The Tampa Bay Rays quickly found out who their ALDS opponent was as the Boston Red Sox made light work of the New York Yankees and starter Gerrit Cole, winning 6-2 in the American League Wild Card Game on Tuesday night.
Cole had his shortest postseason outing by a wide margin, giving up three earned runs, striking out three and walking two over 2+ innings of work and 50 pitches.
Shortstop Xander Bogaerts, who came into the game in an offensive slump, got the scoring started in the first inning with a two-run shot to center field.
In the third, postseason demons of seasons past came to haunt Cole as Kyle Schwarber launched a 435-foot solo home run off the right-hander.
It was Schwarber’s second home run off Cole in a Wild Card Game, the first coming with the Cubs in 2015 against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
This winner-take-all game between Boston and New York was 17 years in the making, the previous being Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS, where the Red Sox completed a reverse sweep on their way to winning the World Series for the first time in 86 years.
Funny enough, Boston once again deflated New York just like they did back in 2004, controlling the game from start to finish behind a stellar pitching performance from Nathan Eovaldi.
The former Ray gave up one earned run over 5 1/3 innings of work, tying a franchise record for strikeouts in a winner-take-all game with eight. At one point, Eovaldi retired 11 straight Yankee batters and was taken out after just 71 pitches.
His stats the third time through the order were cause for the quick leash from manager Alex Cora, but the bullpen came up big, along with help from the Green Monster and some fantastic defensive plays.
Aaron Judge was gunned down at the plate, trying to score from first off a long Giancarlo Stanton single off the monster in the sixth inning, New York’s best offensive chance of the game without a doubt.
Now, the Yankees have been sent home packing for the offseason and Boston heads to St. Pete to face the Rays, the No. 1 seed in the American League.
Game 1 of the ALDS between Boston and Tampa Bay begins at 8:07 PM on Thursday, October 7.