The New York Yankees are heavy favorites to take down the Cleveland Guardians in the ALDS, and they showed exactly why.
The Yanks took home Game 1 of the series, 4-1.
The Guardians got on the board first, as Steven Kwan hit a solo home run in the third inning off Gerrit Cole, who had given up the second-most homers in all of baseball this year. Cleveland also loaded the bases that inning with one out, ready for a huge blow. But Cole induced fielder’s choice at home and a strikeout to get out of the jam, and he coasted from there. He finished his night throwing 6.1 innings with eight strikeouts, four hits and one walk, allowing just the one run.
Harrison Bader, a Yankees’ trade deadline acquisition, tied the game in the bottom of the third with a solo shot of his own. In the fifth, Josh Donaldson thought he had given the Yanks a 2-1 lead, so he went into a home run trot. However, the ball hit the top of the short porch, and a confused Donaldson was tagged out at first base. The Yanks quickly made up for it though – the next batter in Isiah Kiner-Falefa singled and reached third on an error by right fielder Oscar Gonzalez, and Jose Trevino’s sac fly gave the Yanks a lead.
In the sixth inning, Cal Quantrill walked leadoff hitter Aaron Judge, but the damage was done instead by Anthony Rizzo, who hit a two-run shot into the second deck to give the Bombers a 4-1 lead.
After Cole left to a standing ovation, Jonathan Loaisiga put the tying run at the plate, but Amed Rosario grounded into a 6-6-3 double play to end the threat and leave Jose Ramirez on deck. The Guardians also grounded into a double play in the eighth to kill all hopes.
The Yankees bullpen was a large question mark entering this postseason – it’s been riddled with injuries all year (they just lost Scott Effross earlier Tuesday to Tommy John surgery) and inconsistent all year, with no true closer at the moment. But Loaisiga, Wandy Peralta, and Clay Holmes combined for 2.2 scoreless innings.
The Guardians have scored just four runs in three postseason games so far – all via the home run.
Game 2 is currently slated for Thursday evening, but weather in the Bronx isn’t supposed to be great, so it remains to be seen if it’ll be played as scheduled for moved to Friday.
Nestor Cortes will look to give the Yanks another gem and lead the series 2-0, while 2020 AL Cy Young Award winner Shane Bieber will aim to give Cleveland a much-needed win on the road.