October 19, 2019

CC Sabathia "Gave It His All" On The Mound

[Note: "All" Does Not Include Fielding His Position, A Task Sabathia
Thought (For Years) Opposing Teams Should Not Force Him To Do
]



Sure, he did ... as long as no one asked him to field his position, because a man has got to draw the line somewhere. And dealing with bunts is where CC chose to draw his line.

August 31, 2017:
I'm an old man, you know what I'm saying? They should want to go out and try to kick my butt. I just feel like they tried to take the weak road ... Let's go, let's play, swing the bat.
Sabathia has long thought that fielding his position was beneath him. In 2015 when Kyle Seager of the Mariners tried to help his team win by bunting. In September 2017, a few weeks after the Red Sox bunted on CC for the second straight start, the Twins also took the weak road.








October 18, 2019

Schadenfreude 261 (A Continuing Series)





Astros  - 003 003 011 - 8  8  1
Yankees - 100 002 000 - 3  5  4

George A. King III, Post:
[T]his is what the Yankees are facing: They must beat the Astros three straight — with the final two in Houston — to cop the ALCS and advance to the World Series. That isn't impossible, but only a sucker would bet on it happening. ...

[T]he baseball obit writers won't treat Aaron Boone's club kindly unless it stuns the universe and takes three in a row from A.J. Hinch's well-balanced outfit.

That is what the Yankees are looking at after a repulsive 8-3, loss to the Astros in Game 4 Thursday night ... that gave the visitors a commanding 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

The Yankees are in that precarious position because for the third straight ALCS game their bats remained largely dormant and didn't score more than one run in the first five frames when they drew five walks. Making four fielding errors didn't help, either. Nor did going hitless in seven at-bats with runners in scoring position. When the Yankees needed to be at their best to put pressure on the Astros they came up small.

With their season on life support, the Yankees will face AL Cy Young candidate Justin Verlander in Game 5 Friday night in The Bronx. ... The Yankees will counter with James Paxton, who surrendered a run and four hits in 2.1 innings in Game 2.

The ugly night was likely the end of CC Sabathia's ... career. ... [CC] departed with an apparent left shoulder issue after throwing a 1-1 pitch to George Springer with the bases loaded in the eighth. Sabathia's left arm was hanging at an awkward angle after delivering the pitch. ...

DJ LeMahieu and Gleyber Torres each made two errors. It got so bad what was left of the crowd in the ninth inning cheered when Didi Gregorius caught an infield pop.


Kristie Ackert, Daily News:
The Yankees are bobbling and whiffing it all away. After a sloppy 8-3 loss to the Astros at the Stadium in Thursday night's Game 4 of the American League Championship Series, the 2019 Bombers are on the brink of elimination.

On Friday, the Yankees have one last shot to avoid a decade of disappointment. It would be the first decade since the 1910s that they did not even appear in a World Series and just the second in which they did not win one in that span.

The Yankees committed four errors Thursday night, their most in a postseason game since 1976. They struggled with runners in scoring position and struck out 13 times as they let Game 4 get away. ...

The Yankees [bullpen] ... has allowed seven runs over the last three games. They spent big on Adam Ottavino, who couldn't record an out for the second straight game. ...

The Yankees came into October believing their formidable lineup and stacked bullpen would provide the roadmap to a World Series, but Thursday night the bats went quiet.

Slugger Edwin Encarnacion is 1-15 with eight strikeouts in four games. Brett Gardner is 2-for-15 with seven strikeouts in the series and Gary Sanchez was 1-for 16 with seven strikeouts [midway through Game 4]...

Game 4 will be remembered for its missed opportunities. That's without even getting into the four errors the infield committed.

The Yankees went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position and stranded ten runners. In these three straight losses, the Yankees went 1-for-16 with RISP.


Mike Vaccaro, Post:
By the time they cued up Sinatra, Yankee Stadium looked like one of those games in mid-May when the rain has chased everyone away, when only close friends and family remain in the seats, huddled against the misery. For even the fiercest, most faithful members of the flock, as midnight came and midnight left, it was best to simply make a quick escape, to the Deegan or the Macombs Dam Bridge or the 4 train.

The chill that swirled around the ballpark all night, and especially at the end, had felt a little too much like winter.

Suddenly, it is the bottom of the baseball season for the Yankees ... Suddenly, the Yankees' toes are tickling the edge of the abyss. The Astros pounded them 8-3, but the Yankees beat themselves plenty, too, picking the worst possible time to turn in their worst fielding game of the year (four errors). And one more time in this series, the offense continued to sputter like a '57 Chevy on a cold February morning. ...

They are down 3-1 in games in this best-of-seven American League Championship Series, and facing some awfully unfriendly odds. ...

And even if they do [win Game 5], Verlander's running mate, Gerrit Cole, will be waiting for them once they get to Texas. It is a most disagreeable task awaiting the Yankees, who for the second straight home game could muster very little ...

Twice — bottom of the first, bottom of the fifth — they had the bases loaded and a chance to flex the offensive muscle that had defined so much of this journey through the 2019 season. They did scratch out a run in the first when Greinke walked Brett Gardner on four pitches, then struck out Gary Sanchez to strand three.

Four innings later they chased Greinke and had the sacks juiced ... But Ryan Pressly struck out Gleyber Torres and Edwin Encarnacion, the Astros exploded in their dugout, a celebration easily audible in the suddenly silent Stadium.

Soon enough, it was 6-1 ... The rest was garbage time. The folks fleeing to the exits had seen enough, and it was impossible to blame them.

"Stranger things have happened," Boone said. "Much stranger."

