 career postseason outings, including four starts.
Yankees: The 38-year-old Sabathia (9-7, 3.65) will be on 11 days’ rest when he makes his 23rd postseason start. The big lefty was ejected from his last regular-season outing for hitting Tampa Bay catcher Jesus Sucre with a pitch during a testy game between division rivals on Sept. 27. Sabathia appealed a five-game suspension from Major League Baseball that would not take effect until next season. He said Monday he definitely wants to play in 2019 — even if it’s not for the Yankees.
Yankees SP Luis Severino Recommended to Have Tommy John Surgery
The New York Yankees were hit with a devastating blow on Tuesday, as two-time All-Star Luis Severino received terrible news.
Severino was dealing with forearm tightness that forced the Yankees to shut him down and get further tests.
Those tests confirmed the worst fear for Yankees fans, as it was recommended that Severino gets Tommy John surgery.
This is an awful hit to a Yankees team that has been struggling to get top flight starting pitching to pair with their talented roster for years now.
Severino was the team’s lone ace for 2017 and 2018, with him being an All-Star each season.
Following a 2018 campaign that saw Severino pitch to a 3.39 ERA with 220 strikeouts, the Yankees signed him to a four-year extension. Since then he has made three regular season starts.
Getting Tommy John surgery at the start of Spring Training already puts an end to his 2020 season and may put 2021 in question as well.
Typically rehab time for the injury is anywhere from 12 to 15 months, with strict inning limits usually being placed on a starter in their first season back from the surgery.
This means that the Yankees won’t get to see Severino and Gerrit Cole full force atop their rotation until 2022 at best.
New York still has the talent to win it all this year, but losing Severino once again puts their rotation depth into question.
New York Yankees SP Luis Severino Shut Down with Forearm Tightness
Prior to the 2019 season, it looked like the New York Yankees had their ace of the future in Luis Severino.
Severino was coming off two-straight All-Star seasons, as he pitched to sub-3.50 ERA in both those campaigns.
Then came the 2019 season, in which Severino made just three regular season starts due to various injuries.
Now as Spring Training has just gotten under way, Severino once again finds himself sidelined due to an injury.
The Yankees were really counting on Severino to headline the front of their rotation along with top free agent acquisition Gerrit Cole.
Now that all appears to be in doubt, as Aaron Boone explained that this injury is nothing new for the 26-year-old flamethrower.
The Yankees are already going to be without James Paxton until at least June due to shoulder soreness. Taking another hit with Severino is going to be tough for New York to overcome at the start of the season.
All of this proves just how important the acquisition of Cole really was, as their rotation would be in dire straights without him.
Milwaukee Brewers Sign Utilityman Brock Holt
It may have taken until Spring Training, but Brock Holt finally has a new home for the 2020 season.
The former Boston Red Sox utilityman is leaving the American League altogether and will instead sign with the Milwaukee Brewers.
Holt’s versatility should prove to be even more valuable with Milwaukee than it even was for the Red Sox, as his ability to play all over the diamond is a big boost in the National League.
Last season, Holt played every position for the Red Sox except catcher and center field, all while producing a quality season with his bat.
Holt is a career .271 hitter, with all the tools to help a team win. He was an All-Star back in 2015 and was part of the Red Sox team that won the World Series in 2018.
Now Holt will join the Brewers where he will try to help them make the postseason for three consecutive years. It would be the first time in franchise history that they would have accomplished that feat.
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