NEW YORK – It can never be easy in New York, and it wasn’t for the Red Sox in the ninth inning.
But in the end, the Red Sox beat the Yankees 4-3 in Game 4 of the ALDS, advancing to their first American League Championship Series since 2013.
Craig Kimbrel somehow, someway, got the save, nearly squandering a three-run lead as part of a wild ninth inning.
Steve Pearce held his foot on the bag on a close play at first to seal the game after Gleyber Torres hit a slow chopper to third with two outs and the tying run on second. The throw from Eduardo Nunez was nearly off the mark, but was saved by Pearce, who sprawled to the ground to make the catch.
Two runs had come around to score in the inning, one on a hit batsman and the second on a warning-track sacrifice fly by Gary Sanchez.
Kimbrel walked two men, allowed one hit, and struck out one.
The Red Sox got to C.C. Sabathia early, knocking him out of the game after a three-run third inning. The big lefty gave up five hits, walked two batters, and struck out one.
Sabathia hit Andrew Benintendi to start the third and J.D. Martinez drove him in on a sacrifice fly. Two more runs came around to score on a two-out double by Ian Kinsler and a RBI single by Eduardo Nunez.
Christian Vazquez hit a solo home run off Zach Britton in the fourth, a 338-foot Yankee Stadium special to right field. It was the first home run by Vazquez since June.
Rick Porcello cruised through five innings, allowing one run on four hits. The lone run came around to score on a sacrifice fly by Brett Gardner in the fifth.
After Porcello battled his way out of the fifth inning by retiring Aaron Hicks on a nine-pitch at-bat, Alex Cora opted to go to his much-maligned bullpen for the third time through the order.
The move worked, as the Red Sox successfully bridged the gap to Kimbrel with no problems.
Matt Barnes retired Aaron Judge, Didi Gregorious, and Giancarlo Stanton in order in the sixth.
Ryan Brasier tossed a 1-2-3 seventh inning.
With an opportunity to go for the jugular, Cora called on Chris Sale on three days rest for the eighth inning. Sale retired the side in order on 13 pitches.
Now, instead of facing a Game 5 with uncertainty regarding Sale’s availability after pitching in the Bronx, the Red Sox can turn their attention to Game 1 of the ALCS.
The defending World Series champion Houston Astros come to Fenway Park Saturday night.