It is precisely the message he has to sell to his team. There have been other teams that came back from a 1-3 deficit, and for all the overwhelming successes that've written the Yankees' history books, an essential part of their heritage is that [0-3] lead they blew 15 years ago to Boston. It is a black mark on that history but a reminder that their manager's words aren't just Pollyanna pap. ...

[H]is guys are running on fumes, leaking oil, and need to find a whole lot of answers in a short amount of time. Verlander awaits Friday. A year ago, more than a few of the Yankees grumbled at having to see the Red Sox celebrate their victory in the ALDS on Yankee Stadium soil, having to hear the muffled roars leak down the hallway from the visitors' clubhouse. Now they are in danger of enduring the exact same thing, hued in orange rather than crimson. ...

Traces of winter were everywhere at the Stadium on Thursday, and it will shadow the proceedings Friday night, in what could be the last gasp of baseball season in New York City ... added to a mounting heap of championship futility.


Joel Sherman, Post:
The Yankees lost two in a row in The Bronx to Baltimore in late March, followed by losing two straight to the Tigers in the next series to open April. Those two teams went on to be the majors' worst.

Which makes this a full circle moment for the Yankees. Somehow in October they were playing like the Orioles and Tigers. ... Zack Britton: "It was tough to watch."

So tough that most of the sellout crowd had abandoned the Stadium over the final few innings. The few thousand who remained were reduced to mock cheers for such Little League fundamentals as the Yankees successfully catching pop-ups. ...

The Yankees have a three-game losing streak ... They have played progressively worse during the slide, culminating with a performance in an 8-3 loss that was deplorable in every phase. ...

[T]he only thing "Savage" Thursday night was the beating the Astros inflicted. ...

[R]ight now the Yanks look a lot closer to Game 1 of the 2020 season than Game 6 of this ALCS. ... [T]hey appeared outclassed and unnerved. ...

If the Yanks never win a game at home in this ALCS ... overwhelming their personal postseason piƱata Minnesota is not enough.

The Yanks are going to have to show they belong on the same field as the Astros. ...

Boone made the hot Gleyber Torres, 22, the youngest cleanup hitter in Yankee postseason history and he responded with his worst game: five hitless at-bats, two strikeouts and two errors. ...

Masahiro Tanaka and Chad Green, as reliable as any Yankee pitchers this October, yielded the three-run homers. Gary Sanchez, who already had mostly forgotten how to hit, suddenly is having trouble catching the ball. Adam Ottavino, as undependable as just about any postseason pitcher ever, still can't get anybody out. ...

The Yankees are threatening not to go out like savages, but like Orioles.


Dan Martin, Post:
Even Gleyber Torres isn't immune to the Yankees' offensive malaise. ...

Batting cleanup in a postseason game for the first time, Torres went hitless and made a pair of errors as the Yankees came to within a loss of their season being over. ...

With runners on first and second and one out against Zack Greinke [in the bottom of the first], Torres swung at the first pitch and popped to first.

Torres ... came up with a chance to turn the tide in the bottom of the fifth, with the Yankees trailing by two runs. ... But Torres made a brief attempt at a Pressly pitch in the dirt. First base umpire Mark Carlson ruled Torres swung for the second out. Edwin Encarnacion whiffed to end the inning and the Yankees never got any closer.

Torres also struck out in the seventh and flied out to end the game in the ninth ...

Only a fine play by DJ LeMahieu in the second saved Torres from a third error.

Joel Sherman, Post:
Even the hint of a rally ignited a sellout crowd in The Bronx. So when DJ LeMahieu singled with one out in the fifth inning, the Yankee Stadium crowd went all Times Square on New Year's.

The Yankees trailed 3-1 ... so the faithful bellowed when Aaron Judge came up, perhaps unaware he was hitless in eight at-bats against Zack Greinke with five strikeouts ... [N]othing quite stirs this fan base like Judge in a big spot.

Judge walked to knock out Greinke on one full-count pitch, and Aaron Hicks greeted Ryan Pressly by walking on another full count. Pressly, Houston's top setup man, was in this game in the fifth inning because Astros manager A.J. Hinch sensed this was the key moment of Game 4. Two-run advantage and heart of the Yankee order due.

The intensity, importance and decibels rose. Aaron Boone had flipped Gleyber Torres into the cleanup spot ... However, Torres was called out going too far with an attempted check swing against a Pressly slider that bounced off the plate. Edwin Encarnacion, who was moved out of the cleanup spot, then struck out too.

Not long after, in the top of the sixth, Carlos Correa hit the three-run homer that had escaped Torres and Encarnacion to blow the game open. Gary Sanchez, who failed in perhaps the Yankees' biggest at-bat of Game 4 in the first inning, hit a [worthless] homer in the sixth. ...

[T]he Yankees failed in every phase and looked outclassed and unnerved by the conclusion. They played like the Orioles over the final three innings, looked like a team ready for winter. ...

The Yanks had not lost consecutive games at home to the same opponent since April. But they have lost two straight in The Bronx to the Astros and three in a row in this ALCS. ...

In the three-game losing streak, they are 1-for-16, including 0-for-13 in The Bronx, and have scored just six runs. ...

The Yankees generally just had bad at-bats and didn't hit the ball with authority. Fourteen balls were hit more than 100 mph in Game 4 — just two by the Yankees. ...

The precise Greinke had walked three batters total in his nine previous starts. He walked three in the first, including Brett Gardner with the bases loaded. He was at 25 pitches. Brad Peacock was warming. But Sanchez struck out on three pitches.

Greinke's fourth walk and final batter was Judge in the fifth. The crowd surged with enthusiasm and hope, imploring a big hit, a huge moment. It did not come. Again. And the plug was pulled on the noise and very possibly this Yankees season.
Dan Martin, Post:
Adam Ottavino's dream is now a full-fledged nightmare.

