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Around the Empire: Yankees news - 10/24/22

Yankees swept by the Astros; Cortes leaves with groin injury; Yanks resorted to 2004 Red Sox for inspiration; Passan breaks down the Astros’ American League domination; Donaldson doesn’t feel “that bad” about slump

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

Yahoo Sports | Zach Crizer: In a game that included several lead changes, injuries and defensive miscues, the Houston Astros ended up prevailing 6-5 and knocked the Yankees out of the postseason with an ALCS sweep. The Yanks took an early 3-0 lead, but an injured Nestor Cortes allowed a game-tying three-run homer to Jeremy Peña. Everything went downhill from there, and while the Yanks battled back to take a 5-4 lead, it was erased in the seventh frame. Check out Matt’s recap for more.

A once-promising season now ends on a sour note, and the Yanks will enter a key offseason in which lots of things will need to change for them to return to MLB’s elite.

NJ Advance Media | Brendan Kuty: Aforementioned Yankees Game 4 starter Nestor Cortes was cruising in the first two innings, with just a couple of baserunners and no runs. Everything unraveled in the third frame, though, when he walked the first two men he faced before giving up that blast to Peña. It was later revealed that Cortes left with a left groin injury: it’s the same area he injured in late August and forced him to go to the injured list. He’ll have an MRI today and rehab appropriately in the offseason.

It was evident that Cortes had some sort of physical issue, as he was sitting in the 90-91 mph range in the first two innings and fell to 87-88 in the third. Manager Aaron Boone actually said on the TBS broadcast that the lefty has been dealing with a groin issue since his first start of the playoffs, though he initially still kept Cortes in after a first mound visit with the trainer. | Bryan Hoch: Prior to Game 4 of the ALCS against the Houston Astros, the Yankees used the story of the 2004 Boston Red Sox as inspiration to try to start a monumental comeback. Kevin Millar’s “don’t let us win tonight” phrase was shared within the Yanks’ clubhouse.

“We watched that video today,” manager Aaron Boone said. “We sent it out to all our coaches and are getting it out to all of our players. I think [the message is] just the belief that they had. They had confidence; you see Millar, ‘Don’t let us win one.’ Look, we still have time. We’re obviously now as far up against it as you can be and not in a great spot, but you can’t get ahead of yourselves, either.”

While the Yankees’ offense produced five runs on Sunday, it wasn’t enough to avoid a sweep. Why Boone would admit this in the first place to a media and fanbase that has no positive memories of that series is beyond knowing.

ESPN | Jeff Passan: Passan published a thorough analysis of the ALCS (after Game 3) and, most importantly, the bigger picture: the Astros are too far ahead of the pack in the American League, and that includes the Yankees.

“The game (the third of the series, on Saturday) itself served as a microcosm of the American League. The Astros own the league — and no team owns the American League without owning the Yankees too,” he wrote.

The series was a reflection of the Astros’ incredible pitching depth and quality, not to mention their formidable lineup. The Yankees will need to work a lot at all levels during the next few years to catch up. | Max Goodman: Josh Donaldson was a liability at the plate during the entire ALCS. He went 1-for-13 with three walks and 10 strikeouts, a truly miserable series in which heoften let hittable pitches go by while taking some ugly hacks.

Donaldson had the audacity to defend himself from the criticism and said he hadn’t been that bad to that point. “Actually, I don’t feel that bad,” Donaldson said after Game 3, when the Yanks lost 5-0. “Tonight, [I had] a couple strikeouts, but I think I’ve been working some counts, hit some balls, got a couple hits. But yeah, it would be nice to have a few more.”

Donaldson wasn’t much better in Game 4, and really heard some boos on Sunday.