You didn’t think this would be easy. Did you?
And today, the Yankees learned first-hand, why the Astros were the best team in baseball.
Gerrit Cole manhandled the Yankee lineup for seven innings and it was enough to give Houston a 4-1 win in Game 3 of the ALCS.
“It’s a lot of what I’ve seen this entire year,” said Astros manager A.J. Hinch. “He’s exceptional. And he gets better and better and better.
“I actually think the beginning of the game he had a hard time finding his stuff and finding his tempo, his rhythm. He was still getting through his outing, made some really big pitches, had some pressure on him. Then once he found his curveball it was pretty lights out. I think he finished his outing as strong as ever.”
Listen, this series isn’t over, but there are clear lines drawn between the Astros and the Bombers. And good starting pitching trumps all other strengths. Houston has it. The Yankees do not.
“We’re going to need some length,” said manager Aaron Boone. “And (Luis Severino) did get us into the fifth today and Masa six the first game. So really, it’s one short outing that we had ahead of an off day.
“But confident that our starters can give us that. Obviously one of these days we’ll kind of bullpen it and have to go that way. But I’m confident that they can get us deeper into the game.”
And despite a great bullpen, the Yankees need to get some length from their starters. Luis Severino’s 4.1 innings tonight was just not good enough. Sure, other assorted arms in the pen can get outs, but you only need one to be off his game. In Game 2, J. A. Happ gave up the walk off homer to Carlos Correa and tonight Adam Ottavino handed two runs to the Astros.
It was enough for a game, set, match.
Unfortunately, there’s not much the Yankees can do at this juncture. They can’t call over to Queens to get Jacob deGrom on loan, so the Bombers need to ride their bullpen. If the weather holds up tomorrow, look for a bullpen game from them. It could work, but it may also blow up in their faces.
But, deep down inside, the Yankees may be praying for a rainout, so they can just start Masahiro Tanaka on Thursday, instead of having that bullpen game.
This soft underbelly is showing now. Back in 2016, the Cubs paid a very dear price for their World Series title and you see him at second base everyday in the Bronx. Even with breaking the drought, seeing Gleybar Torres becoming a generational cornerstone for the Yankees must sting, especially after watching Aroldis Chapman take the trip back east after that series.
General manager Brian Cashman wasn’t going to pay the high premiums that teams put on the Yankees to deal with them. He sat back and watched as the Mets acquired Marcus Stroman, the Reds get Trevor Bauer and even Zack Greinke went to the Astros. (No, he wouldn’t have come to the Bronx, but still).
However, Cashman sat on his hands and watched as his team racked up 103 wins during the regular season and then swept the Twins in the ALDS.
But now the JV portion of the schedule is over and have to matchup with the Astros with Cole, Greinke and Justin Verlander. And if they Bombers do survive this then it looks like a date with the Nationals and their Cy Young contending three.
All of this means, is that if there was a price to pay at the deadline, the Yankees should have just paid it and brought a front-line starter into the fold.
We are seeing, they are not going to win on Tanaka alone.
Not against this team.
Or the next one.