The right-hander faltered once again in the Yankees' 8-3 loss to Houston on Thursday in Game 4 of the ALCS.

It ended with him leaving to a chorus of boos from The Bronx crowd.

He allowed a leadoff double to Alex Bregman in the eighth. DJ LeMahieu didn't help by making his second error of the night at first base on a Yuli Gurriel grounder. ...

It was the fourth time in seven playoff appearances this year that Ottavino failed to retire a batter. Eleven of the 18 batters he's faced have reached base. ...

After his previous rocky outing, Ottavino said he'd bounce back.


Greg Joyce, Post:
The Yankee Stadium crowd roared, rising to its feet for a measly warm-up pitch in the eighth inning of a game the Yankees were six outs away from losing and reaching the brink of elimination in the ALCS. ...

But [CC] Sabathia's body would not cooperate ... He threw the pitch and immediately knew, walking off the field ... perhaps for the final time in his ... career, before the Yankees ultimately fell to the Astros 8-3 Thursday night in Game 4.


Yes, they do. And they did. ... By (Easily) Winning!

Greg Joyce, Post:
No visiting team expects the outfield at Yankee Stadium to be a friendly environment.

Verbal taunts are par for the course. But A.J. Hinch is ready to take action if his outfielders are put in harm's way again.

After right fielder Josh Reddick said he saw water bottles and baseballs being thrown from the stands by angry fans during Game 3 of the ALCS, Hinch will be on the lookout to protect his players. ...

Reddick said the debris came down on the field in the eighth inning Tuesday when a call was overturned in the Astros' favor.


Dan Martin, Post:
The Astros were cleared of any wrongdoing by Major League Baseball after an investigation conducted because the Yankees were upset with whistling they said was coming from the Houston dugout to signal hitters during Game 1 of the ALCS at Minute Maid Park.

The league checked with officials who were stationed near the Astros dugout in the first two games of the ALCS in Houston and they did not confirm the Yankees' suspicions. ...

Houston manager A.J. Hinch ... blasted the accusations, calling them "a joke. ... [W]hen I get contacted about some questions about whistling, it made me laugh because it's ridiculous. And had I known that it would take something like that to set off the Yankees or any other team, we would have practiced it in spring training. … It apparently works, even when it doesn't happen."
Deesha Thosar, Daily News:
No one expected Houston's bullpen to be the star of the ALCS; that was supposed to be New York's not-so-secret weapon. Yet, when the Yankees knocked Zack Greinke out of his Game 4 start in the fifth inning on Thursday, the Astros' relief corps took over and turned Aaron Boone's savages in the box into sheep at the plate. ...

Houston's bullpen outlasted New York's arms in Game 2 — setting the table for Carlos Correa's walk-off solo shot in the 11th inning. Gerrit Cole fired seven shutout innings in Game 3 before Roberto Osuna pitched a scoreless ninth to earn his first postseason save. ...

[For Game 4, it was] Ryan Pressly, Josh James, Will Harris, Joe Smith and Roberto Osuna. An Astros bullpen made up of all right-handers had no desire to prolong the ALCS ...

The Astros offense gave its relief corps a hand by extending a 3-1 lead to an 8-3 advantage that silenced the 49,067 fans in attendance and deadened the Yankees' World Series dreams. ... That's enough for the clubhouse staff to begin pulling out the plastic wrap that covers the visiting lockers and locate the champagne that can be guzzled as early as Friday.
Mike Vaccaro, Post:
It has been a subject of much discussion ... A small but vocal element of fans wondered — mostly on talk radio — if [Giancarlo] Stanton was really as hurt as he was letting on, which seems an absurd possibility. ...

The more rational and salient point was this: Should Stanton continue to occupy a roster spot if he can't play? It's a sticky situation, because if he is removed from and replaced on the ALCS roster ... he would also be forced to be kept off the World Series roster ...

Frankly, the Yankees did the right thing keeping him on. ...

If the Yankees make the World Series ...
And that's where I stopped reading that article.

Bradford William Davis, Daily News:
Over [the first] three games [of the ALCS], the Bronx Bombers are hitting .220 with a .292 on-base percentage ... [T]hey've had 11 total hits [in Games 2 and 3] ...

Stanton, who homered in Game 1, is dealing with a quad injury that knocked him out of the lineup, but [Boone] has him available for pinch-hitting. (He has yet to pinch-hit.) ...

No one hits the ball harder than Stanton. ... [That's] especially important now, after the Yankees have had a few near-misses on series-altering home runs ...

But Stanton can't rip the seams off the ball from the bench. ...

Time is running out on their chances to maximize their roster. Or, they could find themselves waiting on Stanton through the winter and into April, while another team takes advantage of the squad not offering their best shot at a title.
Bradford William Davis, Daily News:
If there was one place to send Giancarlo Stanton, still allegedly a pinch-hitting option, it came in the fifth inning. Despite Grienke having a sharp slider, the Yankees worked the control artist into a bases-loaded situation. Ryan Pressley came in to relieve the veteran Astros hurler. ...

Edwin Encarnacion is revered by his teammates for his hitting savvy. But the team does not have time for the bat he's swinging (.067 batting average in the ALCS) to catch up with the intelligence and track record. ...

Fangraphs features a stat called Win Expectancy, which it calculates by looking at the count (say, a bases-loaded, two-out game in the fifth) and every other identical situation to see how past teams performed.

