The Yankees have no one to blame but themselves
The New York Yankees are on the brink of elimination after a demoralizing 8-3 loss to the Houston Astros. The Astros were fine and took advantage of every opportunity given, but the Yankees have no one to blame but themselves.
A first inning that could have knocked Zack Greinke out of the game produced only one run. With the bases loaded and one out, Brett Gardner walked to bring home Aaron Judge. After that, Greinke was able to work out of trouble and the game was pretty much over from there.
The Yankees had multiple chances to take the lead, or at the least make it a close game. They stranded ten runners on base (like they have all series) and loaded the bases twice throughout the game and produced one run.
Once the Yankees were not able to capitalize on their chances, the game looked out of reach. The Astros really only struck twice, but both were debilitating three-run home runs. The first, off Masahiro Tanaka, was a ripper off the bat of George Springer. The second, off Chad Green, was a Carlos Correa line drive that landed in almost the same exact spot in the left field seats.
This tweet personifies everything that’s wrong with the Yankees so far this series;
The game was well out of reach (6-1 in the sixth) when Gary Sanchez hit a two-run home run. The 6-3 deficit still seemed impossible to come back from, and in total the Yankees struck out 13 times.
The Yankees’ defense has been solid as a rock all season but on Thursday night they were uncharacteristically sloppy. Gleyber Torres and D.J. Lemahieu made two errors each, all on ground balls that took an unexpected hop. They weren’t in striking distance by those points but the fact that two of the best players on the team looked silly in the infield is a sign of how things were going for the team.
The final score was 8-3 but the Game Four loss felt like a 16-3 blowout. The Astros did everything they needed to and more, and the Yankees did not. Masahiro Tanaka wasn’t horrible, but his five inning, four hit, four run (three earned) leaves a lot to be desired. It was more a product of one bad pitch but against a team like the Astros you just can’t make those mistakes.
On the flip side, Zack Greinke wasn’t great either but was able to work out of trouble. It was honestly more the Yankees working themselves into bad counts than Greinke being efficient, but at the end of the day Greinke’s statline of 4 1/3 innings of three hit, one run ball looks a lot better than Tanaka’s.
The Astros’ bullpen has silenced the Yankee sluggers all series long and Thursday night was no different. Other than the Sanchez home run, the Yankees were swinging and missing all night. Once again, it’s more a product of the Yankees beating themselves than the Astros being world beaters.
Two of the other lowlights in all of this were the appearances of Adam Ottavino and C.C. Sabathia. Ottavino once again did not get an out in his two batter appearance, becoming the only pitcher in Major League Baseball history to not record an out in four straight postseason appearances. In fairness, one of D.J. Lemahieu’s errors came while Ottavino was pitching, but nonetheless he still wasn’t impressive.
As for Sabathia, he came into the game in the eighth inning and was raring back, throwing fastballs near the mid-90’s for the first time in years. He was trying to empty the gas tank because he knew this may be his last time ever pitching. Unfortunately for the big fella, he rared back a little too fast and tweaked his shoulder in the middle of the inning. Walking off for possibly the last time ever, it was a sad sight to see Sabathia go off due to injury and not on his own terms;
The game was despicable and the Yankees are who we tried to pretend they weren’t; An ultimate boom or bust team. All season long we spoke about how D.J. Lemahieu would change the hitting culture and how patient the Yankees have been at the plate.
Credit the Astros for making them uncomfortable, but the Yankees are beating themselves by not working counts, swinging at first pitches and striking out with RISP. This is 2017 all over again and eventually something needs to change. Is is the nerves? Is it just superior pitching? Are the Yankee hitters just not good enough? It doesn’t matter because the Yankees are one game away from this being a wasteful season and with Justin Verlander on the mound, it’s not going to be any easier.
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