Takeaway from Games 1 & 2, What to Expect in the Bronx
The Yankees walked out of Houston with a dominating Game 1 win, followed by a heartbreaking Game 2 loss in 11 innings. With the series tied at one game apiece heading back to the Bronx, there will be an exciting three games coming up. Here is the takeaway from the first two games in Houston, and what to expect in the Bronx for the next three games.
My reaction to the first two games: Overall, I think the fans have to be satisfied with what went down in Houston. The Yankees walked away with one win and will play the next three games at Yankee Stadium. The Yanks definitely wanted to win Game 2, but still have the ultimate advantage due to winning a game on the road. Masahiro Tanaka continued to prove he is the postseason ace of the Bombers on Saturday by pitching an absolute gem. The offense got on board and drove in seven runs to boost their way to a crucial Game 1 victory.
Aaron Judge spoiled Justin Verlander’s excellent Game 2 start with a two-run home run to right center field, bringing his career postseason home run total to eight. George Springer’s home run in the bottom of the 5th off the first pitch from Adam Ottovino was costly, as it tied the game and got fans questioning why Aaron Boone pulled Chad Green. It’s actually fairly simple. Springer is 2 for 4 lifetime off of Green, whereas he was 0 for 3 against Ottovino. Even with Chad Green dealing, it was not a risk Boone was willing to take. The second controversial call in the Yankee fanbase was third base coach Phil Nevin sending DJ LeMahieu on Jose Altuve’s error. There were two reasons why this was a smart move. It was a 3-2 pitch with two outs, so the runners had already started running before the pitch. Second, Nevin was hoping Correa did not make a strong throw home and the run scores. Sometimes gambling pays off, and Nevin took a risky gamble that was definitely worth the risk. In this instance, the plan just didn’t work.
With the Yankees heading back to the Bronx, there are a few things to look for:
Battle of the Bullpens: One of the most intriguing aspects of this series is the depth of both New York and Houston’s bullpens. The Yankee bullpen has done an excellent job of holding the lead in Game 1 and keeping Game 2 close. Houston’s bullpen had its low spots in Game 1 but shut down the Yankees in Game 2 for 4 1/3 innings, allowing 0 hits. In a tight series like this, the bullpens are going to be the ultimate factor in deciding who will advance to the World Series and who will go home.
Gerrit Cole is not unbeatable: Even though Cole has not lost a decision since May 22, he will be facing his toughest challenge yet (that includes Game 5 of the ALDS). For his first two starts in the postseason, Cole pitched at Minute Maid Park in Houston, giving him the home-field advantage. However, he will have to pitch in front of nearly 50,000 Yankee fans in what will be a loud Yankee Stadium. If the Yankees can be patient with Cole, he might be in for a tough start.
Patience is the Key: One of the biggest takeaways from the Yankees’ two home games against the Twins was how patient they were at the plate. If they can get back to terms with patience, they will give this Astros team an absolute fit. Yankees fans tend to get very loud once a pitcher falls behind in the count, and that is to be expected in the next three games. If the batters can find a way to take counts deep, the fans will play their part.
It Won’t Be Easy: Finally, we know this – these next three to five games will be battles. May the best team win!