So, in this critical juncture, Encarnacion struck out and it was the biggest drop from any Yankee hitter all game, plummeting the Bombers' chances of winning from 33.6% to 23.2%. It was, empirically, the biggest moment of the game. Boone was adamant that he had no plans to pinch-hit for Encarnacion there, telling reporters that this at-bat "wasn't the situation."

So, if Stanton is available, but not playing at the biggest juncture of the year — what's the situation? ...

Whatever it is, [Masahiro] Tanaka didn't have it. But there's a glory to the pitcher giving something despite having nothing. This doesn't mean something is enough, but, still, it's something that with the right lens, you can appreciate.
Hooooo-kay!












Apropos of nothing:
Yankees in 2004 ALCS:    W  W  W  L  L  L  L
Yankees in 2019 ALDS/CS: W  W  W  W  L  L  L

October 16, 2019

ALCS 4: Astros at Yankees, 8 PM (ET)

ALCS: Astros lead 2-1.


Dan Martin, Post:
Masahiro Tanaka has been mostly brilliant in the postseason since joining the Yankees.

They will need the right-hander to live up to his lofty standards again in Game 4 on Thursday in The Bronx if they are to have a realistic chance of coming back in this ALCS against the Astros. ...

"We're going to have to get some innings out of our starters, there's no question about it," [Aaron] Boone said Wednesday ... [B]etween [Masa] and [James] Paxton these next two days, they're going to need to give us some innings if we're going to be successful."

History says Tanaka will deliver. ...

With Paxton slated to start Game 5 and a potential bullpen game looming in Game 6, the pen will be counted on plenty.

It's up to Tanaka to put that off for one more day.

George A. King III, Post:
[T]his is what the Yankees' 2019 season comes down to: a must-win in a non-elimination situation.

That they have Masahiro Tanaka starting against Greinke has to inject a grown-up dose of confidence after Tanaka blanked the Astros and allowed one hit in Game 1 when he went six innings. In four postseason starts at Yankee Stadium, Tanaka is 3-1 with a 1.13 ERA. Overall he is 5-2 with a 1.32 ERA in seven postseason assignments. ...

Considering the amount of limp wood in the Yankees' lineup, Greinke might get away with the sins in Game 4 that he didn't in Game 1, when he allowed three runs and seven hits (two homers) in six innings.

Gary Sanchez has two hits in his past 21 at-bats and has struck out 10 times. Edwin Encarnacion is 1-for-18, Didi Gregorius 1-for-12, Brett Gardner 2-for-13 and Gio Urshela is 2-for-11. That is a combined 8-for-75 (.107).

The most disturbing member of the Dead Bat Society is Sanchez, but manager Aaron Boone ... praised the catcher for his defensive work while believing his bat will come alive. ... "I think that's right around the corner."

That corner has arrived and it's a hairpin deal labeled "Game 4" for not only Sanchez but everybody else in the Yankees' organization.

Kristie Ackert, Daily News:
Suddenly, the Yankees have to flip the entire script. Built around a power bullpen with the idea of working with an early lead behind their power bats, the Yankees are going into Game 4 ... having to lean heavily on their starting pitchers to get them out of a jam. ...

[T]he Yankees will now have Masahiro Tanaka — their most reliable postseason starter — set to go on regular rest ... James Paxton will get the Game 5 start.

The Yankees could have Luis Severino on regular rest for Game 6 on Saturday, but that leaves them with a bullpen game in a potential Game 7. ...

The Yankees starters posted the fifth fewest innings pitched, 778.1 in the regular season. The Astros starters pitched the fourth most in the majors with 907.1.

Tanaka is the only one of the Bombers' three starters who has pitched into the sixth inning this postseason. ...

Boone said he expects that he will be able to use relievers three, maybe four days in a row if needed.

"I think I definitely would do it. ... I would certainly be prepared to do that. ... I'm certainly open to them running out there every day."
Ken Davidoff, Post:
Maybe the 2004 Red Sox don't make history by overcoming an 0-3 American League Championship Series deficit against the Yankees without pushing their rivals' pitching staff for five straight days following a rainout of Game 3. ...

Whom does this unscheduled break help more? Let's lay out the prominent ripple effects and rank them by importance.

1. The Yankees benefit by getting to start their most trusted arm, Masahiro Tanaka, on normal rest for Game 4 ... Maybe Thursday marks Tanaka's first postseason start of eight in which he allows more than two runs. Do you want to bet against him, though? Didn't think so.

2. The Astros benefit because they rely far less on their relievers than do the Yankees, who now face the prospect of calling upon certain arms for four consecutive days. ...

3. The Yankees benefit by moving up the Game 6 pitching matchup to Game 5. Justin Verlander far outpitched James Paxton in Game 2 down South, and now that rematch will take place at the Stadium rather than Minute Maid. Paxton pitched better at home (3.35 ERA) than on the road (4.33) ... Verlander tallied a 2.82 ERA away and 2.34 at home ...
Wait. ... So, Ken, you're telling me - with a straight face - that Paxton's 3.35 ERA at home gives the Yankees the edge over Verlander's road ERA of 2.82? ... Dude. ... I don't even care about your other "effects".


George A. King III, Post:
According to a person familiar with the situation, the Yankees' coaches were upset with a whistle coming from the Houston dugout in Game 1 of the ALCS and believed it was part of a sign-stealing program the Astros have long been suspected of using at home.

The person confirmed an angry Yankees dugout let the Astros dugout know the team wasn't happy with the attempt to pilfer signs. ...

A person with an AL West team said the whistling is just one way the Astros convey swiped signs at Minute Maid Park. ...

The Yankees were so paranoid they had Gary Sanchez flash Masahiro Tanaka multiple signs in Game 1 with nobody on base after the Astros were suspected of stealing signs in a Game 5 win over the Rays at home in the ALDS.

