About the Playoffs: The Yankees Lost to the Guardians 6-5 in Walk-Off Fashion
by Tim Kabel
October 16, 2022
The Yankees lost another playoff game they should have won yesterday. They were winning the game 5-3 in the 9th inning. They needed to win the game.
Cleveland used a combination of lucky, bloop hits and good hits to score three runs in the ninth inning and win the game. This was a gut-wrenching loss. The Yankees are now on the verge of elimination from the playoffs. They must beat the Guardians tonight and Monday to advance. Their backs are against the wall. The Yankees have no more tomorrows.
Giancarlo Stanton had hit a home run in nine of his last twelve playoff games heading into last night's game.
When Aaron Judge hit his home run in the third inning, it was the first time in this series that he came up with a runner on base.
Gleyber Torres, Anthony Rizzo, Giancarlo Stanton, Josh Donaldson, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, and Kyle Higashioka were a combined zero for twenty-one with two walks.
On yesterday's date in 1975, Luis Tiant threw 163 pitches in a 5-4 victory over the Cincinnati Reds in the World Series. Let me repeat that, 163 Pitches. Remember that.
The Big Story:
Let me start off by saying that I like Oswaldo Cabrera very much. The way he hits reminds me of Alfonso Soriano, in the manner that he uncoils on the ball. I think he will have a very solid career, hopefully with the Yankees. I feel the same way about Clarke Schmidt. What I am about to write is not a criticism of these two players. Cabrera had a double and a huge two-run home run. Since he has joined the Yankees, he has shown tremendous effort, enthusiasm, and a willingness to play everywhere. He works extremely hard at his craft. Until he came up to the major leagues, he had only played a handful of games in the outfield. He has made himself into a good outfielder. However, he is still a work in progress.
During the regular season, Oswaldo Cabrera was frequently pulled from games in the late innings for defensive replacements. Playoff games are much more important than regular season games. Why are Aaron Hicks and Tim Locastro on the playoff roster if they are not going to be used in that role. I am not blaming Oswaldo Cabrera for the loss. I am simply saying that as good as he has been, and as important as he was in last night's game, he is still not as experienced an outfielder as either Hicks or Locastro. If the manager set a precedent of replacing Cabrera late in games for defense during the regular season, why wouldn't he do it in the playoffs?
Similarly, I think Clarke Schmidt has shown tremendous ability this season. Although he had two saves in the regular season, they were the three-inning variety. He had never been called on to pitch the 9th Inning with runners on. He may eventually do that very well. He may turn into a magnificent closer. However, he is not one now. He was not awful last night. He didn't walk people or implode. He made a great effort but lost. That happens.
Experimenting is not something you do in the playoffs. Remember, Aaron Boone did not feel confident bringing Schmidt into the game in the 10th inning on Friday. He brought in Jameson Taillon, who had never pitched in relief. Yet last night, he brought in Schmidt in the 9th inning with runners on.
I am not criticizing either Cabrera or Schmidt. I am criticizing the way they were used.
Players of the Game:
Harrison Bader and Oswaldo Cabrera each had two hits, including a home run.
Aaron Judge had a big two-run home run, tying the game at that point.
Better to Forget-
Josh Donaldson was hitless, with two strikeouts last night. When you include his awful blunder on the base paths in game one, he is having a forgettable playoff series in what is a forgettable season.
After Friday's game, I wrote that the Yankees were "Bad to the Boone". Last night, they were "Worse to the Boone". As I feared all season, the Yankees are on the brink of elimination, due in very large part to the inadequacies of Aaron Boone as a manager. The Yankees are a better team than the Guardians. They should have won last night's game. They should have won Friday night's game. Unless they win tonight and Monday, their season will be over. Before I go on about Boone, let me switch gears for a moment.
I agree with Michael Kay's post-game comments. Aroldis Chapman should be completely and totally ashamed of himself. I don't know how or why any other team would want him on their roster after what he did at the end of this season. He skipped a mandatory workout because he was not guaranteed a spot on the playoff roster. With Scott Effross being lost to injury, Chapman would have been on the roster. He may have even pitched in last night's game. He let the team down. He is a disgrace and an embarrassment to the Yankees' organization.
