In order to win baseball games, a team is required to score runs. All the run prevention in the world can only get you so far, and for the Yankees in this series, things have been most dire in that department.
History will look back at this game with Gerrit Cole having been roughed up by his former club for five runs while pitching into the sixth, but failing to get an out in that inning. However, this loss is not on Cole. More importantly, the dejected feeling of disappointment is primarily caused by the offense and a putrid showing that simply follows the pattern of recent games. The Yankees lost, 5-0, to fall behind in the series three games to none, putting them on the verge of a sweep. They never really felt like they were in this game.
The Astros jumped off to a two-run lead in the second inning, in a way equivalent to the so-called baseball gods giving this Yankees ballclub the middle finger. Cole had escaped a minor jam with three strikeouts in the first and was facing Christian Vázquez with two outs when the former Red Sox catcher hit a routine fly ball. It was completely botched by the combination of Harrison Bader and Aaron Judge, and the Yankees superstar himself did a poor job of getting out of Bader’s way.
It was deflating, but no harm had been done thus far. Cole might have needed to toss a few more pitches to get out of this inning, but the bottom of the order was up, and it was a scoreless game. Things should’ve be fine, right?
Wrong. Chas McCormick got up to the plate and hit the ultimate definition of a Yankee Stadium home run, with a ball hit that traveled 335 feet down the right-field line.
And just like that, the Yankees were down 2-0. It was a score that would last for quite a few innings, and one that did not reflect the mood around the ballpark during most of this game. The Astros could have called it there and won, though they didn’t.
The Yankees’ offense — one of the best in all of baseball — shouldn’t be too outside of their comfort zone with a two-run deficit in a playoff game, regardless of who’s pitching. But with recent performances, that lead might as well have been 5-0 for the whole game.
At a point in the fourth, Cristian Javier had reached over 10 innings at Yankee Stadium in 2022 without allowing a single hit, looking back to his seven no-no innings in the summer. Although the Yanks’ lineup was able to get a baserunner on at the beginning of the fourth and fifth inning, absolutely nothing materialized off those opportunities.
Harrison Bader even tried a bold move with a stolen base attempt after a leadoff walk in the fifth, which can be somewhat criticized as the team trailed by two runs. But when the offense is doing quite literally nothing, it’s hard to harp on the Yanks’ center-fielder too much, even if he was gunned down at second by Vázquez.
Cole came out to pitch the sixth inning and allowed the first three hitters to reach base, and that was enough for manager Aaron Boone to make the change. Lou Trivino didn't give up any hard contact coming in, but he still allowed all three inherited runners to score with a sacrifice fly to Trey Mancini and a soft single to Vázquez.
Baseball is baseball, and anything can always happen, but the three-run sixth inning for the Houston Astros only served to give the scoreboard a more appropriate result, to what the game was showing.
Even when trailing by two, the Yankees’ offense seemed utterly inept to absurd levels, and remained that way through the entire night. They were one-hit until two outs in the ninth, when they randomly pieced together back-to-back knocks before Josh Donaldson swung at air to secure the loss.
The Yankees are averaging a little over one run per game in this ALCS, and there’s really no pitching staff great enough, and hot enough to justify this lack of production — especially from a team that’s won 99 games. All that can be said is that they’ll have a shot at keeping their season alive for at least another day tomorrow night in Game 4. Nestor Cortes will face Lance McCullers Jr. with first pitch coming at 7:07 pm ET.