Deesha Thosar, Daily News:
Aaron Boone went to bat for his catcher a day after Yankees fans booed Gary Sanchez off the field ...

Sanchez took a few practice hacks from the on-deck circle as Astros ace Gerrit Cole warmed up to begin the bottom of the sixth inning. The Yankees trailed Houston, 2-0, and the crowd was beginning to lose its patience with New York's underwhelming offense. And yet, with 12 outs remaining and the bottom of the Bombers' lineup due up, hope persisted.

But Sanchez struck out looking on six pitches to leadoff the sixth. An obvious sense of deflation shrouded the ballpark. That was Sanchez's sixth strikeout of the series, and 10th of the postseason. A barrage of boos followed Sanchez as he ambled, melancholic as ever, back into the Yankees dugout. ...

Boone emphatically rejected the idea of backup catcher Austin Romine earning a postseason start over Sanchez.
Dan Martin, Post:
Since his return from a strained groin, Sanchez closed out the regular season 1-for-6 with four strikeouts and is just 2-for-21 with three walks and 10 strikeouts in six playoff games. He's yet to drive in a run during the postseason and in his last two games against the Astros in the ALCS, he's hitless in nine at-bats with five strikeouts. ...

And he couldn't stop a Zack Britton wild pitch from getting by him with the bases loaded, leading to a run in the top of the seventh of his team's Game 3 loss Tuesday.

[Boone:] "[H]e's been excellent behind the plate from a game-calling standpoint, from a game-plan, target, receiving. ... I always feel like he's a pitch away or an at-bat away from really getting locked in ... I think that's right around the corner ..."
If Boone "always" feel Sanchez is a pitch away or an at-bat away, then what Boone actually believes is that Sanchez will never get right. He will, as Boone says, "always" be an at-bat away from busting out ... Which, with Gary Maniloaf, sounds about right.

Mike Vaccaro, Post:
A look at how playoff rainouts have affected the Yankees in subsequent playoff games since division play began in 1995: ...

Oct. 15, 2004, ALCS Game 3 vs. Red Sox at Fenway Park: There was no way of knowing it at the time, but this wound up as the most meaningful rainout in Yankees history. They were up 2-0 and went up 3-0 the next day, but the extra day off allowed Curt Schilling to heal up enough to pitch Game 6, and the lost travel day meant the Yankees had no viable option to start Game 7 as the Sox completed their historic comeback. ...

Schadenfreude 260 (A Continuing Series)

Tuesday morning: The ALCS is tied 1-1.


Before Game 3


They do ... ?


They don't!



ALCS Game 3

Astros  - 110 000 200 - 4  7  0
Yankees - 000 000 010 - 1  5  1


George A. King III, Post:
Yankees Doom Themselves In ALCS Game 3 Loss To Astros

When the Yankees and Astros were headed for each other in a postseason showdown of American League superpowers, a popular question being asked of the Yankees was a fair one:

"Who is going to beat Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole?"

Three games into the best-of-seven ALCS, the answer is: nobody.

And after the Yankees didn't take advantage of ... Cole on Tuesday, they may have wasted a chance that will cost them a trip to the World Series. ...

[T]hey now have to win three of four to return to the World Series for the first time since 2009.

Game 4 is scheduled for Wednesday, but with the amount of rain being predicted, Noah would be worried. If the game is postponed, it will be played Thursday, with Game 5 held on Friday. ...

The biggest scare the Yankees put into Cole during his seven-inning stint surfaced in the fifth, when Edwin Encarnacion halted an 0-for-16 slide with a two-out double and Torres walked.

Didi Gregorius, who offered at the first pitch in three of his four at-bats, gave the Yankees a chance by chasing Reddick to within a few feet of the right-field wall only to see the ball die for the third out with two runners on. ...

The two stranded runners upped the total to nine against Cole in five innings. During those five frames the Yankees went hitless in six at-bats with runners in scoring position. ...

DJ LeMahieu and Aaron Judge opened the home first with singles, but Gardner flied to short center and Encarnacion popped out. The threat gained momentum when Torres walked to load the bases, but died as Gregorius grounded out.

Judge whiffed with two on in the second and LeMahieu ended the fourth with a fly to center that stranded Gio Urshela and Aaron Hicks, who drew two-out walks from Cole.
Kristie Ackert, Daily News:
Yankees Showered With Boos In The Bronx

Adam Ottavino, Gary Sanchez and the Yankees heard it from the crowd Tuesday night. ... Sanchez, the bats and Ottavino continued their postseason slump Tuesday night as the Astros beat the Yankees 4-1 at Yankee Stadium.

The Yankees have lost two straight games ... [and] are now in a 2-1 hole in the best-of-seven series.

The frustration of a full Yankee Stadium was stoked by the fact that an offense which scored the most runs in baseball this season had Cole on the ropes Tuesday, but couldn't get a run off him. ...

In their two losses to the Astros, the Yankees were 1-for-9 with RISP and stranded 16. ...

Sanchez, who is now 1-for-13 in this series, and 2-for-22 with eight strikeouts in the postseason, took the brunt of the fans frustration when he was booed after striking out in the sixth inning. ...

[Sanchez:] "[H]opefully we'll get back on track."

There is limited time to get back on track ...

Ottavino, who gave up the game-tying home run in Game 2, was booed loudly because he could not hold the Astros to a 2-0 lead. ... Since Sept. 8, ... [he] has allowed six earned runs in 8.1 innings pitched. ...

Ottavino was one of the Yankees' big free-agent signings this past winter, with an eye towards having a shut-down bullpen in October. ... "I am just thinking about the next game and the next opportunity."

