On Thursday night, the Yankees played one of the most demoralizing games in recent memory. Sure, the Astros trounced the Bombers in their own yard, but that only accounted for a fraction of the misery. New York played an uninspired game on both sides of the ball, and the wheels came right off. The team had more errors than runs, took hapless at-bats in pivotal situations—they loaded the bases twice and scored one run on a walk!—and CC Sabathia’s career came to a brutal conclusion as he suffered a left shoulder subluxation on the mound.
The events took all the air out of Yankee Stadium, and the dejection extended into the clubhouse as well. The postgame interviews gave off an air of self-defeat, a team void of morale after three crushing losses in a row. The loud confidence of the group gave way to quieter introspection.
Aaron Judge: "I gotta step up ... We just gotta go out there and just take care of business and do our job." pic.twitter.com/WMYPWRtIqT— YES Network (@YESNetwork) October 18, 2019
From one perspective, the previous three games showed a team ready to call it quits. In that case, last night’s loss would serve as the body blow, stealing whatever hope they have left. Poor fundamentals, wasted opportunities, and injuries—the very foundation of rock bottom, population Yankees. Game Five would just be academic, suiting up against Justin Verlander, only because the rules say the Astros have to win four games to advance to the World Series.
It doesn’t have to end that way, though.
The Yankees can take that nightmare game and use it as a turning point. This could be the start of a storybook ending for the Bombers. Can’t you see it? CC Sabathia delivers an emotional pregame address to the locker room; James Paxton conjures up all the memories of the Astros tagging him and uses them to pitch the game of his career; the Yankees hit the field fired up and reacquaint Justin Verlander with the friendly confines of YSIII. Game Five has the chance to turn savages into legends.
From there, the Yankees head back to Houston where they capitalize on a bullpen game. Then Game Seven, where all bets are off. The ALCS is a miracle in the making; all of the ingredients are there for something spectacular to happen.
The nice thing about rock bottom is that up is the only direction left to go. It’s time for the Yankees to pick themselves up off the mat. They don’t have the luxury of feeling sorry for themselves or putting their tail between their legs. They just have to show the Yankee Stadium faithful what they’re made of.
When the Yankees fell behind two games to none in the 2017 ALDS, Gary Sanchez tweeted out an inspiring message: “Every great story happened when someone decided not to give up.” The Bombers now have the opportunity to author another great story, one even more memorable than that victory over Cleveland, complete with a dedication to one CC Sabathia.