Hi all. Here’s how I see baseball through 4 games of the ALCS. In games 3 and 4, the Yankee fans have tried harder to psych the Astros than the team has tried to beat them. If possible, last night’s 8–3 loss was more humiliating than the loss Tuesday night.
The Astros should have known what Yankee fans are all about. This isn’t their first rodeo. They were in the Bronx in 2017 for the ALCS, and walked out of there down 3 games to 2. They took both games in their park on the following weekend, showing commendable grit. That’s what we haven’t seen from the Yankee players, particularly the hitters. Last night, repeatedly they left the bases loaded until the Astros built a 6–1 lead. It was the usual suspects–George Springer and Carlos Correa. They had each hit solo home runs back on Sunday night to give Houston a 3-2 win in 11 innings. Last night, they each hit 3-run home runs. Houston’s Dynamic Duo have hit bombs in the same game on 6 separate occasions in postseason play. Even the Yankees’ Ruth and Gehrig never managed that. The Astros haven’t lost any of those 6 games. Springer hit his off Masahiro Tanaka, Correa’s blast came off Chad Green.
This isn’t something to be proud of, but the Yankee fans have done more to try and beat the Astros than the players have. Outfielder Josh Reddick made the mistake of going public about Yankee fans throwing stuff at him during game 3. Memo to Josh Reddick: This is Yankee Stadium. What do you expect us to do, act like choirboys? Last night, starting pitcher Greinke was on the receiving end during his warmup before the game. He was lucky it was only verbal assaults. Remembering the old addage about “sticks and stones,” Greinke didn’t go public. Showing commendable toughness, he battled through a 28-pitch first inning and struck out Gary Sanchez with the bases full. He didn’t last long enough to get the win, but he did his bit in spite of the fans’ best effort. The media knew what happened before the game began because the police ejected at least one man for getting on Greinke’s case. Since I have a similar problem to the one Greinke was being hassled about, I for once am glad the cops forcibly removed the abusive fan. He made it intensely personal, which is a step over the line even for Yankee fans. And when all was said and done, it didn’t work. Greinke still got the better of the Yankees, whether he got the win or whether he didn’t.
Now, the Yankees find themselves needing to win 3 games in a row, one in New York and 2 in Houston. They face Justin Verlander tonight, and if necessary Gerrit Cole either tomorrow or Sunday night. The last time they were facing this kind of pitching was in 1996 when they had to face the Braves’ trio of Glavine, Maddux and Smoltz while they were already down 2 games to None in the World Series. That time around, David Cone beat Tom Glavine in game 3, the Yankees took a wild 8-6 win in 10 innings in game 4, Andy Pettitte outdueled Smoltz in game 5 and Jimmy Key bested Greg Maddux in game 6. The Yankees will have to try to perform a similar miracle without the pitching they had in 1996 and without clutch hitters like Derek Jeter and Bernie Williams who powered that team to many vital wins. Since manager Aaron Boone panicked and hauled starting pitcher James Paxton out of game 2 in the third inning, the Yankees haven’t recovered. Assuming Paxton goes tonight, he heads to the hill knowing his boss doesn’t trust him. Who among us hasn’t found out that lack of trust poisons any relationship, be it personal or professional. In the short term, he’s liable to spend his time on the mound looking over his shoulder. He won’t be eligible for free agency until the end of 2020, but if Boone is still around then and still as jumpy as he was Sunday night, Paxton won’t be likely to want to stay around. If the Yankees win tonight, their best starting option would be Luis Severino who would be on short rest. Knowing the World Series starts on Tuesday night, Houston manager A.J. Hinch doubtless would go to Gerrit Cole if a game 6 is needed, hoping the other of his two aces can bring his team back to the World Series, this time against the Nationals.1