The New York Yankees fell to the Houston Astros 3-2 in the 11th inning on Sunday night in game two of the ALCS. The Bombers started off the contest with a Judgian blast, which gave them a 2-1 lead; however, right fielder for the Astros, George Springer, took advantage of a bad Aaron Boone mistake.
After starter James Paxton was pulled from the game after just 2.1 innings, relief option Chad Green dominated for two innings, allowing zero walks and striking out two batters. Boone elected to pull him in the fourth inning with two outs in favor of Adam Ottavino, who was stellar during the regular season.
The very first pitch Ottavino threw resulted in a long home run that tied the game at two apiece. Faulting Boone for this consequence of changing pitchers is an easy excuse, but the lack of offense was the primary cause of the unfortunate loss.
The New York Yankees offense was awful in game two:
Catcher Gary Sanchez went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts, not to mention Edwin Encarnacion and Brett Gardner’s combined five strikeouts. The middle of the order accounted for eight of twelve Ks on the night, an unacceptable rate that must change if the Yankees are to take back the lead at home in the Bronx.
The Yankees will face off against Gerrit Cole in game three on Tuesday afternoon, and that might be the biggest challenge yet in their quest to reach the World Series. Cole had a 2.50 ERA during the regular season, and during the playoffs, he is sitting at 0.57 over two starts. He has only allowed six hits over 15.2 innings. Beating him will require a much better effort from the offense, and Yankees ace Luis Severino will need to match his quality at home.
Ultimately, it will likely boil down to the bullpen and which unit can weather the storm better. The Bombers did a decent job in game two, but pitching is only half of the battle.