Wow. I’ll be the first one to admit, I was very nervous and skeptical of this team heading into the postseason. This season was basically two teams split into one for the New York Yankees as they and the rest of the MLB tried to adapt to the reality of what a weird season this has been. Heading into these playoffs, the Yankees finished as the 5th seed in an 8 team playoff format for the AL, something that the league is also introducing this season.
Leading into a two out of three series on the road vs the Indians probably had a lot of Yankees’ fans feeling on edge. this is due to that we simply did not know what team we were going to see tonight, but I’m sure glad we saw this one.
Going into this postseason, the last 20 games of the Yankees season were basically two different teams. They went on a 10-0 run in record-setting fashion by absolutely beating the brakes off of the Blue Jays and the Orioles at home as they go on to finish at a 2-8 record by losing to those same Blue Jays on the road and losing 2 of 3 to the Miami Marlins. There were clearly many reasons to worry about this team if you’re a Yankees fan and going right into a 2 out of 3 series is a trap for almost any baseball team, especially a team as inconsistent as the Yankees were all year. The Indians had similar problems this year but also have a much deeper pitching staff which obviously could cause a lot of trouble for the Yankees.
This was the best pitching matchup on paper we will probably see throughout the entire postseason. Last night we saw Gerrit Cole take on Shane Bieber who is going to win the AL Cy Young award. This was certainly a challenge for the Yankees, but games like these are the reason they paid Cole all this money and he sure did deliver. In the first four pitches of the game, the Yankees went up 2-0 right away thanks to a 2 run home run by Aaron Judge.
The Yankees got all of the momenta they needed right at that moment as they went on to rock Shane Bieber all night. He finished the night with 4.2 innings pitched with 9 hits allowed and 7 earned runs. Going into this game, the most runs Bieber had allowed in a game this season was 3, so this was certainly huge for the Yankees. Cole kept up his end of the bargain with 7 innings pitched, 13 strikeouts, and 0 walks allowed. The 13 strikeouts were second all-time for a Yankees pitcher only to the famous Rodger Clemens 2000 ALCS performance with striking out 15 Mariners that night. As I said, this is exactly why the Yankees signed Cole and he certainly delivered a classic performance last night.
The explosive and polarizing offense that the Yankees have also shown up in a big way last night putting up 12 runs on the board. Judge, Stanton, Torres, and Gardner all homered last night and that sparked an incredible all-around performance by everyone. In order to close out this series tonight, the offense will have to do the same thing. The pitching matchup will be another good one with Tanaka vs Carrasco. Tanaka has proven that he can show up in big games and big moments and he will need to do the same thing tonight for the Yankees to have a chance to close this out.
Game 2 will be tonight at 7 PM on ESPN. If the Yankees win, they win the series and will await the winner of the Blue Jays vs Rays series. If the Indians win, we will see a game 3 winner take all game on Thursday. It will be really important for the Yankees to close this out tonight.