Hi all. While last night’s loss that kept the Yankees out of the World Series was painful, there’s no reason to believe it will be remembered 15 years from now. If you go back 15 years, (not recommended for Yankee fans) you find the ultimate Bronx Fail–the only team to have a 3 games to None lead and blow it (bad enough) but to blow it with games 6 and 7 at the House that Ruth Built? Inexcusable. No matter how many games the Yankees lose like the one they lost last night, none will be remembered as long as games 4, 5, 6 and 7 between October 17–21, 2004.
Compared to the calamity of 2004, last night’s defeat was relatively mild. Unlike in 2004, Yankee fans knew they were in trouble at the end of July, and had reason in mid-September to believe this team wouldn’t reach the World Series. At the end of July, for the third year in a row, the front office didn’t make a move for a starting pitcher. Such a move in the 2017-18 offseason could have netted them Gerrit Cole who now gets the chance to start for the Astros against the Nationals in the World Series. Possibly ownership rationalized they could get by with James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka, Domingo German and a returning Luis Severino. Had any of the 4 blown out an elbow, that would have been bad but understandable. What Domingo German did was bad and inexcusable, landing on administrative leave under the game’s domestic violence policy.
The Yankees’ manager did his team no favors in game 2. He removed James Paxton, their hired gun, in the third inning with just one run against his record. 7 more pitchers took the hill in that game which was lost in 11 innings. That led to defeats in games 3 and 4, two of the worst postseason games the Yankees have ever played. The only worse one that leaps to mind was a humiliating 16–1 loss in last year’s ALDS against the Red Sox, a loss I heard about from my neighbor downstairs, (a Red Sox fan) during the entire offseason. The Yankees at least played like a big league team on Friday night in game 5, which turned out to be their last game at home for this season.
Last night’s game never would have been the game it was if German had shown a mature man’s self-control. Since he didn’t, the Yankees had no starter to work with. Houston rolled the dice and kept starter Gerrit Cole, and were luckier than they probably want to admit. The Astros could have ended things early when Yuli Gurriel hit a 3-run home run in the first inning off Chad Green. For what it was worth, the rest of the Yankees’ bull pen gave up just a run through the home 8th inning. Even so, the visitors were behind 4–2 facing Astros’ closer Roberto Osuna in the 9th. With a man on, DJ LeMahieu faced down the closer mano a mano for 10 pitches. He hit the 11th for a game-tying two-run home run. Even that wasn’t enough. With a man on in the home 9th, Aroldis Chapman copied past closers Dennis Eckersley (against Kirk Gibson) and John Rocker (against Jim Leyritz) and hung a slider. Game over, ALCS over.
The postmortem began on social media from the moment Altuve’s shot left the park. The actual bloodletting probably won’t begin until after the World Series, although I would have printed up a pink slip for Aaron Boone a week ago and held it while awaiting further events. Not getting enough starting pitching as early as 2017 has to mean Brian Cashman should consider whether he wants to take up golf or join ESPN. On the other hand, he may argue that ownership didn’t allow him to make the needed moves, a familiar tale often told in Flushing rather than the Bronx. Word on Facebook has Chapman bailing out, and while I hope he doesn’t, who could blame him? Gerrit Cole is said to be available in free agency, but if the Yankees didn’t get him when he was two years younger, I’d be surprised if they would get him now. Madison Bumgarner may be available, and if he’s learned his lesson about not riding a dirt bike on his off day, he might be helpful. Something has to be done about the number of injuries the Yankees dealt with this year which was far above the norm. The most seriously injured-Giancarlo Stanton, Miguel Andujar, Dellin Betances, Luis Severino and to a lesser extent Aaron Judge may be suspects going forward. The bottom line is, the best chance the Yankees had this decade was in 2017, followed at a fair distance by this year. The Epic Bronx Fail of 2004 saw the Yankees not reach another World Series until 2009. I hope we fans of the Bronx Bombers don’t have to wait another 5 years.