The ball flew over the center-field fence, amid a group of ecstatic Boston fans. Xander Bogaerts turned to look into the Red Sox cave and showed his biceps, before resuming his trot to home plate.
This was the game the Yankees wanted. And the Red Sox were ready
Bogaerts and Kyle Schwarber homered off ace Gerrit Cole as the Boston Red Sox beat the New York Yankees 6-2 in the American League wild card game on Tuesday night.
Nathan Eovaldi allowed no run until the sixth inning. And when the game was still tight, Bogaerts also delivered a perfect shot to retire Aaron Judge at the plate.
Thus, the Red Sox qualified for the American League division series, where they will face the Tampa Bay Rays in a maximum of five games, the first of which is scheduled for Thursday in St. Petersburg, Florida.
“Now we go to what follows, and we will be ready to face a great team,” said Alex Cora, the Puerto Rican manager of the Red Sox. “At the beginning of the season, everyone was talking about how they are the best team in the Major Leagues and that we have a great challenge, but we are ready.”
With Bucky Dent as the spectator-charm and Boone in the cave for the third straight time in the playoffs, the Yankees were shipwrecked against their staunch rivals.
Paradoxically, New York aspired to a playoff game against the Red Sox. Instead, he faced them in the wild card game.
And the result was a bitter defeat.
“The boys are devastated,” acknowledged manager Aaron Boone. “The ending was really cruel, but there is nothing better than competing for something meaningful.”
Boston ended Cole’s work in the third inning and beat New York in the playoffs for the close consecutive time.
The Yankees, who lead the majors with 27 World Series titles in history, have not conquered it since 2009.
A year after the Major Leagues had no choice but to hold the postseason in bubbles in neutral venues as a measure of protection against the pandemic, 38,324 spectators gathered at Fenway Park, the highest number in the year within this venue.
And in one of the most passionate rivalries in American sports, there were enough Yankees fans in the stands for a chanting match to erupt as well – some insulting.
It was the fifth playoff game between these opponents. Boston took a 3-2 lead.
That does not count the American League East playoff game, played in 1978. That meeting was technically the 163rd of the regular season for both teams, and the Yankees won it thanks to Dent’s home run over the Green Monster.
Boone, a former infielder and current Yankees manager, had also broken the hearts of Boston fans, with a home run in the 11th inning that ended Game 7 of the 2003 Championship Series.
But the Red Sox have not fallen to their bitter opponents since.
The following year they took revenge, coming back from a three-game Championship Series deficit. They thus eliminated the Yankees, before winning the World Series, conjuring an 86-year-old curse.
They won the Fall Classic again in 2007, 2013 and 18, when they fired the Yankees in the divisional round.
Now, they headed for the win from the first inning, with a ball that landed in the center field bleachers.
That hit from Dent sent the ball just over the famed left-field wall, located 310 feet from home plate. Instead, Bogaerts’ catapulted the spherical 427 feet, throughout the central forest.
Cole was retired after accepting Schwarber’s solo homer in the third inning and allowing two other opponents to reach base with no out. In total, he allowed three runs and four hits in just over two innings, during which he walked away a pair and struck out three.
For the Yankees, Venezuelans Gleyber Torres 4-0, Rougned Odor 2-0. Colombian Gio Urshela 3-1. The Dominican Gary Sánchez 1-0.
For the Red Sox, Puerto Ricans Kiké Hernández 3-1 with a run scored, Christian Vázquez 1-0. Rafael Devers 2-0 with a run scored. Mexican Alex Verdugo 4-2 with three RBIs. AP (HN)