file.jpg

ALCS – Game 6 Perspectives

This is a big night. A very big night for the Yankees.

Quick note – I began writing this “perspectives” article about an hour before game time. I am confident that the Yankees will win tonight. Hope always springs eternal. If the Yankees can win, I think they also have a great chance in Game Seven.

Just as a reminder, and long-time readers of this blog should know this already, since I am writing this “Perspectives” post in real time as the game progresses, all of my thoughts, criticisms, and such, are first-guesses, not second guesses. If I am wrong about something, I always acknowledge that fact. There’s also a chance that I’ll be correct about some things (like the proper batting order construction). It’s good that Aaron Boone is finally taking my advice.

Let’s get to it…

Chad Green will get the start for the Yankees. I would have started J.A. Happ, but I understand using Green. I would love for Aaron Boone to stick with Green for as long as he is effective. I hope he doesn’t lift him based upon some predetermined amount of innings. (“Green goes the first two…”) If Green is succeeding, the Yankees should ride his right arm for as long as they can. Using Green deeper into the game than in most of his “Opener” starts this year will save some wear and tear on the rest of the bullpen – everyone else who will be needed, should the Yankees win, in Game Seven.

I guess Giancarlo Stanton is really injured badly. He’s out of the lineup again. I was hoping tonight would be his night to shine.

I am glad the top of the lineup for the Yankees will be D.J. LeMahieu, Aaron Judge, and Gleyber Torres. Based on last night, and the fact that he is taking pitches and making the pitchers work, I also like Aaron Hicks batting fourth. He seems like the next best hitter the Yankees have.

I hope the Yankees jump out to a huge lead and put this game away early. That would be terrible for the Astros who could have started Gerrit Cole on short rest and ended this thing before a crucial Game Seven. There is a school of thought, which makes sense, that when a team has the chance to bury their opponent, like the Astros do tonight, that they should just do it. Anything can happen in any game – especially a Game Seven. But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

I’ll get this off my chest early – I greatly dislike the orange towels the fans wave incessantly in Houston.

I wish the Yankees had been a little more patient at the plate in the first inning. D.J. LeMahieu took a strike, then swung. Aaron Judge and Gleyber Torres both swung at the first pitches they saw. The Yanks went down in order with Brad Peacock of the Astros throwing only seven pitches. All he threw were strikes, and that was an easy inning for him. Maybe too easy.

Yuli Gurriel’s HUGE first inning three-run homer for Houston might be the back-breaker. The Yankees have not been scoring a lot this series. They now need three runs just to tie. This isn’t good. I think Chad Green has been over used – he’s appeared in almost every game. He hasn’t had his best stuff his last two times out. It was bound to happen. I would have started J.A. Happ…

Ok. The bottom of the Yankees lineup is showing some spunk with two outs. This is huge. Didi Gregorius doubled. He then scored on a Gary Sanchez single. Gio Urshela then walked. That got Brad Peacock out of the game. That’s big. Getting one run back makes the task of coming all the way back seem less daunting.

I think Brett Gardner will hit a three-run homer. (If this happens, no one will believe that I wrote this before it happened.)

It didn’t happen.

The Yankees’ top of the order did a much better job their second at bats. The Yanks didn’t score, but they worked the counts, getting a hit and two walks. They loaded the bases and didn’t score, but this doesn’t feel like the other night when all seemed lost.

Gio Urshela hit a big homer to close the gap to 3-2.

Brett Gardner almost made me seem like I can predict the future as he just missed a game-tying homer (albeit, an at bat later than I predicted). Still, he singled to left. The Yankees are battling!

The home plate umpire has called strikes on a host of pitches out of the strike zone. I’ve seen at least three balls called strikes against the Yankees. I might just be being too “Yankee-centric” and I’m not noticing that he might be doing the same to the Astros, but even if he is, or not, this is the playoffs and the umpiring has to be better.

So J.A. Happ goes two innings. He allows no hits. He walks only one. He faced seven batters and retired six of them. He did all this while the Yankees need innings, and lots of them, from a pitcher. So, what does Aaron Boone do? He takes Happ out after two innings. This is exactly what I didn’t want to happen and what I think is managing according to a pre-arranged plan or script rather than actually watching or “feeling” the game. Happ was pitching well. He should have stayed in the game.

Of course Luis Cessa came in and retired the side in order anyway. Still, I would have left Happ in there. The Yankees might find themselves needing more pitching later.

At one point during the series against the Twins, I stated that I hope the Yankees bring all these players back next year. But, because he’s looked so lost at the plate, and so hopeless as a hitter over the last week, I think this series stamped Edwin Encarnacion’s ticket out of New York. He won’t be back in 2020.

John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman felt that Gary Sanchez took his time fielding the bunt single against the Yankees to begin the bottom of the fifth inning. From my perspective, he played it as quickly as he could. The batter was initially called out, but he was way safe. The call was overturned on replay. The umpiring has to be better.

Give Luis Cessa credit. He pitched two quality innings. It would be nice if he could get the Yankees to the seventh inning, but Tommy Kahnle is already up in the bullpen.

(Off topic entirely – The Mr. Rogers movie that comes out next month looks fantastic. I can’t wait to see it!)

A.J. Hinch managed his bullpen as I would have. He left Jose Urquidy in the game through to the the middle innings staying with a pitcher who was doing a good job. Urquidy threw 45 pitches to get the Astros directly to their best relief pitchers.

Brett Gardner just missed a homer earlier in the game and then he just missed a single that could have possibly tied the game (but probably wouldn’t have because Gary Sanchez was the runner on second base) as he lined out to right field. Baseball really is a game of inches.

