The Red Sox and Yankees will face off tomorrow night in Fenway in a one-game playoff to decide which team advances to the ALDS. Oh baby if that doesn’t have the makings of high drama. Both teams’ aces in Nathan Eovaldi and Gerrit Cole will be toeing the rubber, though each of them will probably have a short leash due to the win-or-go-home aspect of the game. It’ll be intense.
The strategies in these one-game playoffs is usually to throw every pitcher you can depending on the matchup and to rely on situational hitting. You are playing to win that game and that game only. Both teams will surely be emptying the pen if necessary and playing for a run from the get-go. However, there’s one more bit of strategy Alex Cora should implement.
If the Red Sox want to extend their season, they should take the bats out of Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge’s hands.
Judge and Stanton are scalding hot right now. Big G has a 1.120 OPS over his last ten games, with four home runs and a whopping 14 RBI. Three of those bombs and 10 of those RBI came in last weekend’s three-game series against the Sox, when Stanton made Fenway his own personal driving range.
Judge’s OPS is 1.061 since the aforementioned series, with three homers and nine RBI. Each of these behemoths is peaking right now and can change the course of a game at any moment. They are also the anchors of a lineup that has vastly underperformed this season. The Yankees are as top-heavy as it gets.
Pitch around Judge and Stanton. Don’t challenge them if you don’t absolutely have to. If Gallo or Rizzo or LeMahieu beats you, well, shit happens. But giving the two obvious anchors of the Yankees lineup the opportunity to ruin Boston’s season is unacceptable. Take a page out of Bill Belichick’s book and neutralize the opponent’s best weapon.
Get Ready for Chaos
These Wild Card one-game playoffs are probably unfair. You play 162 games of good baseball just to have it potentially go up in smoke in three hours? The Dodgers could be eliminated in one day after winning 106 games? That’s fucked. Nevertheless, you can’t deny the excitement.
These games are usually wildly entertaining, with both teams trying to scratch and claw their way to victory. Plus, it’s Yankees-Sox. The best rivalry in sports. If there was ever a recipe for a heart-pounding nine innings of baseball, this is it.