If Ottavino, Sanchez and the Yankees don't get on track there won't be many more of those opportunities in 2019.
Also: Brett Gardner is 2-for-13, Edwin Encarnacion and Didi Gregorius are both 1-for-12.

Ken Davidoff, Post:
Gerrit Cole Sends Yankees Into Their First Postseason Crisis

Well, it's pretty simple what the Yankees must do from here, right?

Go on a roll, or else it's Cole.

Unless the Yankees defeat the Astros, baseball's winningest team in 2019, in the next three American League Championship Series games, they can't reach ... [the] World Series ... without defeating (or at least outlasting) Gerrit Cole ... baseball's finest pitcher of the moment, in a do-or-die Game 7 on Sunday night at Minute Maid Park.

Of course, right now the Yankees probably would agree to that devil's bargain, as it would guarantee them not being eliminated by Game 7.

Welcome to the first crisis point of this Yankees postseason. ...

"Obviously, tonight [my] fastball command was a bit of a struggle ...," Cole said. "I know it will be better next time."

Just what the Yankees want to hear, right? Cole ... blanked the Yankees over seven innings despite walking a season-high five and permitting four hits. The Yankees placed runners in scoring position with two outs in four of the first five innings, and each time, Cole doused the fire. ...

The Yankees have problems, from Giancarlo Stanton's strained right quadriceps that benched him for a second straight game to Adam Ottavino's October implosion to Gary Sanchez looking more lost at the plate than Bobby and Cindy Brady did in the Grand Canyon. ...

[Cole] has now registered 25 straight starts without being charged with a loss, and the Astros have won Cole's last 15 starts.

Think the Yankees want to put their season on the line against those streaks? ...

The Yankees do not currently look like a team that can pull off such a preemptive strike, let alone topple the best arm in the game. And if they live up to that look, they'll be watching Cole pitch again, from their respective homes, in the Fall Classic.

Mike Vaccaro, Post:
Everything Has Changed In This Yankees-Astros War

The Yankees won Game 1 of this best-of-seven American League Championship Series. They led Game 2. They'd stolen home-field from the Astros, threatened to sweep them at Minute Maid Park …

And in what feels like an eyeblink, they're back where they started.

The Astros won Game 3 on Tuesday afternoon, 4-1, the Yankees done in by too much Gerrit Cole and by just enough Astros offense. ...

They surrendered home-field with this loss, and suddenly find themselves two games away from winter. That 2-1 lead on Sunday vanished with one hanging slider from Adam Ottavino to George Springer, and an awful lot has changed between then and now. None of it good for New York.

The Yankees certainly had their chances against Cole ... They got plenty of traffic against him, had multiple runners on against him in three of the first five innings.

But they couldn't cash any of it, despite four hits and five walks. Cole ... made big pitches every time he needed them: in the first, retiring Didi Gregorius with the bases loaded; in the second, striking out Aaron Judge with two aboard.

And then in the fifth, two on again after back-to-back two-out walks, Gregorius up, hunting for a pitch to drive, getting one, and clobbering it high and deep to right. ... [I]t backed Josh Reddick to the wall. Maybe Jeffrey Maier might have been able to help, but Maier is 35 years old now. Reddick caught it. The Astros kept their lead. ...

For the Yankees, a whiff of desperation — just a whiff, mind you — has begun to waft into the proceedings. They aren't necessarily entering must-win territory. But they're inching closer. A little too close for their comfort.


Joel Sherman, Post:
Yankees Must Bench Gary Sanchez, Demote Adam Ottavino

One day you win the ALCS opener in Houston, improve to 4-0 in this postseason, feel like a team riding a magic carpet. Blink twice and the Yankees are now down two games to one. ...

"... during the postseason you can have no patience," [Joe] Torre [once] said ...

Boone has to lose patience now. He has to bench Gary Sanchez and stop using Adam Ottavino in anything that resembles high leverage.

They were not the only reasons the Yankees lost 4-1 ... But they are hurting the Yankees too much to keep going with them. ...

Sanchez hardly is alone in offensive malfeasance. It is just that he has essentially been a postseason dud his whole career. He went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in Game 3. That makes him 1-for-11 with six whiffs in this ALCS, 2-for-21 with 10 strikeouts and without an extra-base hit in these playoffs and 16-for-92 with 34 strikeouts in his postseason totality.

He also failed to block what went for a Zack Britton wild pitch in the seventh inning. At this point, Boone has to ask if Austin Romine could be worse and just may be better? ...

That seventh inning was set up for failure by Ottavino. He entered with Houston ahead 2-0 after six innings and walked George Springer leading off. Then with Springer running, Altuve bounced a single to the vacated second base to put runners on first and third. Ottavino was removed, but the two runs scored. ...

Ottavino has now allowed nine of the 16 batters he faced to reach safely in these playoffs. ... Boone [keeps] insisting that the Yankees can't get where they want to go ... without Ottavino getting big outs.
Greg Joyce, Post:
Yankees' Gary Sanchez Struggling In More Than One Area

Boos rained down on Gary Sanchez as he took the lonely walk back to the dugout in the sixth inning Tuesday night.

The Yankees catcher had just struck out for the second straight at-bat, and by the end of his 0-for-4 night, he had fallen even deeper into his postseason slump ...

Sanchez has gone missing, to the tune of 2-for-21 with 10 strikeouts and three walks in these playoffs, failing to provide any kind of offense for a team in need of it against the stud pitching of the Astros. He was 1-for-8 with three walks in the Yankees' ALDS sweep of the Twins ...

Now, Sanchez's woes have entered the spotlight as one of the main culprits in a quiet offense. ...

