The Yankees have now taken two in a row to send the series to a Game 5 with a 2-2 tie. Things looked dire for New York before the offense was finally able to deliver against the Astros’ underwhelming bullpen. It was truly an unexpected and exciting finish tonight that will hopefully give the Yankees some kind of momentum going forward.
Game 4 of the ALCS between the Yankees and the Astros was an even match for half the night. Sonny Gray and Lance McCullers Jr. traded zeroes for five innings until Houston was able to take advantage of New York’s mistakes. By mistakes, I mean three errors, a baserunning blunder (Aaron Judge was caught off the base on a shallow fly ball), and Joe Girardi’s decision to take out his pitcher one pitch too late.
Sonny Gray gave his team exactly what they needed by striking out four over five innings and allowing just one earned run on one hit and two walks. It’s too bad some bad luck and the team’s inability to score for him nearly ruined it all.
Despite his strong start, things unraveled in the sixth for Gray. He walked George Springer to lead things off. With Josh Reddick batting, Austin Romine invoked a catcher’s interference, allowing a second hitter to reach base. Gray’s pitch total was in the mid-80s, so it made sense for the Yankees to go to the bullpen with so many weapons at their disposal. For some reason, Joe Girardi let his starter throw just one more pitch.
In the end, maybe it was an ultimately meaningless event, but allowing Gray to throw a ball to Jose Altuve before going to the bullpen seemed like a bad idea. David Robertson entered the game already behind in the count, and in the end he allowed the walk. He managed to strike out the next batter, but Yuli Gurriel got the better of him and knocked a three-run double down the line to break the game open.
In the next inning, the Astros took advantage of another mistake by the Yankees. Marwin Gonzalez reached on a double against Chad Green before Brian McCann came up to the plate. Knowing who was hitting, the Yankees shifted him perfectly, and Green invoked an easy ground ball to Starlin Castro, but it wouldn’t be that simple.
Playing deep in the outfield grass, Castro seemingly tripped on his own feet, fell down, and dropped the ball. This was his second error of the game, and it allowed Gonzalez to make it all the way home. What should have been the second out of the inning turned into Houston’s fourth run of the evening. Castro was basically useless tonight.
Somehow, McCullers was able to hold the Yankees to just one hit in seven innings. The offense finally managed to break through in the seventh when Aaron Judge hit a solo home run off the face of the restaurant in center field. This led to maybe A.J. Hinch’s biggest mistake of the night when he pulled McCullers to use his bullpen.
With Chris Devenski now in the game, Didi Gregorius got things started with a triple before Gary Sanchez knocked in the run on a sac fly. Greg Bird walked to quickly chase Devenski from the game.
The Yankees then took it to the Astros and Joe Musgrove in the eighth inning. Todd Frazier singled to start things off. Girardi sent up Chase Headley to pinch hit for Romine, and he managed to hit a double. Things took a scary turn when Headley stumbled around first base and was nearly nailed at second, but replay showed he just managed to get his hand in.
Now with Astros closer Ken Giles in the game, Brett Gardner hit a ground ball to bring in a run and make it a one-run game. Aaron Judge then doubled off the outfield wall to tie the score. Didi reached on a single through the gap before Gary Sanchez broke things open with a double that plated two. By the end of the inning, the Yankees were suddenly in the lead and only needed three more outs to win the game.
Aroldis Chapman came in for the ninth and was able to shut the Astros down to officially steal the win. The Yankees will throw Masahiro Tanaka against Dallas Keuchel on Wednesday and hope for a better result than last time. It’s a best of three series now. Get ready.