BOSTON – Gary Sanchez homered twice, Aaron Judge also hit a tape-measure shot and Masahiro Tanaka pitched the New York Yankees past the Boston Red Sox 6-2 on Saturday night to tie their A.L. Division Series at one game apiece.
Home runs by Judge and Sanchez helped chase David Price after only five outs. Sanchez’s second homer, a three-run shot in the seventh that made it 6-1, was projected at 479 feet.
One night after Chris Sale earned his first career playoff victory, Price failed in his 10th try to win a postseason start and was booed off the field by a sold-out Fenway Park crowd hoping to see the A.L. East champions protect the home-field advantage they earned with a franchise-record 108 regular-season wins.
Instead, the wild-card Yankees will have a chance to advance to the A.L. Championship Series with victories at home, where they are 7-0 over the past two postseasons, in Games 3 and 4 on Monday and Tuesday nights.
Game 5 would be back in Boston on Thursday, if necessary.
Judge’s homer, estimated at 445 feet, landed in the back row of the seats above the Green Monster, high above the 379-foot marker and about 10 feet to the left of the pole flying an American flag blowing straight out. Sanchez’s second homer was in same direction but sailed clean out of the park, onto Lansdowne Street.
Just a few feet away from that spot is a plaque noting that only six home runs in the 106-year history of Fenway Park have cleared the back wall on the other side of the flagpole. The last was by Jim Rice in 1975.
Sanchez, whose batting average didn’t top .200 after June 8, also had a solo shot in the second inning to give New York a 2-0 lead. Price then walked back-to-back batters with two outs and gave up an Andrew McCutchen’s RBI single on what could be his last pitch in a Red Sox uniform.
The 2012 A.L. Cy Young Award winner – and two-time runner up for the award – Price signed a seven-year, $217 million deal to come to Boston as a free agent before the 2016 season and has pitched like an ace in the regular season. But his postseason struggles have caused Red Sox fans to sour on him, and vice versa. He can opt out of his contract after the season, and if he can find something close to the four years and $124 million he is owed, he might just take it.
In all, Price was charged with three runs on three hits and two walks in 1 2/3 innings – the shortest playoff start of his career, and tied with Roger Clemens for the shortest in Red Sox postseason history. It was the first time in 299 regular-season and postseason starts that Price failed to strike out a batter.
Tanaka allowed just three hits, including Xander Bogaerts’ solo homer, before leaving after five innings with a 3-1 lead. He struck out four and walked one.
Red Sox reliever Ryan Brasier had words with Sanchez in the fifth inning, when the Yankees catcher stepped out of the box to think about the 1-2 count against him. Brasier motioned impatiently for Sanchez to get back in the box, and told him so in some impolite terms.
Sanchez struck out on the next pitch, a 97 mph fastball. But when he came up again in the seventh, he broke the game open. Sanchez had three multihomer games in the regular season, none after May 19.
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