The Cleveland Guardians are a very young team. They have seven rookies on the playoff roster. The Yankees have two. Terry Francona has done an excellent job of integrating the young players into the team. Answer this. What young players has Aaron Boone developed as manager of the Yankees? The answer is none.
Gleyber Torres has been streaky and inconsistent throughout his career. After a tremendous season in 2019, he was virtually invisible in 2020 and 2021. This year, he was much better but, had prolonged funks.
Nestor Cortes was not technically a rookie in 2021 but, he did not have a lot of major league experience. He pushed his way onto the roster and into the starting rotation based on sheer ability and necessity. He was not nurtured by the manager.
This year, Oswaldo Cabrera forced his way into the everyday lineup because he took advantage of the opportunities that were there, due to injuries and poor performances of other players.
Many Yankee fans felt that Oswald Peraza should have played shortstop regularly when he was called up. He did not. He is not even on the playoff roster. Isiah Kiner-Falefa had another shaky game defensively. It is safe to say that Peraza would have been an upgrade over him. Having Peraza on the playoff roster would have also given Boone the option of putting Kiner-Falefa at third base, benching Josh Donaldson.
Contrast the way Boone uses his young talent to the way Francona uses his.
After the game, Boone told Meredith Marakovits that Clay Holmes was not available for last night's game. His answer was confusing because he said he was available and then he wasn't available. He ultimately said he was only available in the case of an emergency. The Guardians were starting to rally in the ninth inning. If that's not an emergency, what is?
Holmes later disputed this, saying he was available and told the coaches or the manager that he was able to pitch and ready to go. How convincing he was, I have no idea. He also said he expected to pitch. Clearly, there was a breakdown in communication. Remember, Boone was brought in to manage due in large measure to his ability to communicate. He was incapable of saying to the media whether Clay Holmes was available. Obviously, he was incapable of communicating with his pitcher about whether he was available. That is worse
Moving past that, it was obvious Boone had no intention of using Clay Holmes in the game. If that was the case, he should have used his bullpen differently. Perhaps he could have used Clarke Schmidt earlier. Maybe he could have come into replace Luis Severino in the sixth inning. If Boone brought him in in the ninth inning with two runners on, he certainly could have used him in the sixth inning with two runners on. If Boone didn't want to do that, he could have brought Schmidt in after Lou Trivino, leaving Jonathan Loaisiga and Wandy Peralta for later in the game.
Again, let's assume that Clay Holmes was never a possibility to come into the game. Why then, would Lou Trivino have only pitched 1/3 of an inning, throwing 7 pitches? Why would Jonathan Loaisiga have only pitched 2/3 of an inning, throwing 15 pitches? Remember, on yesterday's date, Luis Tiant threw 163 pitches. Couldn't Loaisiga and Trivino have thrown 20 or 25?
Boone's maneuvers and in-game decisions last night made very little sense. That is almost always the case with him. They make less sense when you factor in that last night's game was a crucial third game in a best of five playoffs series. When you add in the information that Clay Holmes was not going to be used by the manager, Boone's maneuvers with the bullpen make no sense whatsoever.
It is possible that the Yankees will win tonight and tomorrow night. Gerrit Cole is an excellent pitcher and could lead the team to a victory. The offense could pound Cleveland's pitching. It is much more likely that the Yankees will lose one of the next two games. I make that statement based on my total lack of confidence in Boone to make good decisions. The Yankees have been a very good team throughout his tenure but, they have won no championships under his guidance. They have not even made it to the World Series with him as the manager. If the Yankees win, it will be based on sheer talent with no contribution from the manager. I do not know if it will be possible for the team to Boone-proof itself for the next two games. They went from "Bad to the Boone" to "Worse to the Boone". Hopefully, tomorrow won't be "Worst to the Boone".
On another note, the Phillies are going to the National League Championship Series. The Phillies are managed by Rob Thomson. Rob Thomson was a long-time Yankees' coach, who interviewed for the managerial position that ultimately went to Aaron Boone. After he did not get that job, he left the organization and went to the Phillies. Congratulations to him. He took advantage of the chance he finally received. Too bad he was not given that chance by the Yankees.
Tonight, the Yankees play the fourth game in the ALDS against the Guardians in Cleveland at 7:07 PM. Gerrit Cole will face Cal Quantrill for Cleveland. It is an elimination game for the Yankees.