Yankees score vs. Astros: Houston returns to World Series as New York season ends with AL Championship Series sweep

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NEW YORK — For the fourth time in the last six years, the Houston Astros are champions of the American League. On Sunday night, the Astros wrapped up their authoritative American League Championship Series sweep of the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium (HOU 6, NYY 5). It’s the third time in the last six years and the fourth time in the last eight years that the Astros have eliminated the Yankees in the postseason.

The Astros couldn’t stifle the Yankees’ offense like they did in Games 1-3, and instead had to come back from an early 3-0 deficit in Game 4. Starting pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. bent but didn’t break for complete, and the Astros hung on long enough. until they were able to capitalize on another Yankees defensive blunder. Houston outscored the Yankees 18-9 in the four games.

The Philadelphia Phillies dispatched the San Diego Padres in Game 5 of the NL Championship Series early Sunday, so the World Series matchup is set. It’s Astros vs. Phillies beginning Friday, October 28 in Houston. Here are five takeaways from Sunday’s Game 4.

1. The Yankees struck first

With five batters in Game 4, the Yankees matched their hit total from Game 3. Harrison Bader led off the inning with a single to center, Anthony Rizzo threw a pitch to the toe, then Giancarlo Stanton hit an RBI single to right field. . Gleyber Torres drove in a second run with a bloop in no man’s land to right-center field, giving the Yankees a 2-0 lead. Three hits in the first inning of Game 4 after three hits in Game 3.

New York added a third run in the second inning, when Rizzo grounded out of reach of Alex Bregman at third base. The two-out hit drove in Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who doubled to lead off the inning. The Yankees were in danger of wasting that opening double before Rizzo arrived. He was New York’s most consistent hitter in the postseason.

Prior to the opening 3-0 lead in Game 4, the Yankees hadn’t held a lead in the American League Championship Series since Bader’s solo homer in the second inning in Game 1. That lead lasted six batters. . In fact, the Yankees and Astros had played 10 games this year before Game 4, and those were the only six batters to come to the plate with New York leading. (Both of their regular-season wins over Houston were playoffs.)

2. Cortés was injured and gave up the lead

Clearly something was wrong with Néstor Cortés in the third inning. His command faltered in the first and second innings, but he zeroed the scoreboard, then led off the third inning with back-to-back walks. Not only was his control failing, but Cortes lost speed on his fastball. This is a red flag:

Manager Aaron Boone and the coach came out to talk to Cortes and it was a quick chat. Cortes told them he was fine, he stayed in the game, then a few pitches later he hit a game-tying three-run homer to Jeremy Pena. Thus, New York’s 3-0 lead vanished and Cortes was out of the game after another visit from Boone and the coach. The Yankees say it’s a left groin injury, and during an in-game interview with TBS, Boone said Cortes had dealt with it since his first postseason start.

Needless to say, stick with an injured pitcher: The Yankees have access to the same live velocity data as we do and surely knew Cortes’s heater was low and he wasn’t locating, on a win or go basis. The home game was a questionable decision at best. Of course, the player will say that he is healthy and can stay in the game. Everybody does. It’s up to the coach and coaches to do more than listen to the player and make the best decision for the team, and Boone didn’t do that by leaving Cortes.

Still, with the score tied and the season on the line, the Yankees opted for left-hander Wandy Peralta, one of their most trusted arms. It was only the third inning, but half the order was almost up, and this was no time to play minor relievers. Unfortunately, Peralta allowed hits to three of the next four batters, and the Astros took a 4-3 lead. One of the three was a comeback that hit him on the right wrist, just above the glove.

Cortes missed about three weeks with the same injury in late August and early September. The Yankees have no more games to play, but losing Cortes would have been a devastating blow had they kept their season alive. It’s also good news that it’s not an arm injury. That would have been a tough way for the man they call Nasty Nestor to end his breakout season.

3. Rizzo and Bader gave the Yankees another lead

The Yankees didn’t go quietly after blowing a 3-0 lead and falling behind 4-3. In the fourth, Bader and Rizzo built a run with a single, a pass and another single to tie the game. Then, in the sixth, Bader broke the tie and gave the Yankees a 5-4 lead with a long, loud solo home run to left field. To the action pictures:

That was Bader’s fifth home run of the postseason. He hit five home runs in 86 regular-season games, all with the Cardinals before being traded to the Yankees at the trade deadline. The five home runs tie him for the fourth-most by a Yankee in a single postseason. Only Bernie Williams (1996), Alex Rodríguez (2009) and Giancarlo Stanton (2020) had more. They each had six. Williams threw out the ceremonial first pitch before Game 4, coincidentally.

Bader and Rizzo were 5-for-8 in Game 5. The rest of the Yankees were 1-for-28. Not saying much, but those two led the Yankees’ offense in the ALCS. They just had little or no help. Two players won’t win you a postseason series, especially against a team like Houston.

4. The Yankees made another crucial mistake

You have to play almost flawless baseball to beat the Astros, and the Yankees have done just the opposite. In Game 4, Bader and Aaron Judge miscommunicated on a routine fly ball, turning an easy out into a baserunner. The next batter hit a two-run homer to give the Astros a 2-0 lead and all the runs they would need.

The misplay in Game 5 was even more damaging. After José Altuve hit an infield single to put the tying run on base with one out in the seventh inning, Peña rolled a potential double-play grounder 4-6-3, but the Yankees converted it to zero outs. Gleyber Torres ran the feed to second base and Kiner-Falefa ran into the bag awkwardly and couldn’t make the catch. Torres made the mistake but both guys screwed up. Feeding was rushed but in the bag, and still failed.

Naturally, the Astros tied the game on the next pitch. Yordan Alvarez grounded out to the right side of the infield to tie things up at 5-5, then Bregman singled to right to give the Astros a 6-5 lead. Giving Houston four outs in one inning (the Yankees essentially gave them five outs in that inning) is a good way to lose a series.

Jonathan Loáisiga did a heroic job before being betrayed by his defense, retiring seven of the eight batters he faced without a ball leaving the infield. The only runner allowed was Altuve’s infield single, which had to be checked because he was so close. The Astros’ bullpen allowed only Bader’s home run in four otherwise flawless innings. The last 10 Yankees to bat after Bader’s home run got outs. And that’s a rundown of the 2022 Yankees.

5. next

The World Series. It will be Astros vs. Phillies when the Fall Classic begins on Friday, October 28 in Houston. We have to wait four days without baseball until then. Presumably, Justin Verlander (18-4, 1.75 ERA) and Aaron Nola (11-13, 3.25 ERA) will get the ball in Game 1, though the Phillies could bring back NLCS Game starter Zack Wheeler (12 -7, 2.82 ERA). usual rest.

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