The Yankees had Gerrit Cole on the mound, a rowdy Bronx crowd, and a great chance to get a game back in the ALCS.
Once again, playoff futility struck New York and another lifeless performance commenced. Cole allowed five runs in five innings and the fans booed the team off the field by the sixth. The Astros won Game 3 5-0 and can now clinch the AL Pennant against Nestor Cortes in Sunday’s Game 4.
Here’s what we learned from Game 3:
Gerrit Cole deserves better. You’d never know that the Yankees averaged 5.65 runs of support per nine innings for Cole this season. Save for a couple of well-timed home runs this postseason, New York’s lineup has looked absolutely lifeless in its ace’s starts.
The Yankees lost to the Astros in the 2019 ALCS and then added Gerrit Cole as a potential missing piece. Three years and no World series rings later, his opt out after the 2024 season looms a little larger.
The Yankees’ gameplan failed. We’ve discussed countless times how these Houston Astros aren’t the aggressive hitting team they once were. This year’s team doesn’t move the line with contact, but with timely walks and timelier home runs.
Granted, the Yankees scored 50.2% of their runs via the home run in 2022, but also played well in the first half of the season with a more balanced approach. Now, they’re clearly trying to beat the Astros at their own game and just take big swing after big swing. Important as home runs are in the playoffs, living and dying by them is no way to win.
That is, except for the Astros, who actually make the big swings and let their pitching do the rest.
These Yankees aren’t the 2004 Red Sox. 18 years ago, a scrappy team from Boston stared the Yankees square in the face down 3-0 in the ALCS. Trailing in the ninth inning, Dave Roberts stole second base and then scored the tying run on Bill Mueller’s RBI single. The rest is history.
But there’s a key difference. Unlike the ’04 Red Sox, the 2022 Yankees just don’t have that heart to rally for four straight wins. Nobody is working competitive at-bats and there isn’t the same, “Screw it, let’s just play” mentality Boston had. No, the Yankees look hopeless and lost in every way possible, and it’s cost them revenge on the Astros again.