Death by papercuts – Cole shuts down Yankees in Game Three loss
The New York Yankees had an opportunity to go up 2-1 in the ALCS with an improbable victory over Astros’ ace Gerrit Cole. Unfortunately, they had plenty of chances to do so and squandered all of them.
Cole pitched a very efficient game; seven innings, four hits of no run ball. However, the Yankees worked five walks off the usually locked in Cole. They started the game off with back-to-back singles by D.J. LeMahieu and Aaron Judge to test Cole early. Brett Gardner and Edwin Encarnacion popped up on first pitch swings and Gleyber Torres struck out.
The Yankees had another opportunity to get to Cole later in the game. An Encarnacion double and a Torres walk set the stage for Didi Gregorius to finally get through the impenetrable Cole. Didi ripped a ball on the first pitch, but it fell just short of the fence as it was caught on the warning track by Astros right fielder Josh Reddick.
The only other sign of life from the Yankees was an eight inning home run by Torres to cut the Astros lead to 4-1. Other than that, they had no answers all night and there were a few guys in particular that stuck out.
Gary Sanchez was horrid both at the dish and behind the plate. Gardner for some reason was back in the three-hole despite not producing so far, and he didn’t do much in this one. In total, the Yankees left 13 men on base and time just ran out on their rallies.
As for the Astros, their formula worked to a tee. Jose Altuve homered off Luis Severino on the third pitch of the game to silence the crowd. Reddick homered in the second off Sevy to make it a 2-0 game.
The Yankees were in it for the whole game, but against Cole even a two run deficit seems insurmountable. Severino wound up going 4 1/3 innings with the only damage coming on the two solo shots. He wasn’t great but he certainly was able to work himself out of trouble multiple times.
The turning point (and dagger) came in the top of the seventh when Adam Ottavino came in to pitch. Ottavino walked the first batter George Springer and Altuve executed a perfect hit-and-run to move Springer over to third.
Ottavino was immediately removed from the game and Zack Britton came in the game to try and clean up the mess. Britton was able to get a groundout on the next at-bat, but Springer was smart and purposely put himself in a pickle at third to advance Altuve and Michael Brantley two bases.
Britton then threw a wild pitch that scored Altuve and gave up a sac fly to Yuri Gurriel that scored Brantley. The damage was done as the Astros’ 4-0 lead proved to be more than enough against a lifeless Yankees offense.
One bright spot in this loss is the poise of Aaron Hicks at the plate. After being out of commission for two months, Hicks drew two key walks against one of the best pitchers in baseball. Hicks’ bat looks just fine and if he’s healthy enough to roam center field, should be starting again Wednesday.
Wednesday’s game will most likely be rained out, so Game Four will be Thursday and Game Five will be Friday. Be prepared Yankees fans. The game was a setback but the series is far from over.
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