I should be getting nervous, and despondent, the Yankees are running out of time. Still, I think they have a chance tonight. They’re only down by one run. On the other hand, they have only three innings left to tie (and hopefully) go ahead.

Tommy Kahnle came in for the sixth. Will Zack Britton get the seventh and Aroldis Chapman the eighth? This plan will force the Yankees to push a one-inning pitcher further than usual or a lesser-pitcher into the game. Both Cessa and Happ were lifted too soon. I just don’t think it makes sense in a game like this to take a pitcher who is doing well out of the game. Boone’s strategy is to keep calling on new pitchers who he hopes are at the top of their game. To do this he is taking pitchers who already are at the top of their game out of the game. To me this is just poor managing or a bad game plan at least.

So, Kahnle comes in walks a batter and then gives up a hit that puts runners on the corners with no outs. Down 3-2, and late in the game, the Yankees have to play the infield in. They cannot fall further behind. So what did they do? They played the infield back…and a run scored. Now it’s 4-2. The mountain just got a bit steeper and a little higher. I am feeling less confident. Playing the infield back was a bad decision by Aaron Boone who should have been managing to keep the game at 3-2.

Kahnle got a strikeout to end the inning, but Gary Sanchez didn’t catch the pitch and the batter reached. It seems as the Yankees start to falter that Gary Sanchez is one of the first guys to start to crumble. I know that’s not fair…it’s just a perception. It’s just not a good look when the catcher starts letting so many pitches get by him as has happened in recent games. Until the other day, Sanchez (to my eye) had been having a strong series defensively.

The Astros are too good to give them extra outs.

Alvarez is 1 for 22 or something. When an opponent is that bad I think, “Oh no, he’s so ready and due to have a big hit.” When a Yankees’ batter is 1 for 22, I think, “Oh no, it’s hopeless, he’ll never get a hit again.”

The seventh inning ended with Aaron Hicks just missing a bloop single to left field as Michael Brantley rushed in and made a diving catch. Aaron Judge had run too far off of first (he had singled earlier in the inning) and was easily doubled up. The Yanks were so close…

As with 2017, the Astros just make all the plays. They are just too good. They play high quality baseball. They do the little things and the big things. The Yankees are a great team, but they just aren’t as fundamentally sound as the Astros. In a series like this, when two great teams are battling, it’s the little things that make a difference. The Astros almost always do the little things well. The Yankees do the little things well most of the time, but not as often as the Astros. This is the difference between the teams. This is why the Astros are about to deny the Yankees a trip to the World Series for the second time in three years.

Down 4-2 in the bottom of the seventh inning, Aaron Boone turns to Adam Ottavino. Regardless of how this turns out, it’s the wrong move. The Yankees cannot fall further behind. This is not the time to go to a struggling pitcher. They were forced to do this because Boone didn’t trust J.A. Happ or Luis Cessa earlier in the game when they were pitching well.

Give Ottavino credit, he retired the side in order.

The Yankees started to make it interesting in the top of the 8th, but Gary Sanchez grounded into a 4-6-3 double play, turned beautifully by the Astros. Again, it’s clear, they’re just the better team.

Zack Britton pitched in and out of trouble which brought the Yankees to the ninth.

All seemed lost, so much so that the previous half-inning, I began writing my 2019 Season Post-Mortem.

And then Gio Urshela singled. Brett Gardner followed with a strike out. And…after an eight or nine pitch at bat… D.J. LeMahieu hit an unlikely game-tying homer. Holy Cow! You have to say this; these guys have heart. The ball just went over the wall. It was so unlikely a homer that John Sterling never gave it his typical home run call. He just called it as a fly ball to right… that went over the wall. We never got a “It is high, it is far…”

Aaron Boone saved Aroldis Chapman for this moment – the bottom of the ninth inning. This was his plan. And it worked. (I obviously didn’t think it would.) I’m very interested to see what a tenth inning will look like regarding the pitching for both teams.

ALAS! We will never find out. In the end, the game ended right where Aaron Boone in a spot that should have worked in a different matter. The results just weren’t there. Aroldis Chapman was on the mound. It was a tie game. It was the bottom of the ninth inning, there were two outs… extra innings were looming. And then disaster struck.

I have shared that all post season long I have been listening to John Sterling call the games on the radio. It’s been a little difficult to get used to this as the radio feed is about 15 seconds ahead of the play-by-play on the TV. In this instance I was glad that Sterling was ahead of the action. I heard him call, “It is high, it is far…” and was able to immediately turn off the television. I didn’t need to see the game winning homer. I still haven’t seen Ken Griffey score in 1995 or the Red Sox win in 2004. I still haven’t seen the Diamondbacks winning in 2001. I always turn off the game when the Yankees lose to end a post-season series – and then I never watch those “highlights.” I don’t need to see the Astros celebrating. Ever.

This is terrible.

I hate when the season ends. And boy did this one end abruptly.

It’s the worst.

I hate winter.

***

As a reminder – we’ll be here every day all autumn and winter long sharing our thoughts and all the Yankees news. It was a great ride.

Thanks for sharing the 2019 season with us all. We appreciate that you share your love of the Yankees with us.

Wait ‘till next year!

Let’s go Yankees!!!

#2019Yankees

Start Spreading the News is the place for some of the very best analysis and insight focusing primarily on the New York Yankees.

(Please note that we are not affiliated with the Yankees and that the news, perspectives, and ideas are entirely our own.)

SSTN is proudly affiliated with Wilson Sporting Goods! Check out our press release here, and support us by using the affiliate links below:

587611.jpg