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Game 2 ALCS Perspectives

The following were my thoughts as the game played out last night…

Giancarlo Stanton is not playing? He’s hurt? Again? UGGG! Just when it seemed as though he might start hitting, the Yankees lose Stanton again. This has not been his year.

It almost seemed appropriate that Stanton, or someone, would get hurt. This is what the Yankees have dealt with, and overcome, all year. “Next Man Up.” This will have to play out again for the Yankees to keep winning!

James Paxton looked terrible. He seemed to be behind every single batter. He just never seemed to throw a first pitch strike. To battle a guy like Justin Verlander, James Paxton had to be on his “A” game. He wasn’t last night. The fact that he couldn’t get through three innings, left the Yankees much weakened. The bullpen is going to be taxed a great deal. The Yankees will need significant length out of their best relief pitchers in order to win.

The Astros had a host of chances to put the Yankees away early. The fact that they didn’t looked like something that would play in the Yankees’ favor. (Ultimately, it didn’t.)

Aaron Judge’s home run was HUGE. In a game where the Astros should have had a huge lead against the Yankees, they found themselves training 2-1 with one of their best pitchers on the mound. The fact that the Yankees couldn’t capitalize on this ultimately was the reason they lost.

The Yankees did not get defeated by Justin Verlander. In fact, it took a long time, but they got into the lesser pitchers in the Astros’ bullpen with a chance to win the game. Unfortunately, the Yankees’ bats just never came alive – even against the lesser pitchers late in the game.

Edwin Encarnacion seems lost at the plate. There were a few times when I wondered if he would be pinch hit for with Giancarlo Stanton. It never happened. (I don’t think that was the wrong move not to pinch hit for him, but I do have to wonder if Encarnacion gets a start in Game Three.)

The other day I wrote that I like that Aron Boone is managing his own way – and he’s been having success with this, but, that being said, as I wrote about in the ALDS, he seems to have no faith in Adam Ottavino and he is burning through his top relievers too quickly. He burned through three relief pitchers (Chad Green, who I think was lifted too early), Adam Ottavino, and Tommy Kahnle in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Yankees have a deep and talented bullpen, but it’s only deep if the pitchers pitch. It was a bad move to use three guys in that inning that early in the game. Chad Green had been dealing, retiring all six batters he faced. Taking him out was the wrong move – it felt like over-managing. The fact that Ottavino then couldn’t get through the inning hurt the Yankees going forward.

Boone’s decisions in the bottom of the fifth inning would have looked worse if Tommy Kahnle hasn’t been so effective and sharp. He bridged the gap for the Yankees to cover for the quick hook to Chad Green.

Sending D.J. LeMahieu to try to score in the top of the sixth inning was the correct move. The fact that he was out by a mile does not take away from that fact. The Yankees had a chance to score. They didn’t because Carlos Correa made a great play off the ball that came off Jose Altuve’s glove. His throw was strong and accurate. If the Yankees scored there, they might have won the game.

Carlos Correa had the first RBI, the last RBI, and made that great play on the hit by Brett Gardner to erase LeMahieu at home. He had a great night. Sometimes all you can do is tip your hat to a great player.

These late starting times are a killer. A killer. Baseball cannot maintain a fan base over time with games that last this late into the night. Kids can’t stay up and most other people have to work. Rather than enjoying the last innings, I constantly watched the clock and had to determine how much longer I could stay with the game. Start the games earlier – PLEASE!

Yes, I know Tuesday’s game is at 4:00 p.m. But earlier times should be the norm, not the exception.

The Yankees have to consider sitting Edwin Encarnacion in Game Three. He is doing nothing right now. He came up a few times with runners on or with a chance to help get something going and he just looks lost right now. All great hitters look bad sometimes… the Yankees just don’t have much room for error here. Each game is going to be too close.

Gary Sanchez also seems lost at the plate, but, again, I have been very pleased with his defense.

Bringing in Aroldis Chapman for the Bottom of the Ninth Inning with the game tied was the EXACT CORRECT MOVE. Yes, yes, and yes. This is the EXACT thing I was writing about in the season’s last weeks. In games like this, when a team is battling for the win (or battling for home field advantage late in a season), it has to use its best players. Chapman is the best pitcher the Yankees have in that spot. No question. They lost a few games in September by saving Chapman for a save that never came. That is unacceptable. The fact that the Yankees lost after taking Chapman out is irrelevant to this argument. You cannot lose the game with your best pitcher on the bench in the bullpen. The Yankees didn’t do that last night. Kudos to Aaron Boone for going to Chapman in that spot.

I did not see the Bottom of the 9th, or any baseball after the fact that I knew Chapman was coming into the game. 11:45 p.m. is too late for me to stay up. I had to go to sleep. What a shame that baseball forces its fans to choose between sleep and watching the last innings of an important game.

Since Aaron Boone went to C.C. Sabathia, why did he face only one batter? Because of the quick hook (it seems, I’m only looking at the game play-by-play report on espn.com), the Yankees burned through three pitchers in the tenth inning. Again, this seems like over managing.

With Luis Severino pitching tomorrow, there is a strong chance that all of those pitchers will need to be used again, at least the primary relief pitchers.

The Yankees prevented the Astros from scoring in eight of the eleven innings last night. Unfortunately, the Astros kept the Yankees from scoring in ten of those innings.

Last night’s game was a nail biter, it was good baseball, it was exciting, but I much prefer a no-stress 11-0 Yankees win.

They battle again tomorrow.

Let’s Go Yankees.

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