The Yankees are down 2-0 in the American League Championship Series but don’t buy that line that “they have ‘em just where they want ‘em” because this deficit is a “whole different animal” than the hole they climbed out of against Cleveland.
Some negative trends from the regular season have re-surfaced in the post season. It’s not like “trending” on Twitter. Those negative trends have come back to haunt the Yankees in Houston the past two days.
The Yankee offense was less productive on the road than at home. They scored 44 less runs and gave up 30 more. They also hit 39 fewer home runs on the road than at the friendly dimensions at Yankee Stadium. There’s no denying that the Astros’ starting pitching has been superb but the Yankees’ inability to manufacture runs is part of the reason they’ve had a season long struggle with one run games.
The Yankees have already dropped a pair of one-run games in this series and that goes right along with their poor record in one run decisions during the season when they went 18-26.
Since the Yankees qualified as a Wild Card team, they were going to have to improve their road play. Remember, they only won one road game at Cleveland. They’ve now put themselves in a position where they will possibly have to win two road games to win the series if they don’t sweep the three home games.
Both teams have had limited scoring opportunities in the first two games. Houston has taken advantage of theirs, while the Yankees have not.
Coming into the playoffs, I felt the Yankees could not afford to make base running mistakes. Thanks to Jose Altuve, the Astros have dominated the bases both on offense and defense.
Altuve set up Houston’s first run in game one with a single. He then stole second to put him into position to score on Carlos Correa’s RBI single.
In game one, it was left fielder Marwin Gonzalez throwing out Greg Bird at home to snuff out a run in the fifth. That proved to be a huge play as the Yankees lost by a run.
The game winning play can and will be dissected in so many different ways but the bottom line is the Yankees didn’t execute on defense when they had their chance to do so. Didi Gregorius’ throw home short hopped catcher Gary Sanchez who couldn’t handle it as Altuve crossed the plate with the winning run. There was a thought that Correa interfered with the throw but Gregorius held himself accountable. “I’m not gonna put it on him,” he said to reporters.
In game two, a base running mistake arguably cost the Yankees again. With two out and no one on in the third, Brett Gardner hit a bullet down the right field line for an extra base hit. With Yankees third base coach Joe Espada waving him on for some reason, Gardner tried to get to third and was thrown out as the Astros executed a perfect relay. “In hindsight, we probably should’ve held him up,” Yankee Manager Joe Girardi said at the post game media session.
The Yankees cannot continue to have this happen if they hope to advance. Let’s not forget Ronald Torreyes getting picked off at second in the 11th inning of game two of the ALDS.
It’s not like the Astros haven’t thrown out the Yankee runners on the bases before. Go back to May 11th at the Stadium. In the last of the ninth, Houston left fielder Jake Marisnick threw out Jacoby Ellsbury as the potential tying run at the plate to end the game.
They have to make better decisions on the base paths.
The Yankees were optimistic they could hit Houston’s bullpen but in the two games, the Astros have only used their relief corps for two innings. They’ll have to find a way in game three to exploit what is supposed to be Houston’s weakness.
Going into game three, the Yankees have some things to “hang their Yankee top hat on.”
The fact that the Yankees did comeback against the Indians will fuel them heading into game three but they’ll need to continue their outstanding play in the Bronx. Including games 3 and 4 of the Divisional Series, the Yankees have won 16 of their last 20 home games.
The Yankee pitching has been outstanding as they’ve only given up four runs in two games and that’s with Altuve and Correa producing. Maybe the Yankees will have better results with those two in New York, but it’s imperative that they continue to get good pitching.
The Yankees have proven they can take a punch to the gut but can they get off the canvas one more time. There’s great theater ahead.