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Do or die – Yankees try to stay alive in Game 4 of ALDS

Well Yankee fans this is it.  The season hangs in the balance after the Red Sox annihilated the Yankees 16-1 on Monday night.  On the hill for the Yanks on Tuesday is a familiar face, C.C. Sabathia.  Although Sabathia is now 38 years old and well past his prime, he is still a money pitcher in the playoffs and will look to continue that success against a potent Boston offense.

Opposing him for the Red Sox is Rick Porcello, who has a good track record against the Yankees and got the Red Sox out of trouble after their bullpen imploded in Game 1 of this series.  He looks to close this series out in the Bronx against a Yankee team that’s been inconsistent at best.  Here are three keys for what has to be a Yankees victory;

Throw strikes

C.C. Sabathia could not be a more different pitcher from when he broke into the league as a young, jolly Cleveland Indian.  He is now a grizzled vet and uses precision and his newly found cutter to get hitters out.  His fastball tops off at 93 MPH, a mere 5 MPH to where it was earlier in his career.

The Yankees have run into trouble so far this series with walks.  Luis Severino issued several on Tuesday, J.A. Happ the same, and the Red Sox will make you pay for those walks.  For example, when Severino walked Mookie Betts, Betts turned an Andrew Benintendi single into a two base affair, going for second on a hit and run and making his way all the way to third to turn a potential double play into second and third.  That changed the tone of the game and showed that the Red Sox will eat you alive when you issue walks.

If Sabathia can limit the self-inflicted damage he should be able to pitch at least five innings.  The Yankees don’t need a vintage complete game start from C.C., they just need stability for the first few innings.  If Sabathia can escape unscathed and keep the Yankees in the game, their bullpen will do the rest.

Do not overthink things

As mentioned in the Game 3 recap, Aaron Boone had the worst night of his short managerial career.  He chose to go with Lance Lynn over Chad Green in the fourth inning, and cost himself at least three runs because of it.  He left Luis Severino in the game two batters too long, and lost his team the game.

Boone is still learning to feel when pitchers need to be taken out, but he can’t overthink things in a do or die game.  If Sabathia looks like he’s laboring, take him out immediately.  There’s no reason to rest your bullpen when your season is on the line.  If you have to, throw everyone you can out there just to preserve the lead or keep it close.

There is no tomorrow if you lose, so don’t be afraid to go to Dellin Betances or David Robertson again.  Stephan Tarpley and Lance Lynn will not win you a World Series.  Use high leverage pitchers in high leverage situations, and don’t get too cute.

Kids need to hit

The bottom of the Yankees lineup not named Gary Sanchez have been pretty much invisible this entire series.  The future A.L. Rookie of the Year Miguel Andujar has been neutralized, and although Gleyber Torres has a few hits, has not shown the potential he’s flashed many times this season.

If the Yankees are going to win Game 4, they need contributions from these two.  They can’t be automatic outs like they have been the first three games.  Andujar needs to start ripping his patented doubles.  Torres needs to use his inside out swing to produce singles in the gaps.  They both need to be more patient and work counts to get to the Red Sox bullpen.  If they don’t, then it may be a long night for the Yankees.

The Yankees are in a do or die situation because both their pitching and hitting has failed them.  They could easily be up 2-1 if it was not for all the missed opportunities in Game 1, and they could have won Game 3 had Boone made the right decisions in crunch time.  As the great Yogi Berra once said, “It ain’t over til it’s over”.  Let’s hope that’s the case on Tuesday night.

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