Boston Red Sox

Oct 8, 2018; Bronx, NY: Boston Red Sox second baseman Brock Holt celebrates hitting a two-run home run in front of New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez during the ninth inning in game three of the 2018 ALDS playoff baseball series at Yankee Stadium. Holt became the first player in postseason history to hit for the cycle. (Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports)

Oct 8, 2018; Bronx, NY: Boston Red Sox second baseman Brock Holt celebrates hitting a two-run home run in front of New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez during the ninth inning in game three of the 2018 ALDS playoff baseball series at Yankee Stadium. Holt became the first player in postseason history to hit for the cycle. (Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports)

By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

The Boston Red Sox just handed the New York Yankees one of their most embarrassing postseason losses in franchise history. They also drew some criticism for breaking some of the game’s many “unwritten rules” in the process. So should the Sox expect retaliation from the Yankees in Game 4 on Tuesday?

For the Yankees’ sake, hopefully the answer is no. It certainly wouldn’t be smart for Yankees starter C.C. Sabathia to plunk a guy on purpose and risk getting ejected. If the benches cleared, it would be fantastic entertainment – but not wise for the Yanks to do anything drastic or unnecessary when they have their season on the line.

By the same token, the Yankees got emasculated on their home field on Monday night. They’ll need to do something to show some pride and keep the series alive, if only from a mental standpoint. Sabathia is still among the most competitive pitchers in the game. He even got offended when the Red Sox bunted at him to test his fielding capabilities in a 2017 game. So it shouldn’t shock anyone that he might be miffed by some of the things the Red Sox did in Game 3.

If anyone on the Red Sox gets hit (or even brushed back) in Game 4, it would be Andrew Benintendi or Brock Holt. The former delivered the hit that broke Game 3 open in the fourth inning, when he blasted a bases-clearing double to make it 7-0 Red Sox. But the move that really drew the ire of TBS color commentator Ron Darling, and probably some on the Yankees’ payroll, came later in the game.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 08, 2018: Andrew Benintendi of the Boston Red Sox celebrates with Brock Holt after scoring a run off of a single hit by Steve Pearce against the New York Yankees during the fourth inning in Game Three of the American League Division Series at Yankee Stadium. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – OCTOBER 08, 2018: Andrew Benintendi of the Boston Red Sox celebrates with Brock Holt after scoring a run off of a single hit by Steve Pearce against the New York Yankees during the fourth inning in Game Three of the American League Division Series at Yankee Stadium. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

In the fifth inning, with the Red Sox up 10-1, Benintendi stole second base after drawing a walk. In the seventh, Benintendi walked again – but not before swinging at a 3-0 pitch from Yankees reliever Jonathan Holder.

“I would find that offensive, personally,” said Darling, who also questioned Benintendi’s decision to steal a base in the fifth.

Another potential Yankees target is Brock Holt, who completed the first cycle in postseason history when he hit a ninth-inning home run off Yankees backup catcher Austin Romine in extreme mop-up duty. The homer made the game 16-1, and Holt made history. And in a comment that could have him taking a fastball on the backside, he admitted that he was trying to do it.

“Well obviously yeah, I knew I needed to hit a home run,” Holt said after the game. “I saw Romine was on the mound, so you get a little antsy when a position player is on the mound. I told everyone, ‘Get me up. I need a home run for a cycle.’ I was going to try to hit a home run, but I figured I’d ground out to first, be out in front of something. But I scooted up in the box a little bit, and I was going to be swinging at anything and try to hook anything.

“Obviously, you don’t expect to hit a home run, but I was trying to. I was trying to hit a home run. That’s probably the first time I’ve ever tried to do that. I rounded the bases, and seeing everybody going nuts in the dugout was a pretty cool moment for me.”

Oct 8, 2018; Bronx, NY, USA; Boston Red Sox second baseman Brock Holt (12) runs the bases after hitting a two-run home run against the New York Yankees during the ninth inning in game three of the 2018 ALDS playoff baseball series at Yankee Stadium. Holt became the first player in postseason history to hit for the cycle. Mandatory Credit: Kevin R. Wexler/NorthJersey.com via USA TODAY NETWORK

Not sure what Darling or any of baseball’s other gatekeepers wanted the Red Sox to do. Strike out on purpose? Stop trying to score runs? The stolen base, in particular, was laughable in that it actually offended anyone. It’s barely halfway over and anyone who’s watched a playoff game (any game, really) in Yankee Stadium knows that the team can rally quickly. A 10-1 lead is comfortable, sure, but against the Red Sox’ shaky bullpen in that ballpark? Not totally insurmountable.

This isn’t a random game in the middle of May. It’s October baseball. Just keep playing and keep trying to score. But that argument won’t work on baseball’s biggest supporters of maintaining the game’s convoluted, overbearing “code”.

Sabathia could be among those who want to send Benintendi or Holt something of a message on Tuesday night. Even if he throws one up and in just to knock them off the plate. Take your warning and move on. Knowing Sabathia, it shouldn’t be a surprise if he did something. Especially when the Yankees may need to put a little extra on tonight’s game with their season on the line and the fact that they’re coming off an absolute spanking.

At the same time, there’s another variable in Tuesday’s home plate umpire, Angel Hernandez. After a game in which he had three calls at first base overturned via replay and drew plenty of criticism for his umpiring, Hernandez could be looking to act like the sheriff out there. So the Yankees will certainly have to be careful, if anything.

With their backs against the proverbial wall, it may be wise for the Yankees to just focus on winning the game and not some silly revenge fantasy. But Sabathia is kind of a wild card and the Yanks are in a spot where they need to re-assert themselves.

So when Holt and Benintendi come to the plate, get your popcorn ready.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at matthew.dolloff@bbgi.com.