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The Yankees rallied late, but missed opportunities proved costly in a 6-4 loss

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The Bombers lost a bullpen game as season ends catastrophically

League Championship Series - New York Yankees v Houston Astros - Game Six Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

The Yankees brought the ALCS to Game Six, but they didn’t have enough to force a Game Seven. Opportunities came in bunches, but they weren’t able to come through in pivotal situations. Their known strengths in the bullpen ended up allowing each run that crossed the plate for Houston, while the middle relievers did more than expected. Either team looked like they could take control of the game with each inning but the contest remained close right until the end.

Things were looking good for Chad Green once the first batter of the game George Springer struck out on an outside slider. Since Green is mainly a fastball pitcher, it’s good seeing him use another pitch for a strike out early in the game; most expected him to pitch two innings. Six of his first nine pitches were sliders, but after Jose Altuve hit a double to the left-center field gap off a slider, the fastballs never stopped coming. Michael Brantley and Alex Bregman saw nine out of 11 fastballs as the next two batters, with Bregman walking to bring Yuli Gurriel to the plate. It seemed as if everyone knew another fastball was coming, and Gurriel hit it for a three-run home run. The Yankees had their work cut out for them early.

Brad Peacock pitched a 1-2-3 inning in the first, and quickly got two outs in the second, but Didi Gregorius wouldn’t let Peacock finish his outing as he would like. Gregorius laced a double to right field giving the Yankees their first opportunity. Gary Sanchez then singled in the run home to put the Yankees on the board.

With the Bombers behind 3-1, J.A. Happ entered the game on his 37th birthday looking to keep things close. He did just that, starting his appearance with a 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the second. But during the bottom of the third, things looked dicey for Happ after a leadoff walk to Springer. Happ, however, settled down against the heart of the lineup retiring Altuve, Brantley, and Bregman in order. He finished his night by going two innings and allowing just the one walk.

The fourth inning inched the Yankees even closer once Gio Urshela hit a home run to cut the Astros’ lead in half. Luis Cessa took over for Happ and continued the middle-reliever success, beginning with a 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the fourth. Cessa wouldn’t be able to do that once again, but a double play off the bat Springer did allow him to face the minimum three hitters as he threw two innings, allowing one hit and striking out one.

Since Happ and Cessa were both able to provide two innings each, the elite arms of the bullpen started to lineup. After Tommy Kahnle took the ball from Cessa, Jose Altuve once again worked a walk, followed by a Brantley single, to put runners on the corner. Bregman then softly grounded to Gregorius for the RBI making it 4-2. Adam Ottavino, who has been unplayable of late, struck out Martin Maldonado and induced two groundballs for a prefect frame.

It’s difficult seeing bullpen pieces you expect to shut down an inning later give away the big runs, and Zack Britton was on the brink. After a walk to Brantley, a single by Gurriel, and walk to Carlos Correa, Britton found himself with the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth. ,Yordan Alvarez, who has been struggling the whole series, was pitch-hit for as Aledmys Diaz entered the game. Since Alvarez is a left-handed hitter it seemed like an easy switch to make, but like most times, Britton got his groundball out to end the threat.

The Astros couldn’t have asked for anything more, they took a two run lead into the top of the ninth with their closer Roberto Osuna walking to the mound. Urshela, who had a perfect night with three hits and one walk, began the inning of with a single to left field. Brett Gardner gave it his best shot, but he couldn’t square up against two fastballs bringing him to two strikes. Gardner would then swing over a changeup to end his at-bat.

This time it was DJ LeMahieu’s shot to be the hero, and with Urshela at first base, the 10-pitch at-bat began. Pitches eight and nine were both fastballs in the upper half of the plate, which LeMahieu hit for a fouled off and took for a ball, respectively. On the 10th pitch of the at-bat Osuna threw another fastball and regretted it, as LeMahieu took his cutter over the right-field wall for a game-tying home run. Just like that the Yankees had new life.

But it would it was all short lived.

Aroldis Chapman looked great against Maldonado and Josh Reddick, getting the first two outs of the innings, but all of a sudden wasn’t able to find the plate. He walked Springer and quickly fell behind in the count against Altuve after two high and away fastballs. A slider would drop in the middle of the zone to give Chapman his first strike. All series long the Yankees have pitched Altuve outside with breaking pitches and the Yankees went there again, but this time he made them pay. On a Chapman slider, high on the outside corner, Altuve hit a two-run shot end the Yankees season with one swing. The 2019 season was a wild ride, it’s just too bad it ended so soon.

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