yankees guardians
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A day off and a rainout later, the YankeesGuardians ALDS series is tied.

Cleveland took advantage of bloop hits and untimely errors to take a 4-2 lead in the 10th inning and never looked back. The Yankees, meanwhile, wasted a first-inning home run from Giancarlo Stanton.

It was not the effort expected of the Yankees, especially with no days off until the end of the series. In the meantime, it’s now off to Cleveland to try and steal Game 3.

Some takeaways:

Where is Aaron Judge? The Yankees would really appreciate it if Aaron Judge and his MVP form showed up to the game. Judge, who hit .311 with 62 home runs and 132 RBI in the regular season, is 0 for 8 with seven strikeouts in the postseason.

This wouldn’t be a big problem, except Judge is still serving as New York’s leadoff hitter. Not an ideal position for someone who, entering today’s game, was a .225 career playoff hitter. That’s a hard number to accept for someone expected to set the tone at the top of the lineup. Whether it’s the long layoff or just another slump, Judge’s team needs him to show up.

The Guardians can pitch to victory. How quickly we forget that while the Yankees ranked third in MLB with a 3.30 team ERA, the Guardians also ranked sixth at 3.46. What’s more, is that Cleveland’s arms were ready to go in a must-win game in front of a hot Bronx crowd in Game 2.

For example, starter Shane Bieber (not to be confused with Justin) entered the game with a 5.74 ERA in three starts against New York. He allowed Stanton’s home run in the first inning and cruised the rest of the way, pitching into the sixth. The Guardians’ bullpen took over and struck out eight Yankees in 4.1 innings of one-hit ball.

Whatever the Yankees bring in Games 3 and on, it will take more than just one big swing to beat Cleveland.

Advantage Yankees? The series is tied 1-1, but fortune favors the Yankees on paper. Cleveland’s relievers worked hard in Game 2, including 33 pitches from star closer Emmanuel Clase. Now, both teams need big outings from Luis Severino and Triston McKenzie.

Even if Severino only lasts, say, five innings, New York is still in good shape. The Yankees used six relievers today, none of whom threw over 20 pitches. Meanwhile, Guardians manager Terry Francona probably won’t have Clase at his best until at least Game 4. But then, the Yankees have Gerrit Cole toeing the slab.

The first two games between New York and Cleveland were intense. Now, let’s see how the Yankees and Guardians run a literal gauntlet.

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Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.