Craig Kimbrel escaped a bases-loaded jam in the ninth inning, and the Boston Red Sox held on for a 4-3 victory over the host New York Yankees on Tuesday night to win an American League Division Series in four games.
The Red Sox advance to the AL Championship Series, where they will host Houston Astros in Game 1 on Friday.
Kimbrel created his mess by loading the bases on four-pitch walks to Aaron Judge and Luke Voit sandwiched around a single by Didi Gregorius. He allowed two runs by hitting Neil Walker in the foot and allowing a sacrifice fly to Gary Sanchez to deep left but escaped by retiring Gleyber Torres.
Torres hit a slow ground ball to third base, and Eduardo Nunez fielded it. He threw across the diamond to first baseman Steve Pearce, who stretched to make the catch.
The Red Sox began celebrating, but the Yankees challenged the initial call. After 63 seconds, the original was upheld, and Boston formally began celebrating advancing to its 11th ALCS and first since beating Detroit in 2013.
The Red Sox carried a 4-1 lead into the ninth thanks to J.D. Martinez’s sacrifice fly, run-scoring hits by Ian Kinsler and Nunez and a solo home run by Christian Vazquez.
Rick Porcello (1-0) and three relievers preceded Kimbrel’s high-wire act.
Moved back a day after throwing 15 pitches in the eighth inning of Game 1, Porcello (1-0) displayed command of the strike zone most of the night. He held the Yankees to one run on four hits.
Porcello needed only 25 pitches to get through New York’s lineup the first time and entered the fifth inning with only 40 pitches. The fifth was where he encountered his most significant threat.
With one out, the Yankees put runners at second and third on a double by Gary Sanchez and an infield single by Torres before scoring their first run on a sacrifice fly by Brett Gardner. Porcello then ended the inning by getting Aaron Hicks on a pop-up on the ninth pitch of the at-bat.
By then, the Red Sox appeared in control.
They scored three in the third off Sabathia (0-1), and it started with a sacrifice fly by Martinez. Kinsler made it 2-0 with a double over Gardner’s head in left, and Nunez made it 3-0 with a single to left.
Those hits came a night after Brock Holt and Rafael Devers helped the Red Sox roll to a 16-1 rout in Game 3. Holt and Devers returned to the bench as Kinsler and Nunez re-entered the starting lineup.
The Red Sox made it 4-0 when Vazquez lined a 2-1 fastball into the right field seats off Zach Britton.
Matt Barnes got two groundouts in a scoreless sixth, Ryan Brasier pitched a perfect seventh and Chris Sale ended a scoreless eighth by striking out Hicks.
In possibly his final start of a 10-year run with the Yankees, Sabathia allowed three runs on five hits in three innings.
Boston recorded its fourth straight postseason win in New York. Since losing Game 2 of the 2004 ALCS, the Red Sox have outscored the Yankees 34-9 in postseason games in the Bronx.