New York Yankees vs Houston Astros Game 4 of the ALCS: reactions and takeaways
From a strange decision on their pitcher to another inexplicable error, the Yankees never managed to get a foothold in the series.
Though the pin stripes made a game of it, they weren’t able to fend off Houston’s surge and, in the end, fell to the Astros in four games.
The Astros sweep the Yankees to book World Series place
If you were in any doubt as to the dominance of the Houston Astros, this is the fourth time in the last six years that they have been crowned American League Champions. Think about that. On Sunday night, the Astros completed their sweep of the New York Yankees in the ALCS and with that, are now on their way to the 2022 World Series. It has to be said, that with a final score of 6-5 it was not the easiest game for the Astros. Indeed, the Yankees came out firing and got off to a 3-0 lead, but in could only watch in disappointment as the Astros rallied to come from behind and finally close out the game.
With their win, the Astros have now eliminated the Yankees in the postseason on three occasions in the last six years and believe it or not, four in the last eight. As for how it all went down, credit has to be given to starter Lance McCullers Jr. who at times seemed to be capitulating, but ultimately held his nerve to keep the Astros on track. Houston will now face the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series, after they dismissed the San Diego Padres in Game 5 of the NLCS earlier in the day. As for what we learned about the Astros in Game 4 of their series, let’s take a look:
The Yankees went down fighting
If there is one thing we can say about the Yankees in Game 4, it’s that they put up a fight. Harrison Bader opened with a single to center, followed by Anthony Rizzo who got hit on the foot by a pitch. Then there was Giancarlo Stanton who sent an RBI single zinging to the right and Gleyber Torres who brought in the second run with an awkward hit into shallow right-center. With that, the Yankees were up 2-0 and just five batters in. To be clear that was three hits in Game 4′s first inning compared with three hits in the entirety of Game 3.
Their third run came off of a Rizzo hit that Alex Bregman on third just couldn’t reach. Indeed, Rizzo was probably the Yankees most dependable hitter across the entire post season. Were it not for his hit when they were on a two-out count, the game would have probably gone the way of the others much sooner. Ultimately, Rizzo was able to bring Isiah Kiner-Falefa home and with that they were 3-0 up. It’s worth noting, that it was the first time the Yankees had led in the series since Bader hit a second inning solo home run back in Game 1.
What happened to Nestor Cortes?
One thing that was clear in Game 4 is that Nestor Cortes was not himself and especially in the third inning. Though he got the outs in the first and second, one could see that his command was beginning to waver. Then, in the third we could see that the speed of his fastball began to decline. At that point, manager Aaron Boone and the trainer came out to the mound for a brief chat. Cortes apparently reassured them that he was good to go and stayed in the game. Fine, he was not and that was witnessed just a few pitches later, when gave up a game-tying three-run homer to Jeremy Peña. Lead gone, Boone and the trainer approached again, Cortes pulled and the Yankees now facing a problem. Apparently, Cortes was suffering from a left groin injury, something Boone recently said he’s been struggling with since the postseason started.
Whatever the case, the decision to stick with an injured pitcher most definitely back fired and there are likely some serious questions being asked behind closed doors right now. The Yankees needed to win, if they were going to keep their season alive. Surely that wasn’t the smartest choice. Should Cortes take the hit for not putting the team first and insisting that he was fine, or is it the manager who should have the presence of mind to see what the team needs? Either way the Yankees will now have some time to reflect on that. Perhaps, the only thing that will give cover to the scenario is the fact that Cortes’ replacement, lefty Wandy Peralta came in and gave up hits to three of the next four batters. Just like that the Astros were 4-3 up. Perhaps the silver lining here, is that with their season now over, the Yankees don’t have to face the possibility of playing in the World Series without their best pitcher.
Again with the errors! The Yankees paid for their mistakes
If you were with us after the last game, you will remember that we mentioned that the Astros are the last team you want to play untidy baseball against. Indeed, if you don’t bring you’re A-game when playing Houston, you probably won’t survive. Unfortunately, that’s just not something the Yankees ever managed to do. You will recall the way in which Bader and Judge’s miscommunication in Game 3 cost them. If you can believe it, things were even worse in Game 4. Let’s break it down: Jose Altuve had just beat out an infield single to put the tying run on base with one out in the seventh. Peña then rolled a potential 4-6-3 double play grounder, but the Yankees - incredibly – could not get a single out. Gleyber Torres rushed his throw to second base and Kiner-Falefa who clumsily crossed the bag, couldn’t make the catch. In the end Torres was tagged with the error, but in truth both players are at fault.
From there, the Astros tied the game on the next pitch. Like we said, no room for error against these guys. Yordan Alvarez poked a grounder through the right side of the infield to tie the game at 5-5, then Bregman laced a single to right to give the Astros a 6-5 lead. Essentially, with the four outs that the Yankees gifted the Astros, they pretty much served up the game and series on a platter.
The Yankees will now have some questions to answer, including what Aaron Judge’s future with the team looks like. The Astros on the other hand, head off to the World Series where they will face the Philadelphia Phillies starting on Friday, October 28th.
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