What More Do You Want? The ALCS Is Now a 5 Game Heavyweight War

You weren’t going to get rid of the Houston Astros that quickly. You don’t just discard a 107 win team like that and expect them not to fight back. The Yankees won Game 1 in dominant fashion. They had to win that game with Zack Greinke pitching, and they did. Game 2 started off as house money. Verlander pitching against James Paxton. If you can get to him early and lean on the pen, maybe you can steal that game. What started off as house money became a GOLDEN opportunity to step on the throats of Houston. New York didn’t do that.

The Yankees got 4 and 1/3 innings of the Astros bullpen. A glaring weakness entering this series of which New York had the clear upper hand. In those 4.1 innings the Yankees bats mustered one single fucking hit, and two walks. That’s not going to cut it. That’s where the Yankees have to thrive. Knock Verlander out before he can finish the 7th and take advantage. That’s the recipe for winning this series against their big guns. They failed in executing that strategy on Sunday night.

Now sure, Adam Ottavino did not do his job. James Paxton did not do his job, but in no way whatsoever was this the Yankees pitchers’ fault. Prior to JA Happ surrendering that first pitch walk off blast to Carlos Correa in the 11th, the Yanks pen had twirled 7.2 IP of one run ball with 11 strikeouts. JA Happ came in the inning before and worked a houdini like act to wash away Johnny Lasagna’s mess.

I mean what more could you ask of them? They simply ran out of pitchers. Was that in part because Paxton couldn’t get through the 3rd? Definitely, but Boone managed this game to win in regulation. You can’t think about who is going to be left in the game in the 11th inning while your starter can’t throw shit for strikes out there. The quick hook of Paxton allowed the Yankees to stay in this game. Chad Green came in and was a revelation. He was untouchable. Could he have gone a 3rd full inning? Probably, but Adam Ottavino is on this roster to get big outs, specifically the top of the order. He was on the ALDS roster to get Nelson Cruz out. So far he has done pretty much none of the above. George Springer hunts 4 seam fastballs. His numbers on those are off the charts. That’s what Chad Green throws. The numbers clearly said to go to Ottavino. He just has to make a more competitive pitch than that hanging slider. Hindsight is 20/20 and Green was cruising, but Adam Ottavino needs to become Adam Ottavino again. I’m worried where his confidence level is at right now. It’s certainly not high.

With the game tied in the 6th, the Yankees had two on with just one out for Edwin and Gardy. Edwin has had a brutal two games with back to back 0-4 3 strikeout performances. I love Edwin and he can certainly change a game with one swing, but he’s got to be better at Yankee Stadium than this. Gardy came up with two out and two on. He worked his usual grind it out, vintage playoff at bat. It all felt right. He was just waiting for his pitch. Verlander hung one and Brett smacked it. At first your initial reaction is why on Earth did Phil Nevin send DJ here, but looking back I agree with it 100%.

That bounce that ball took off Altuve right to a hustling Correa is 1 in a million. You have to put the pressure on the defense in that spot. Plus, with the slumping Gary Sanchez on deck, you have to take that chance. The odds that ball bounces right to Correa, he picks it up cleanly, then fires on the money to home for the out are just not in Houston’s favor at all. That’s a perfect play. It was the play of the game. The play of the series so far. You just have to tip your cap to Correa and shake your head at the unluckiness. 100/100 times you send DJ there and probably 95 of them he’s safe.

It sucks so much to lose that game. If I told you in the 7th inning the Yankees would be up 1 game to nothing and in a tie ball game with JV out of the game you take that and run every time. Bottom line just didn’t come through at the plate. Just 1-3 with RISP. They never gave themselves a real chance, outside that 10th inning. You just have to generate more chances against that pen.

At the end of the day, the Yankees did their job. They took back home field advantage in this series by winning a game in Houston, which is something they did not do in 2017. Now they head home. 3 games at the stadium. A place no visitor wants any part of. The unstoppable Gerrit Cole will toe the rubber opposite Luis Severino in a battle of flame throwers. The hope is to do the same with Cole as they did with JV. Wait him out, put up zeroes on the scoreboard with Sevy, and hope Cole makes one mistake you can jump on. They can beat Gerrit Cole. I believe in due. Gerrit Cole is due for a loss.

On the flips side, Gary Sanchez needs to start hitting. Edwin needs to start hitting. Ottavino needs to get outs again. And Giancarlo Stanton needs to toughen up or say we’ll see ya next March. He’ll have two off days when Tuesday morning rolls around. By then it’s either he’s healthy enough to start and contribute, or he’s off the roster. I know that’s harsh and I know that would mean he’s off the World Series roster too, but we’re not thinking that far ahead. We’ve got an ALCS tied at 1 game all. You cannot afford to have a wasted roster spot off the bench. That belongs to either Luke Voit or Tyler Wade. Maybe they give Luke the nod and give him a start at DH to get some magic going. I wouldn’t hate it one bit. Wade would be useful as well as another outfielder and needed speed in a pinch running role. In that 10th inning where Edwin drew a walk, that was the spot for Wade to come in. Who knows even if Gary hit a single if Edwin scores from 2nd. That’s where wasting G on the bench kills you. With 13 pitchers on the roster you can’t afford to have Stanton just sit there and do nothing. I know it’s not my place as a blogger to say toughen up to a professional baseball player, but G it’s time to toughen up. You played through the injury all of Game 1 and even hit a homer doing so. Let’s go buddy. This is your time.

Game 3. Tuesday at 4:00. Luis Severino. Gerrit Cole. The ALCS is now a 5 game series with 3 games being played in the Bronx Zoo. Let’s get to work.

P.S. It is supposed to POUR on Wednesday night which would throw a wrench in a game plan for probably duel bullpen games.