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Chris 'Mad Dog' Russo tells K&C he's stunned Red Sox are in position to advance past Yankees

Alex Reimer
October 09, 2018 - 1:26 pm

Chris “Mad Dog” Russo, one of the legends of New York sports talk, says he thought the Yankees were going to steamroll the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium this week. But he’s been proven wrong, and now believes the series is a toss-up.

In an interview with “Kirk & Callahan” Tuesday, Russo said he was stunned with how well the Red Sox played in their 16-1 route of the Bombers in Game 3.

“I was very, very surprised,” Russo said. “I thought the Red Sox were 50-50 at best to get back to Fenway. It tells you what I know. I did not like what I saw out of the Red Sox in those two games. I thought the Yankees were better, and then (Luis) Severino goes out there and lays an egg. (Aaron) Boone did not distinguish himself, either. Way, way too long with Severino that fourth inning. Get him out of the game, jeez. Then he brings in the wrong guy. You can't bring in Lance Lynn there –– bases loaded, nobody out, and here comes Lance Lynn? Aaron, come back to me. Please. Terrible. But that's what you get when you bring in a guy with absolutely no managerial experience in his life. He might make a move like that. 

“The Red Sox took it to them from the first pitch –– (Mookie) Betts hits the ball to the fence in centerfield, they had enthusiasm, jump to their step. (Nathan) Eovaldi pitched great. The Red Sox, it's almost like they had something to prove in this game. The Yankees are in trouble.”

Russo had ample criticism for rookie skipper Aaron Boone, saying any hypothetical Yankees loss would probably be blamed on him. In addition to leaving in Luis Severino for too long on Monday, Russo says he thinks J.A. Happy should start instead of CC Sabathia in Game 4, though he doesn’t believe Boone is making the final call there.

“I'll tell you something right now, and I've said this for two days: Happ should pitch the game tonight,” Russo explained. “He only pitched 40 pitchers in Game 1. I know it's short rest, but I would pitch Happ tonight and then (Masahiro) Tanaka in Game 5. That's what I would do. I would not bring my season down to CC Sabathia in this spot. I know CC has been a great pitcher, but he's 40 years old. I would not pitch him tonight if it was my team.

“I think it's (Brian) Cashman making the calls –– not Boone. I think it's Cashman telling him who to start –– it's a group decision, but Cashman has the final say. That's what I would do. Again, they used CC a lot last year in big games –– Game 5 in Cleveland, he started Game 7 in Houston. We all know he had a very crafty and good year for a guy his age. He's been a great pitcher, nobody is arguing that. But he worries me in this game. I would go with Happ. This is a very, very tricky game. The Red Sox have a tremendous opportunity. They have a big spring to their step, they played a great game last night, (Alex) Cora looks like a genius with his lineup with (Brock) Holt, and (Rick) Porcello –– he's the sort of pitcher that if you're tight, he can take advantage of that. It think the Yankees could be tight tonight, and that could help Porcello. Though I do think the Yankees will probably win, this one is closer to 50-50 than one would think.”

While the Red Sox are riding high right now, they’re still dealing with the David Price conundrum, following his wretched outing in Game 3. But Russo, unlike many pundits in Boston, says he thinks Price will likely start another game for the Red Sox this postseason, provided they advance.

Russo does, however, lay the blame at Dave Dombrowski for signing Price and not forecasting the difficulty he would experience in Boston.

“I'll tell you one thing, I love Dombrowski. I think he's a great GM. But everybody in the world knew that Price and Boston was going to be very shaky,” Russo said. “We saw (John) Gibbons not pitch him in that Texas series a few years ago. He didn't want to pitch him in that game, so he pitched him in relief in Game 4, didn't pitch him in Game 5, and had (Marcus) Stroman pitch. We all know he's not a great big game pitcher. And the Red Sox gave him $217 million. The Red Sox should've known what they were getting into.”