ALDS: Sanchez, Judge power Yankees past Red Sox 6-2 to even series
Aaron Judge helped chase David Price early by hitting a home run to a part of Fenway Park where balls rarely travel.
Gary Sanchez did him one better.
The Yankees catcher, who tested his manager’s confidence with a sub-.200 batting average and poor defense for most of the season, hit two homers, the second a 479-foot shot clear out of the ballpark that sent New York to a 6-2 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Saturday night and tied their AL Division Series at one game apiece.
“Just a monster night,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “You know he’s capable of that. We all know he’s capable of that. That’s kind of what we’ve been waiting for to some degree, where he can take over a game on offense.”
One night after Chris Sale earned his first career playoff victory, Price fell to 0-9 in 10 postseason starts and was booed off the field after five outs by a Fenway crowd hoping to see the Red Sox protect the home-field advantage they earned with an AL East title and franchise-record 108 regular-season wins.
Instead, Masahiro Tanaka helped the wild-card Yankees claim the first victory by a road team in a Division Series game this year and gave them a chance to advance to the AL Championship Series with a pair of wins at home, where they are 7-0 over the past two postseasons.
Games 3 and 4 are at Yankee Stadium on Monday and Tuesday nights, with Game 5 back in Boston on Thursday, if necessary.
“We can’t wait,” Judge said. “We know our fans are waiting for us to come back home, especially with the series tied 1-1.”
Judge homered for the third straight playoff game, a 445-foot shot that landed in the back row of seats above the Green Monster, high above the 379-foot marker and about 10 feet to the left of the pole flying an American flag blowing straight out.
It was the longest home run of the postseason — for about five innings.
That’s when Sanchez aimed one in the same direction, sending it out of the park and onto Lansdowne Street. A few feet away, a plaque commemorates the six home runs in the 106-year history of Fenway Park that have cleared the back wall to the other side of the flagpole.
“Everybody knows that Judge has way more power than me,” said Sanchez, who joined Yogi Berra as the only catchers in Yankees history with multihomer postseason games. “But a homer is a homer. And if we have the opportunity to score runs like that, you know, even if it’s 300 feet, I’ll take it.”
Sanchez also had a solo shot in the second inning to give New York a 2-0 lead. Price then walked back-to-back batters with two outs and gave up Andrew McCutchen’s RBI single on what could be his last pitch in a Red Sox uniform.
The 2012 AL Cy Young Award winner — and two-time runner-up for the award — Price signed a seven-year, $217 million deal to come to Boston as a free agent before the 2016 season and has pitched like an ace at times in the regular season. But his postseason struggles have caused Red Sox fans to sour on him, and vice versa; he can opt out of his contract after the season, and if he can find something close to the four years and $124 million he is owed, he might just take it.
In all, Price was charged with three runs on three hits and two walks in 1 2/3 innings — the shortest playoff start of his career, and tied with Roger Clemens for the shortest in Red Sox postseason history. It was the first time in 299 regular-season and postseason starts that Price failed to strike out a batter.
“I just want to win. That’s it,” Price said. “My main goal is to win in the playoffs, to win a World Series. And whatever I need to do to help us do that, I’m fine with. But I know I’m more than capable of winning games as a starter in October. That’s what I look forward to doing.”
Tanaka allowed just three hits, including Xander Bogaerts’ solo homer, before leaving after five innings with a 3-1 lead. He struck out four and walked one.
Red Sox reliever Ryan Brasier had words with Sanchez in the fifth, when the Yankees catcher stepped out of the box to think about the 1-2 count against him. Brasier motioned impatiently for Sanchez to get back in the box , and told him so in some impolite terms.
Sanchez struck out on the next pitch, a 97 mph fastball. But when he came up again in the seventh, he broke the game open. Sanchez had three multihomer games in the regular season, none after May 19.
“Not much to talk about,” Brasier said plainly. “He stepped out three pitches in a row after an 0-2 count, and I felt like it was time to throw the pitch. He just kept stepping out. I was ready to go. That’s all it was.”
The teams have Sunday off before resuming the series in New York on Monday night. Luis Severino is scheduled to pitch for the Yankees against Rick Porcello or Nathan Eovaldi.
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