For the second day in a row, the Yankees lost in heartbreaking fashion to the Cleveland Guardians in the ALDS. New York now finds itself down 2-1 in the series after a reassuring start in Game 1. If I could make “the bloop hit” the Player of the Game (for really the second straight game), I would. But alas, there were still some Yankees who had solid days. Oswaldo Cabrera stood out the most in a terrific showing.
Cabrera went 2-for-3 with a double and a home run in Game 3 with a pair of runs and RBIs. His home run in the fifth inning was probably the biggest play of the game for the Yankees.
In his first at-bat, the switch-hitter attacked a first pitch down-and-in slider from Triston McKenzie and roped it down the right-field line for a double. Cabrera took the pitch where it was supposed to go, and did so at 102.9 mph. The hit proved to be important as well, as he quickly came around to score on Aaron Judge’s game tying home run two batters later.
Cabrera’s second at-bat was even more productive. Harrison Bader reached base two batters before Cabrera, and helped set-up the youngster’s go-ahead bomb. Cabrera took an up-and-in 91-mph four seamer from McKenzie into the right field seats, and had a top-notch pimp job to go with it.
At the time, Cabrera’s homer was the decisive play of the game, breaking the 2-2 tie and swinging the momentum towards New York. With Bader on base, after Kyle Higashioka struck out for the first out in the fifth, the Yankees win probability sat at 50 percent according to Baseball Savant. When the ball landed off of Cabrera’s bat, that number jumped to 74 percent. This figure would get as high as 96 at one point, but obviously, it failed to reach 100.
Oswaldo Cabrera is just 23 years old, and was a much needed spark for the Yankees at the end of the regular season. He had a 111 wRC+ in 44 games for the Yanks down the stretch, including an even more impressive 129 wRC+ in September. He quickly became someone who looks to be a part of this team’s future, and timely contributions in the postseason only help that case. He is a young and exciting player, and if he’s someone who is comfortable and productive in big spots, even better.
Frankly, it is hard to focus on much other than how horrible of a loss this was for the Yankees. There were some bright spots throughout the first eight innings: Cabrera’s big hits, a much needed great swing from Judge, and another playoff homer from Bader. But if it wasn’t obvious, the real winner here was some timely hitting and well, the Cleveland Guardians.
A big part of capably enjoying sports is being able to remember good things in the midst of all the bad. Tonight ended up being a poor one for the Yankees. But, their promising young switch-hitter looked great, and hit a huge homer in the postseason and looked cool as hell doing it.
There is only so much that can mean unfortunately, and it won’t end up being the thing that is remembered about Game 3. As much as it may feel like it, this series is not over, and a win in Game 4 could shift the tides in the other direction. Perhaps Cabrera’s big swings get him going, and maybe Judge’s will too. Now, it’s up to the Yankees to decide if these gut-wrenching losses are just a footnote, or the nail in the coffin for their season.