NEW YORK — Red Sox manager Alex Cora sent Brock Holt a text message on Sunday night telling him he would be starting Game 3 of the Division Series against the Yankees on Monday.
Holt, 1 for 15 in his career against New York starter Luis Severino, was a bit surprised.
“Are you sure?” he thumbed back.
Cora was. He also had decided to move up Nathan Eovaldi to start the game and to get Rafael Devers and Christian Vazquez in the lineup for the first time in the series along with Holt.
The result was a 16-1 thrashing of the Yankees as Holt hit for the first cycle in postseason history and drove in five runs and Eovaldi pitched seven dominant innings.
As Holt made history with his cycle, Cora had a perfect game as every move clicked. Devers, Holt and Vazquez were 8 for 18 with seven RBIs and six runs scored.
“Play the Powerball tomorrow, and hopefully I can get it,” Cora said.
Game 4 will be 8:07 p.m. on Tuesday. If the Sox win, they host the Houston Astros in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series on Saturday. Rick Porcello will face CC Sabathia Tuesday.
A loss would mean a deciding Game 5 at Fenway on Thursday.
“We’ve got a chance to come here and put a good game and see what happens. I know they trust CC. We trust Rick,” Cora said. “It should be fun.
The 16 runs were the second-most ever scored by the Red Sox in a playoff game and the most allowed by the Yankees. The Sox, who had 18 hits, scored the final two runs when Holt homered to right field in the ninth inning off backup catcher Austin Romine.
“I knew I needed a home run,” Holt said. “I told everyone, ‘Get me up. I need a home run for a cycle.’ I was going to try to hit a home run, but I figured I’d ground out to first, be out in front of something.
“But I scooted up in the box a little bit, and I was going to be swinging at anything and try to hook anything . . . I was trying to hit a home run. That’s probably the first time I’ve ever tried to do that.”
As the Sox offense battered the Yankee pitchers, Eovaldi quieted their lineup in the first postseason game of his career. The righthander allowed one run on five hits and struck out five without a walk. Only two runners advanced beyond first base as he fired 72 of 97 pitches for strikes.
Eovaldi has faced the Yankees four times since the Red Sox acquired him from Tampa Bay in July and allowed one earned run over 23 innings.
“We were able to score some runs early, which made it easier for me to pitch,” Eovaldi said. “I feel like my fastball command and my cutter were really effective tonight, and I was just trying to use their aggressiveness against them and try and get some quick outs.”
Yankees manager Aaron Boone felt his hitters expanded their strike zone. Once the Sox scored seven runs in the fourth inning to take a 10-0 lead, Eovaldi pounded strike after strike.
Initially the Game 4 starter, Eovaldi was bumped up to Monday after Porcello pitched in relief in Game 1. With a sellout crowd howling, Eovaldi never blinked.
“He was just being Nate,” Cora said. “Pitching in Tampa or pitching in Fenway or pitching in Yankee Stadium, he knows his stuff is good, and it’s just about executing, throwing strikes, and letting the defense do the job.”
Cora made four changes to the lineup he used in Game 2, one out of necessity and three by choice.
With Mitch Moreland being treated for a strained right hamstring, Steve Pearce started at first base. But Cora decided to play Devers at third base instead of Eduardo Nunez and Holt at second base in place of Ian Kinsler. He also caught Vazquez in lieu of Sandy Leon.
Devers had two hits, scored twice, and drove in a run. Vazquez had two hits, one run, and one RBI.
That Kinsler, Leon, and Nunez had contributed little to the offense in the first two games was a factor. But Cora also pointed to how well Holt swung the bat at the end of the regular season and Devers’s ability to deliver an extra-base hit.
“Christian, his ability to put the ball in play is important. There’s a few things we feel we can do,” Cora said before the game.
Cora looked smart in the second inning when Vazquez hit a two-strike pitch hard up the middle and it deflected off Severino far enough for Devers to score from third base.
Severino started to become unraveled in the third inning. Mookie Betts walked and went to third on a single to shallow left field by Andrew Benintendi. J.D. Martinez’s sacrifice fly made it 2-0. Benintendi then scored when Devers grounded into a force.
The fourth inning blew the game open as the Sox scored seven runs on six hits. They sent 11 men to the plate.
Holt singled and Vazquez singled and Jackie Bradley Jr. drew a walk to load the bases. That was the end of the night for Severino. The crowd booed him off the field in much the same way Fenway Park serenaded David Price in Game 2.
Lance Lynn walked Betts to force in a run. Benintendi then hit a cue-shot double into the right-field corner that cleared the bases. The Sox were on their way to a rout.
“I was trying to stay short and just put the ball in play and hopefully get something to the outfield and at least get one run in,” Benintendi said.
From there, Holt made history.
“Tonight is something I’ll remember for a long, long time,” he said.
More photos from Jim Davis