THE NEW YORK The ALDS now consists of three games. In Game 2 against the New York Yankees on Friday afternoon, the Cleveland Guardians prevailed 4-2 (box score) after 10 innings thanks to Oscar Gonzalez and a strong bullpen outing. The series is even after one game as it travels to Cleveland on Saturday night.
Giancarlo Stanton’s first-inning home run gave New York an early 2-0 advantage, but the Guardians rallied to tie the score and then took the lead in the tenth inning with a few weak pop-ups. The bullpen for Cleveland limited the Yankees to just one single over 4 1/3 innings.
Here are four lessons learned from Game 2:
Instead of walking, Stanton homered
Jeremie Rehak, the home plate umpire, gave Shane Bieber a gift call in the first inning (or so he thought). Despite being slightly off the plate and below the zone, his 3-1 cutter to Giancarlo Stanton was ruled a strike. Here is where the pitch will be:
Austin Hedges, the catcher for the Guardians, is a master at framing pitches, so either he stole a strike or Rehak completely botched the call. In any case, Bieber was granted a reprieve and another opportunity to retire Stanton and end the first inning as a result of the call. He wasn’t the one who carried out the action.
The following pitch was a fastball that wasn’t quite high enough for Stanton to hit, but it still went for a two-run home run and a 2-0 advantage.
Cortes averted his own disaster
Certainly not from the seat of his pants. Myles Straw sliced a comebacker up the middle in the fourth inning with the bases loaded and two outs, and Cortes reached up and grabbed it. He fell and hit his behind, but he still managed to throw to first base to get the out. One of the swiftest baseball players is Straw. Cortes was short on time.
It will be in centre field for a two-run winning single if Cortes doesn’t stop it. Knocking it down would have, at the very least, kept the ball on the infield and stopped the second run from scoring. It was almost a bonus that the inning ended with a first base out.
The Guardians had several opportunities to really make a dent in the scoreboard but only managed to score two runs overall in five innings against Cortes. They had multiple runners on base in three of the five innings they faced the All-Star lefty, but they left a runner on base in four of the five. Cortes swayed but ultimately remained unbroken.
Judge having difficulty with the ALDS
Aaron Judge, who has 62 home runs, has a 0 for 8 ALDS record through two games. Game 2 saw him go 0 for 5 with four strikeouts. The AL MVP front-runner has been successfully restrained by the Guardians for the first two games. Judge has also never in the series batted with runners on base. He has not had the slightest opportunity to harm anyone.
It should be noted that Judge struggled somewhat to the end of the regular season, hitting just.216 (8 for 37) with 15 strikeouts in his final 13 games. In the 2017 ALDS against Cleveland, he also had a 0 for 20 performance and 16 — 16! — strikeouts. He played in 29 postseason games and hit.242/.354/.550 with 10 HR between that series and this one. He appears to be a target for the Guardians in October.
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The reward for contact went to Cleveland
This season, no baseball team made more contact with the ball than the Guardians, and in the tenth inning, two bloop hits helped them win the contest. First, José Ramirez hit what should have been a single to shallow left, but because he sprinted to second, Josh Donaldson rushed the throw, causing it to miss the mark and allow Ramirez to advance to third with no outs. Cleveland was set up by a little ball-in-play luck and some hustle.
Oscar Gonzalez, the next batter, was down 0-2, fouled off a few pitches to get it back to 1-2, and then he singled to score the winning run to right. Between right fielder Aaron Judge and first baseman Aaron Rizzo, the ball was perfectly positioned.
According to Statcast, Gonzalez’s ball had a 37 percent chance of being hit and Ramrez’s ball had a 9 percent chance of doing so based on exit velocity and launch angle. Better than well-struck is well-placed. But one batter later, Josh Naylor smoked a ball with a 108.5 mph exit velocity over Harrison Bader’s head, scoring a crucial insurance run for the Guardians. Well-struck also works.
In the tenth inning, Cleveland was rewarded for making contact while the Yankees found it difficult to make contact at all. Three Guardians relievers faced 18 batters in total, but they only allowed six balls in play (eight strikeouts, four walks, three ground outs, one fly out, one force out and one single).