Alex Cora is looking like a genius right now.
After a poor showing in Game 2 that evened Boston’s American League Division Series tilt with the New York Yankees at one, the Red Sox manager decided to shake things up a little bit. He named Nathan Eovaldi the Game 3 starter instead of Rick Porcello, had Brock Holt take over for Ian Kinsler, Rafael Devers for Eduardo Nunez and Christian Vazquez for Sandy Leon.
All four played big roles in the Red Sox’s 16-1 throttling of the Yankees at Yankee Stadium as they grabbed the series by the horns.
Holt arguably was the most glaring omission from the lineup the first two games, but he made his presence known in a big way in Game 3. He was swinging a hot bat in September, and it doesn’t appear the lack of playing time cooled him off. He hit for the first cycle in MLB postseason history, going 4-for-6 with five RBIs and three runs scored.
Eovaldi made his first career postseason start, and the moment wasn’t too big for him. Even when the game was in the balance and the Yankee Stadium crowd was in the game, the hard-throwing right-hander was poised and kept potential threats to a minimum. In the 28-year-old’s seven innings of work, he allowed one run on five hits while striking out five and issuing zero walks.
Devers led off the second with a single, ultimately scoring the first run of the game. He also drove in the game’s third run with a groundout to second in the third inning. The 21-year-old’s defense is his biggest concern, but he was more than fine in the field.
Entering the game, Devers and Holt were a combined 1-for-27 with 11 strikeouts in their careers against Yankees starter Luis Severino. But Cora made it clear he wasn’t dwelling on the numbers and the move paid off.
Behind the plate, Vazquez worked well with Eovaldi. And though offensive woes have been persistent for him, that hardly was a worry Monday. He went 2-for-6 with an RBI single and a run scored.
The postseason is a time where you pull out all the stops to earn wins. The Sox skipper proved he was willing to do that in order to take control of the series and put the Yankees’ backs against the wall.
Suffice to say that gamble couldn’t have worked out better.
Here are some other notes from Red Sox-Yankees Game 3:
— Andrew Benintendi continues to be unkind to the Yankees.
The Sox left fielder is renowned as a Yankee killer, and he reiterated that in Monday’s game. The 24-year-old went 2-for-3 with three RBIs, two runs scored and two walks.
With the game still somewhat in the balance, Benintendi delivered what felt like the crushing blow in the fourth inning. With the bases loaded and no outs, he lined a double down the right field line to clear the bases, extending the 4-0 advantage to 7-0.
Though the Red Sox went on to add nine more runs, it was in that moment that the Yankee Stadium fans had their energy sucked from them.
— It’s tough to gripe about umpiring in a blowout win, but Angel Hernandez was remarkably bad.
The oft-maligned umpire had four of his calls at first base reviewed, with three getting overturned. It got to the point where it was comical and almost felt like Hernandez was flipping a coin.
So why should there be some concern? Well, he’s scheduled to be the home plate umpire in Tuesday’s Game 4.
— The Red Sox’s victory was the second-most convincing postseason win in team history, a still distant second to the 1999 ALDS Game 4 win over the Cleveland Indians in Boston scored 23 runs. It was, however, the most wins for the Red Sox in a road postseason contest, and the worst postseason loss for the Yankees.
Thumbnail photo via Adam Hunger/USA TODAY Sports Images