The Yankees, as they packed their bags for the winter, believed that the ninth inning Tuesday night would be one of their comebacks. Because they did it so often, over 49,000 of their fans were waiting for Gary Sanchez or Gleyber Torres to hit the home run ball.
But they failed to hit the long ball. And in these last two games of their season at Yankee Stadium, they failed to hit the home run ball. The Red Sox, in their two wins in the Bronx that clinched the ALDS, taught the Yankees something about baseball.
Don’t depend on the home run ball and the Boston Red Sox did everything right again to get the necessary runs in their decisive 4-3 win. Winning manager Alex Cora came out of the victorious Red Sox clubhouse and embraced Aaron Boone his rookie counterpart.
“Credit to them for being able to hold us down and shut us down,” Boone said. “But in the end, you don’t move on, usually when you can’t get enough big hits in a series and they just outplayed us a little bit.”
And that is the issue here with the Yankees. They were outplayed and out managed. Aaron Boone could be faulted for the bullpen decisions, and the lineup changes, but that wasn’t the difference. Even at the end, as the Yankees made one of their late game comebacks, once again it was their inability and inconsistency of producing runs without the benefit of a long ball.
“We thought we were going to comeback and win,” Luke Voit said. That home run ball from Voit was not a factor. Neither was it a factor from Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and a Yankees team that set a Major League record this season in hitting that home run ball.
A failure, yes for the Yankees. They regressed this year because last season it was the unexpected output from the youngsters that got them one game from reaching the World Series.
So, and unexpectedly, the Yankees packed to go home. It seemed they were destined to get the walk-off win and head to Boston Thursday night at Fenway Park for a decisive fifth game in this series with their rivals.
“Disappointment, either way a loss is a loss,” Stanton said. “Build from this season for next year.” They said their season was a grind and they came up short.
“Short of out goal,” Aaron Judge said. That goal, as always, get to the World Series and win it all. But the Yankees will go home and watch the four teams left to stand and battle it out. Red Sox and the Astros are two good teams that can teach them a lesson or two about baseball. That includes pitch well, play good defense, sacrifice, bunt, small ball.
Hit and run, steal a base? That was not the Yankees in 2018 or in the postseason. And when they tried they failed. It was the home run they depended on and it failed.
Heck even the fans were looking for that dramatic long ball from Sanchez, who by the way had a good final at bat and made closer Craig Kimbrel work before hitting a deep sacrifice fly to left that scored a run.
But they came up a run short and for a team that won 100 games, and the AL wild card, it’s back to the drawing board. Later this week, GM Brian Cashman will have his exit meeting with the media. Those are the same old remarks of we are disappointed and need to go that step further.
This time it will have nothing to do with the manager. Aaron Boone was Cashman’s choice. Rookie mistakes from the dugout, yes there were many. Wrong moves in the five postseason games? Yes there are questions and Aaron Boone will analyze what could have been better.
But the answer was in that Yankees clubhouse and not the fault of this manager. He will return and again the performance of the manager is as good as the players. Joe Torre always said that during those Yankees championship years and he had the talent to finish the job.
The home run ball was not contingent on the Yankees winning and for their success under the Joe Torre era. But it was the long ball and a team constructed for Aaron Boone to do that. It will not work again next year if the Yankees want to be the other team taking that extra step.
“Do we need to be better? Of course, obviously,” said Boone. “I mean, I don’t know how to answer that question as far as it wasn’t good enough. So we need to be better, simple as that.”
And with that, as Alex Cora and his Red Sox left the building, the Yankees will begin the process. The entire lineup failed but that does not diminish their success of reaching the postseason again. Except, this season, the Yankees are not as good as the Red Sox, or the Astros, two teams that know something about situational hitting.
“We will learn from this,” Miguel Andujar said. The impending AL Rookie of the Year had a learning experience and Gleyber Torres also will learn from this. Gary Sanchez is expected to turn it around next year.
Stanton, with the 0-for-4 night and a strikeout. He was the disappointment, 0-for-6 and six strikeouts with runners in scoring position. Overall, the bullpen was fine and needs those few adjustments.
“Like I’ve been saying all along, we’re a complete team,” Cora said. “And we count on everybody to win games.” The Yankees were not that type of team and it was obvious in this series with the Red Sox.
Let this be a lesson learned. The Yankees are smart enough to know, winning is not all contingent on hitting the home run ball.
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