Boston topples Yankees in AL Wild Card

Boston took the early lead, relied on some dominant pitching and tacked on a key defensive play to defeat New York 6-2 in their AL Wild Card round Tuesday. The Red Sox now face the AL East champion Toronto in the divisional round.



October 6, 2021 - 9:56 AM

Alex Verdugo of the Boston Red Sox celebrates his RBI double against the New York Yankees during the sixth inning of the American League Wild Card game Tuesday. Photo by Maddie Meyer / Getty Images / TNS

BOSTON (AP) — As the ball sailed over the center field fence, landing 427 feet from the plate in a horde of happy Red Sox fans, Xander Bogaerts turned to the Boston dugout to flex his muscles before resuming his home run trot.

This is the matchup the Yankees wanted.

And the Red Sox were ready.

Bogaerts and Kyle Schwarber homered off Yankees ace Gerrit Cole, and Nathan Eovaldi took a shutout into the sixth inning in the AL wild-card game to help the Red Sox beat New York 6-2 on Tuesday night.

Bogaerts also cut down Aaron Judge at the plate in the sixth as Boston advanced to the best-of-five AL Division Series against the Rays.

Game 1 Thursday night in St. Petersburg, Florida.

“Now we go to the next one, and we’ve just got to be ready to face a great baseball team,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “Coming into the season, everybody talked about them being the best team in the big leagues, and we have a huge challenge. But we’re ready for it.”

The Yankees, who lead the majors with 27 World Series championships, have not won it all since 2009. After angling for a matchup with the Red Sox in a potential tiebreaker, the Yankees wound up in Boston for the wild-card game instead.

And the Red Sox beat them in the postseason for the third straight try.

“Guys are crushed,” New York manager Aaron Boone said. “The ending is really cruel. But there’s nothing better than competing for something meaningful.”

A year after baseball took its postseason into neutral site bubbles to protect against the pandemic, a sellout crowd of 38,324 — the biggest at Fenway Park since the 2018 World Series — filled the old yard to rekindle one of the sport’s most passionate rivalries. Enough Yankee fans were among them to fuel a raucous back-and-forth of insulting chants.

“The Bogaerts homer in the first inning — I mean, talk about a pop. And, you know, the crowd went nuts, and you feed off that energy,” Schwarber said. “You thrive for that, and Red Sox nation brought it tonight. We needed it, and you can’t say enough about the crowd.”

It was the fifth playoff matchup between the longtime foes, with Boston taking a 3-2 edge. That doesn’t count the 1978 AL East tiebreaker — technically regular season Game No. 163 — that the Yankees won thanks to Bucky Dent’s homer into the net above the Green Monster.

Boone was a New York third baseman when added to the heartbreak with his 11th-inning walk-off homer in Game 7 of the 2003 AL Championship Series.

The Red Sox haven’t lost to them since.