As if Sanchez's bat wasn't frustrating Yankees fans enough, his defense came into play in the top of the seventh inning. With the bases loaded and one out, Zack Britton threw back-to-back sinkers in the dirt to Yuli Gurriel. The first one got past Sanchez, but didn't go far thanks to a deflection from home plate umpire Kerwin Danley. The second one evaded Sanchez's blocking again and went all the way to the backstop, allowing Jose Altuve to score from third base for the 3-0 Astros lead.
The New York papers have been pushing Luis Severino as a difference maker this postseason:

October 3, before the ALDS


October 14


So how did that "daunting challenge" go?

Oh.


Mark Fischer, Post:
Alex Rodriguez Leading Charge On Luis Severino Pitch-Tipping Conspiracy

Is Luis Severino tipping pitches again?

That's what Alex Rodriguez seemed to believe after the Yankees starter struggled in the first inning of Tuesday's ALCS Game 3 in The Bronx.

A-Rod broke down Severino's pitching on Twitter: 36 pitches; 18 fastballs; 18 secondary pitches; 11 swings on fastballs; five swings on off-speed pitches, no swings and misses.

"No chases on off-speed pitches," the former Yankee wrote. "If you look at Astros' hitters body language, this screams tipping." ...

The Yankees have a short leash on their starting pitchers, and the bullpen started heating up during the first inning. ...

Severino ... has a history of tipping pitches. In Game 3 of the ALDS last season, Severino gave up six runs in three innings in a 16-1 loss to the Red Sox. ...
Dan Martin, Post:
It took Luis Severino 97 pitches to get through 4.1 innings in the Yankees' 4-1 loss to the Astros in Game 3 of the ALCS on Tuesday.

He only regretted two of them.

"I made two bad pitches," Severino said of the solo homers he allowed to Jose Altuve and Josh Reddick. "Two bad sliders right down the middle to Reddick and Altuve. You can't miss location like that."

The right-hander also needed 36 pitches to get through a grueling top of the first. [Severino allowed one home run in the first, so I guess the other 35 pitches in that inning were not mistakes??] ...

Reddick opened the top of the second with a long homer to right to make it 2-0. Like Altuve's shot, it came off a slider, which was producing no swings and misses for Severino early on.

Mark Fischer, Post:
Mets pitcher Marcus Stroman seems to think the Yankees made a mistake by not acquiring him at the MLB trade deadline — at least according to his social media activity.

Stroman endorsed a series of tweets Tuesday night — during the Yankees' 4-1 loss to the Astros in Game 3 of the ALCS — that criticized the Yanks for not beefing up their starting rotation at the deadline.

"This is the series when the @Yankees regret not making a move to get a stud pitcher," wrote Pierce W. Huff in a tweet "liked" by Stroman. ...

One Twitter user mockingly replied to a highlight of Yankees starting pitcher Luis Severino giving up a home run Tuesday night with Cashman's reasoning for passing on Stroman.

Stroman "liked" that tweet as well.

October 14, 2019

Schadenfreude 259 (A Continuing Series)

ALCS Game 2
Yankees - 000 200 000 00 - 2  6  0
Astros  - 010 010 000 01 - 3  7  0





Kristie Ackert, Daily News:
It was a missed opportunity. Running into an out at home in the sixth, the truncated start of James Paxton and the chance to go home with a two-game lead over the Astros in the American League Championship Series.

Sunday night, the Yankees took a lead on Houston right-hander Justin Verlander but couldn't hold it and the Astros walked off a 3-2 win in the bottom of the 11th on Carlos Correa's lead-off home run. ...

This best-of-seven game series continues Tuesday night in the Bronx tied at one game a piece. ...

Verlander dueled with the Yankees bullpen after Paxton could not get out of the third inning. ... Verlander held the Yankees to two runs on five hits, striking out seven over 6.2 innings pitched. ...

It was converted starter J.A. Happ who gave up the home run to Correa.

But there had been so many missed opportunities before.

In the sixth inning with DJ LeMahieu getting a single of Verlander, Judge followed with a fly out to right field. After advancing on Gleyber Torres' single, LeMahieu tried to score on Brett Gardner's hard grounder off Jose Altuve's glove. Correa, however, had swooped in to back up Altuve and fired a strike that got LeMahieu at the plate. ...

It was costly, ending the Yankees' real threat against Verlander, but it was not the only missed chance that inning.

Mike Vaccaro, Post (early edition):
In some ways, the final moment was an inevitability: Carlos Correa taking a big hack at J.A. Happ's first pitch in the bottom of the 11th inning, sending it over the right-field wall, and sending the Astros and Yankees back to New York all tied up at a game apiece following this magnificent 3-2 baseball game.

Really, though, this started in the bottom of the third, when Yankees manager Aaron Boone removed James Paxton, beginning the domino effect of emptying his bullpen. Perhaps this would even be considered overmanaging if this wasn't exactly the way the Yankees have blueprinted these playoffs: Let the pen do the heavy lifting. ...

[But] Boone was forced to start CC Sabathia in the 10th, use three different pitchers in that inning, and rely on Happ for the 11th (and, had things worked out, a few innings more). ...

It was still 2-1 when Boone took one too many trips near the flame in the fifth inning. With one out, he removed Chad Green and inserted Adam Ottavino, and on Ottavino's first pitch, George Springer tied the game at 2-2 with a bomb of his own, to left field. ...

Verlander escaped trouble in the sixth when, with men on first and second and two outs, he induced Brett Gardner to hit a wicked grounder that second baseman Jose Altuve booted. But Correa scrambled to the ball and unleashed a perfect peg home that beat LeMahieu by a couple steps. Verlander would depart to a long ovation with two outs in the seventh.

