Hi all. Here’s how I see what happened last night in game 2 of the ALCS. Panic is an all too real emotion, and last night it got the better of Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone and cost his team a game they certainly could have won. Carlos Correa drove in two runs, one a walk-off home run in the 11th inning to give the Astros a 3–2 win over the Yankees.
It doesn’t do for a modern baseball fan to read too many mystery and thriller novels. In those, panic just isn’t allowed. No matter what, the protagonists keep their cool. Even in baseball before social media, managerial panic was rare, especially in the postseason. Can you imagine Earl Weaver or Sparky Anderson pulling a starting pitcher in the third inning, having given up just a run, as Yankee manager Aaron Boone did with James Paxton last night? Presumably, the Yankees traded for Paxton in the last offseason so he could perform in games like the one last night. He was in a minor situation last night, two men on in the third inning and down a run when Boone came out with the hook. Buck Schowalter or Joe Torre wouldn’t have done that with David Cone even if it ultimately cost the Yankees the game. Like Paxton, Cone was a hired gun brought in from Toronto to pitch serious innings in important games. Chad Green closed the inning out, and in the 4th Aaron Judge hit a two-run home run giving the Yankees the lead. Green couldn’t have pitched any better, but he was removed with one out in the fifth. Adam Ottavino came on and served up a meatball to the Astros’ George Springer, tying the game.
From there on, Boone trotted out pitcher after pitcher, not letting any of them get serious innings under their belts in spite of the fact that today was a travel day. I can’t begin to figure out what Boone was thinking, exposing all his relievers to the Houston bats. He even brought CC Sabathia in, but only used him to get out one batter which he did. That was in the 10th inning of a game that was still tied at 2. With one out, Boone turned to Jonathan Loaisiga, which gave me the idea he wanted to get back to the hotel before room service closed. After Loaisiga walked both men he saw, J.A. Happ bailed him out, but Happ gave up the game-winning gopherball an inning later. Carlos Correa, who had driven in the Astros’ first run in the second, won the game in the 11th.
Unless the Yankees take all 3 games this week in the Bronx, they probably will have sharp regrets about blowing last night’s game. They did nothing against a supposedly inferior Houston bull pen after Justin Verlander was removed in the 7th. They were ahead 3 games to 2 going to Houston 2 years ago and didn’t win either game 6 or 7. Aaron Boone will have to give his starters–Severino, Paxton who could start game 4 after his quick hook last night, and presumably Tanaka in game 5-longer leashes so they can do what starting pitchers are supposed to do rather than have the bull pen play musical chairs all night long.1