In game three of the ALDS between the Yankees and Indians on Sunday night, Aaron Judge rose from the warning track in right field like the hero “He-Man, Master of the Universe,” to make a catch and steal a home run from Francisco Lindor.
The blow would have given the Indians a 2-0 lead in the sixth inning, however the catch kept the game scoreless. More importantly, it lit a fire under the butts of these young Yankee pups. They went on to win 1-0 and looked like the “baby bombers” that gave opposing teams fits in 2017. Could they keep that fire going against an Indian starter who dominated them in game one of this series? Could Luis Severino turn around a disastrous playoff start vs the Twins last Tuesday and keep the Yankees alive?
In game four, Cleveland starter Trevor Bauer had the “dipsy doodle” knuckle curve and sharp cutter that he showed in game one of the series, but the Yankee hitters looked more patient and focused as they laid off the pitches that were out of the strike zone. Seeing Bauer for the second time in four days worked in the Yanks favor as they scored four runs and chased the right hander in the second inning. The eccentric Indian pitcher was last seen flying a drone over the Macombs Dam Bridge in search of an out.
In the meantime, on a rain soaked field in the Bronx, Severino just mowed down the Indian hitters in this do or die game. He became more and more confident with that four run cushion and was not afraid to throw that nasty slider and power fastball that had a lot of life. It showed why he was one of the top three starters in the American League this year.
Severino with a line of 3 runs, 4 hits, 1 walk, 2 home runs and 9 strikeouts over 7 innings, gave the Yankees exactly what they needed. He was throwing 100 mph fastballs for strikes in the seventh inning and finished with 113 total pitches.
The 23-year old has always been able to throw a ball through a brick wall and now he’s consistently been able to throw with command. The next hurdle was to pitch well and win a big game. Getting beat like he did against the Twins probably taught him a very valuable lesson. His teachers have been CC Sabathia and Masahiro Tanaka. Severino got a chance to see how it was done by these two mentors in their last two starts and now it looks like he’s
And kudos to New Jersey native Todd Frazier. He’s beginning to remind us of another Yankee third baseman, Scott Brosius. Frazier started that four run inning and scored 2 runs with a double and RBI.
Aaron Judge got his first hit of the series, a line drive double, off of the left field wall, that scored two runs and put the game away. The Yankees need to get a permit for this kid from the FDNY so he doesn’t get arrested for starting all these fires in the Bronx. He is by far the MVP of the Yankees this year and maybe the American League MVP as well. Oh, lest we forget, a lock for Rookie of the Year.
So off to Cleveland we go with both teams now in a one game, winner take all, that has a delicious starting match up with Sabathia facing off for a second time in the series against Cory Kluber. Two Cy Young award winning pitchers who both won the award while pitching for Cleveland.
CC would love to beat his old team in this big game as his career winds down, but Kluber also has something to prove. He got rocked in game two and there’s the memory of last year’s World Series where he gave up four runs in four innings of work.
An unfortunate twist (excuse the pun) of fate that could hurt the Indians is the loss of power hitting DH Edwin Encarnacion who is still nursing a bad ankle injury. It will be hard to replace the 38 home runs and 107 RBI’s, not to mention the protection he provided by hitting behind Jose Ramirez who is struggling in this series to the tune of a .118 batting avg. (2 hits in 17 AB’s, 0 HRS, 0 RBI’s)
The Yankees looked dead after the first two games but with this fire burning in their bellies, they’re not done yet. It has been said that: “From the Ashes of Disaster Grow the Roses of Success.” Lets hope the fire keeps burning for another few weeks this year.