USA Today Sports

Red Sox' Game 1 win puts good, bad on full display

Rob Bradford
October 05, 2018 - 11:16 pm

Dig in.

That's probably the best direction anyone could offer after watching the Red Sox' 5-4 win over the Yankees in Game 1 of the American League Division Series Friday night. (For a complete recap, click here.)

As's John Tomase tweeted in the middle of the Yankees' sixth- and seventh- inning comeback: "Imagine needing to win 10 more games like this?"

As much as the Red Sox should feel a sense of accomplishment in many ways after winning their first Game 1 of a postseason series since 2013, the notion that Alex Cora's team could accomplish their ultimate goal of winning the World Series in this fashion seemed somewhat implausible.

It is what it is: An imperfect step in the right direction. You can thank the bullpen for that.

The good for the Red Sox wasn't hard to uncover, starting with J.D. Martinez's first-inning, three-run homer off New York starter J.A. Happ. In fact, up until the sixth inning, there really wasn't much that didn't go wrong for the hosts. 

They not only drove Happ from the game after just two innings, building a 5-0 lead after three frames, but perhaps the biggest focal of the point of the night, Chris Sale, showed his best self. The Red Sox ace came out of the gate with a 96 mph fastball and didn't look back, getting his first four outs on strikeouts. 

For the most part, Sale dominated his 5 1/3 innings, ending up with eight punchouts while allowing five hits. He was charged with a pair of runs, but that was a product of two runs surrendered by reliever Ryan Brasier. It was after the lefty's exit where the narrative did an about-face.

Brasier could only get one out, allowing a hit and a walk, before giving way to Brandon Workman. Workman saved himself and the Red Sox after walking Gary Sanchez on four pitches and loading the bases, getting Gleyber Torres to swing and miss at a 3-2 curveball to end the threat.

Things only got more uncomfortable in the seventh inning when Workman allowed the first two batters in the inning to reach. On came Matt Barnes, who first moved the runners along on a wild-pitch before loading them by walking Brett Gardner. Barnes did come back to fan Giancarlo Stanton before allowing Luke Voit to bring the Yankees within a pair with a fielder's choice, run-scoring groundout. Then, with Rick Porcello and Joe Kelly warming up in the bullpen, Barnes finished off his half inning with a weak groundout off the bat of Didi Gregorius.

Cora managed to get the Red Sox through the eighth inning using the unconventional path of bringing in Porcello -- who was slated to start Game 3 -- for two outs before bringing in Craig Kimbrel for his eighth eighth-inning appearance this season.

But just because Kimbrel was in didn't mean all was solved.

Facing his first batter of the ninth inning, the closer allowed an opposite-field homer to Aaron Judge to close the gap to one. But in the end, the Red Sox still finished their roller coaster without any further malfunctions thanks to  three straight strikeouts -- Brett Gardner, Giancarlo Stanton, and Luke Voit.