This postseason has already seen some huge upsets. Not many people had the Phillies knocking out the Paul Goldschmidt/Nolan Arenado-led Cardinals in the Wild Card Series, and even fewer had them dispatching the defending champion Braves. The 111-win Dodgers went down on the same night, as the same Padres team that upset the 101-win Mets in the Wild Card managed to shock LA by stealing Game 2 at Dodger Stadium and winning back-to-back games at Petco Park.
Outside of Toronto falling to Seattle, the American League side of the bracket has been all chalk. The mighty Astros have remained mighty and are (unfortunately) by far the best overall team still alive, having already secured their sixth consecutive ALCS appearance. As for their opponent, it seemed like the Yankees had a rematch with Houston in their crosshairs after winning ALDS Game 1 and taking an early Game 2 lead over Cleveland. But the Guardians stormed back to win the second game in extras at Yankee Stadium before stomping on Yankees fans’ hearts in the ninth inning of Game 3.
Just like that, the Yankees’ season is suddenly down to that dreaded October axiom: Win or go home. This series will either go back to the Bronx tomorrow for a winner-take-all Game 5, or Cleveland will have an ALCS date with Houston and the Yankees’ season will finish going down in flames.
The man on the mound to hopefully stop the Guardians in their tracks will be Gerrit Cole, who twirled 6.1 innings of one-run ball with eight strikeouts in the victorious ALDS opener. The men in the batter’s box to hopefully put more than a few runs on the board in support of the ace will be the following players:
Just like last night, the Yankees will go with a front five of Gleyber Torres, Aaron Judge, Anthony Rizzo, Giancarlo Stanton, and Josh Donaldson. Oswaldo Cabrera’s big night in Game 3 restored him to the No. 6 spot, but his position in the field is the most interesting note.
Cabrera will be manning shortstop, as after a particularly rough Game 3, shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa is riding the bench. If only this annoying team had rostered Oswald Peraza, eh? Whatever. At least IKF is out of there for now. But Peraza’s absence from the 26-man means that Aaron Hicks is in left field in Cabrera’s place for his first playoff appearance of 2022. He’ll bat ninth, between center fielder Harrison Bader and catcher Jose Trevino, who will step back in for Kyle Higashioka.
For as frustrating as the 2022 season has been since the Yankees’ amazing start, I still do not want to see it end. Teams have overcome much more miserable walk-off losses than last night to win their respective playoff series. The mood is dire, but it’s not as though it’s an impossible scenario to envision Cole tossing a gem while the Yankees offense gives him just enough to win. If a Game 5 happens, then the Bronx will be bumping. But they have to stay alive tonight, by any means necessary.
Let’s go Yankees.