When the schedules came out for 2018 Major League Baseball season, many believed the final series of the regular season between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees would be for all the marbles.
Due to the Red Sox’s historic season, though, the series effectively was rendered meaningless.
New York trashed Boston 11-6 in Game 1 on Friday night at Fenway Park, blasting four home runs off six Sox pitchers to clinch home-field advantage in the American League Wild Card Game.
The Yankees will play the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday in the Wild Card Game, with the winner heading to Fenway Park to meet the Red Sox in the American League Division Series.
There wasn’t a lot to be learned from what was more or less a glorified spring training game Friday, but Red Sox manager Alex Cora did find a couple of bright spots in his offense’s performance against the staff they might be seeing in the first round of the playoffs.
“I love the way we fought, you know, got to (Dellin) Betances, got to (Zach) Britton,” Cora said, as seen on NESN’s postgame coverage. “You know, we had the big inning against (J.A.) Happ, so, I mean, it is where we at right now, so it’s no big deal.”
Yankees starter J.A. Happ has been very effective against Boston this season, and he was good Friday night. The left-hander cruised through the first five innings before giving up a four-spot in the sixth, courtesy of a Steve Pearce grand slam.
Happ entered the game with a 0.54 ERA in three starts against Boston this season, and Cora was moderately pleased that his team was able to get to the left-hander knowing Happ likely would start Game 1 or 2 of the ALDS.
“It’s always good, he still went six innings and was in control,” Cora said. “I actually felt that the last game in New York we made him work harder, we got that pitch count up very quick. Today he had a good changeup going, but that’s the thing with us, if we put traffic out there we are one swing away from coming back into the game.”
The Red Sox were down 8-0 after 3 1/2 innings, but they battled back and had the bases loaded in the ninth with the potential tying run on deck. Pearce grounded out to end the game, but Cora noted he has all the confidence in the world in his offense, no matter who they play.
“I’d rather we score four, they don’t score and we move on. But one thing’s for sure, offensively we feel that we can matchup with anybody.”
Here are more notes from Red Sox-Yankees:
— Mookie Betts has been just fine since missing a few games due to left side soreness. The Red Sox star went 1-for-3 with two walks Friday night and now is 13 for his last 21 with eight RBIs and eight extra-base hits. Betts also scored his 128th run of the season in Game 1 against the Yankees, which is the most for a Red Sox player since Wade Boggs in 1988.
— In what might be his last outing of the season, Drew Pomeranz gave up two runs in 2 1/3 innings.
— Pearce launched the Red Sox’s 10th grand slam of the season Friday night, tying a franchise record. Boston did not hit a grand slam in 2017.