Astros fans, waving their orange rally towels every time they had the chance, spent the rest of the night looking for one more thing to cheer about. In the 11th, they did.
Mike Vaccaro, Post:
It is harder to imagine a more perfect postseason baseball game than this one: tense and taut; two teams desperate for victory for different reasons; a howling, baying, pleading crowd that spent much of the night alternating between passing out and raining thunder.

It was more perfect for the Astros, of course. Carlos Correa made it that way in the bottom of the 11th inning, launching the first pitch he saw from J.A. Happ over the right-field wall, an opposite-field blast that gave Houston a 3-2 win ...

Boone will be criticized in certain circles because he pulled James Paxton in the third inning after he'd only gotten seven outs and allowed the Astros to take a 1-0 lead, Correa making the first of three game-changing plays he would collect this night, scoring a run with a double. ...

[The bullpen] wound up blowing up on them Sunday, when they ran out of their top-shelf relievers by the end of regulation, when they needed three pitchers to escape the 10th, when they handed the game over to Happ, who has been exiled from the rotation to a low-leverage bullpen role for a reason. ...

In the top of the 11th, the Yankees returned the favor, got two on with two outs. Josh James engaged in an epic at-bat with Gary Sanchez that included just about everything: a towering pop-up that hit the roof; a swing-and-a-miss for strike three that home-plate umpire Carey Blaser insisted had been foul-tipped (it hadn't); then a borderline call for strike three with which Sanchez took issue.

Five minutes later Happ threw, Correa swung, the ball soared into the right-field bleachers, and an almost perfect game had ended perfectly — for everyone but the nine men in gray walking off the field.

Joel Sherman, Post:
The Yankees won Game 1 and that was as close to vital as openers in a playoff series get. ...

The Yanks were still going to have to win at least one game started by the pitchers who will finish 1-2 in the AL Cy Young voting. Verlander and Cole can start four times in this series and the math is simple — if Houston wins the games they start, it will advance to the World Series for the second time in three years, no matter what occurs in the other three games.

In 2017, the Yankees had to contend with just Verlander and that was too much. ... Now, he has Cole as co-star, co-pilot and co-ace. ...

Meanwhile, Aaron Boone pulled James Paxton after just seven outs, forcing a chain of the Yankee manager's trusted relievers to get through nine innings. The problem was the game went extra innings.

Boone used CC Sabathia, his first outing since Sept. 24, to get one out in the 10th and the Yanks survived Jonathan Loaisiga ... walking the only two men he faced. J.A. Happ — the Yankees' ninth pitcher — escaped that mess. But Carlos Correa homered on the first pitch of the 11th inning. ...

The ALCS is now tied one game apiece. Cole lurks in Game 3.

Game 1 suddenly seemed long ago.
Dan Martin, Post:
James Paxton had only allowed one run when manager Aaron Boone motioned to the bullpen to summon Chad Green in the bottom of the third in Game 2 of the ALCS.

Paxton ... had a succinct reaction when he saw his manager coming to get him: "Crap."

It was Paxton's second straight shaky postseason start. He gave up four hits in 2.1 innings to put the Yankees in a 1-0 hole to the Astros before the bullpen took over ...

The brief outing followed Paxton's playoff debut in the ALDS, when he gave up three runs in 4.2 innings in a Game 1 win over Minnesota.

And it was Paxton's second rough start of the year in Houston, where he allowed five runs in four innings in an April 10 loss. ...

Paxton and Boone were confident he wasn't tipping his pitches on Sunday, though Fox cameras during the game showed Bregman telling his teammates "glove" during the game.
Kristie Ackert, Daily News:
Aroldis Chapman needed 25 pitches to get through the ninth, four shy of his season high, which signaled the end of the Yankees' bullpen script.

So Aaron Boone turned to CC Sabathia, who had been shut down during the ALDS with a shoulder issue. Sabathia got left-handed hitter Michael Brantley to ground out, before the Yankee manager went to Jonathan Loaisiga. The right-hander walked Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman before Boone went to J.A. Happ, who got out of the 10th inning unscathed.

But the converted starter would not get out of the 11th. ...

When James Paxton didn't have command early, Boone pulled him after just 2.1 innings. ...

The lefty just simply could not command his fastball.

The Astros made him work hard. He threw 51 pitches in 2.1 innings work.
George A. King III, Post:
Giancarlo Stanton wasn't in the lineup for Game 2 against Cy Young candidate Justin Verlander. ... [He] was held out of the starting lineup with a right quadriceps strain, which was revealed in an MRI exam.

Boone said Stanton suffered the strain running to first base on a second-inning single. ...

If Stanton doesn't respond to treatment and rest, there is a possibility he could be dropped from the ALCS roster and be replaced, possibly by Luke Voit. Should that happen, Stanton wouldn't be eligible to play in the World Series ...
Ken Davidoff, Post:
Just when Giancarlo Stanton was changing his pinstriped narrative, he fell back into an old habit.

Not striking out too much. Getting injured too much.

In one sense, it actually served as progress for the $325 million man that his absence from the Yankees' lineup for Sunday night's American League Championship Series Game 2 — due to an ailing right quad — appeared to generate more concern than relief among the team's fan base. ...

It's not a matter of whether he'll hurt the team's vibe with his anxious-looking at-bats, as certainly occurred in last year's AL Division Series loss to the Red Sox. It's how much the Yankees can even count on Stanton over this postseason and the next eight. ...

The Stanton cloud over the Yankees ain't going anywhere. It'll be waiting for you whenever you're ready to talk about it.