Thanks to three listless performances, the Yankees went into Game 4 of the ALCS needing a win to keep their season alive. Well, you can say a lot of things about that game, as the performance wasn’t listless; it just ended up being frustrating in different ways.
The Yankees’ offense had by far their best game of the series, putting up five runs on nine hits, taking the lead to start the game, and then battling back after they had lost it. However, they ended up losing it on two different occasions, thanks to a bad combination of disappointing, injured pitching, and terribly-timed errors. Just as they did in the first three games, the Astros didn’t really make those same kind of mistakes, putting the final nail in the Yankees’ coffin. Houston clinched a trip to the World Series with a 6-5 win, and now the Yankees are headed to an offseason of uncertainty.
After three bad games of struggles, the Yankees’ offense finally got off to a decent start in the bottom of the first. Harrison Bader got things started with a single, and Anthony Rizzo got on with a hit by pitch two batters later. Giancarlo Stanton then added a single that got the Yankees their first run since the fourth inning of Game 2. Gleyber Torres helped add another when the BABIP gods looked kindly upon the Yankees, as a fly ball managed to just land in between a couple Houston fielders, scoring Rizzo. An inning later, Isiah Kiner-Falefa double to lead off the inning, and eventually came around to score with Rizzo added another double.
Starting pitcher Nestor Cortes had been playing with danger a bit in the first two innings, and that eventually came back to bite him in the third. He started the inning with two walks, during which the trainer came out of the dugout to check on him, although Cortes remained in the game at that time. Jeremy Peña then tied the game up with a home run, at which point Cortes was removed from the game with the trainer coming back out. His velocity was down and he kept getting into three ball counts seemingly unable to locate. He remained in the dugout after exiting, and the Yankees said that it’s a groin injury, and that’s he’s been dealing with it for a while, so hopefully it’s nothing too long term.
Wandy Peralta came in for him, but things got worse before they got better. Yordan Alvarez doubled, and moved to third on a Kyle Tucker liner that went back up the middle and off Peralta’s hand, leaving him no play. Yuli Gurriel then gave the Astros the lead when he singled to score a run. Peralta got out of the inning after that, but the solid work from the first two innings was now gone.
Needing to fight back, the Yankees did show some determination in the fourth. With one out in the inning, Bader reached on a single for his second hit of the day. After Aaron Judge just missed a pitch, resulting in a deep fly out, Rizzo stepped to the plate. Bader would move up a base on passed ball, which ended up being important. Rizzo then singled to center, scoring Bader to tie things up again.
Peralta ended up going two innings, before exiting in the fifth after giving up a leadoff walk to Alvarez. Jonathan Loáisiga replaced him and got out of that inning before also throwing a scoreless fifth and sixth inning.
Bader would once again come up huge to give the Yankees the lead in the sixth. He took a Héctor Neris pitch into the stands in left field, putting the Yankees back in front. It was his fifth homer of the post season, matching what he did in his entire regular season with the Yankees and Cardinals.
Loáisiga came back out for the seventh, and after getting one quick out, got into trouble not entirely of his doing. Jose Altuve led off the inning with an infield single on a very, very close play at first. The Yankees challenged the play, and from some angles, it seemed like a covering Loáisiga might’ve just beaten Altuve to the bag. However, the original call was that he was safe, and it was always unlikely to be overturned. In need of a double-play ball, Loáisiga seemingly got one, but Gleyber Torres and Isiah Kiner-Falefa rushed a bit, and Torres’ flip went into left field, allowing everyone to be safe.
Torres’ flip wasn’t great, but Kiner-Falefa seemed to take a weird route to the bad, potentially in an effort to rush and get enough power for the throw. Either way, it proved costly.
Naturally, Alvarez immediately added a single to tie the game. That ended Loáisiga’s mostly great outing, with Clay Holmes brought in. Alex Bregman added a single off him, and suddenly Houston was in front.
The Yankees’ offense still had a chance after that, but they went down fairly meekly in the seventh and eighth innings. Holmes threw scoreless frames in the eighth and ninth to at least keep the Yankees down just a run. The ninth in particular featured a wild play by Holmes, Rizzo, and Josh Donaldson after Altuve attempted to go from first to third on a bunt.
The 9-1-2 spots were due up in the ninth with the Yankees needing a rally to save their season. However, Jose Trevino, Bader, and Judge went down in order, sealing the Yankees’ fate. The Astros are the American League champions once again, and have dispatched the Yankees in the postseason for the fourth time within the past decade.
Now begins a winter of uncertainty. Between Judge’s free agency, and the Yankees having another offseason to try and figure out a way to not get outclassed in the playoffs, it’s going to be an interesting one. Thank you sincerely for following along with us throughout this topsy-turvy 2022. The writing season never really stops for us, but at these crossroads, know that we appreciate you. Here’s to a better 2023.