Three Keys for the Yankees to take ALCS Game Three

Sunday night’s ALCS Game Two loss for the Yankees was devastating, at best.

Photo Credit: Newsday/William Perlman

A loss is a loss, and it will hinder the Yankees getting to the World Series in just four ALCS games.  But, the fans have no reason to give up hope just yet.  The Game One win was tremendous, and will allow the Yankees to return to the Bronx with a split -- a feat that many across Yankees' Twitter considered a goal of the first two games, until it happened.  
Additionally, any game that goes to extra innings is proof of just how much both teams are rejecting complacency.  Both the Yankees and the Astros had their collective heads in the game, and refused to give up easily.  Yes, mistakes were made. The offense was quiet (more noticeable after Justin Verlander exited the game in the seventh inning), and the bullpen was arguably over-managed in the early going. While a 3-2 loss counts the same as a 10-2 loss in the win-loss column, a 3-2 loss in extra innings is evidence of a team that refused to go down without a fight.  How will they keep that fight going as they head into a crucial Game Three?  What (or who) are the keys to a win in the Bronx, right away?

Luis Severino
I was going to make the title for this key a bit more elaborate, and then realized that it goes without saying, Sevy needs to bring his best stuff to Game Three.  That’s it.  As we’d say on Twitter… That’s it, that’s the tweet.  However, there are several clues pointing to a good outcome on Severino’s part.  He’s fared better in postseason play this year than in the past, with an excellent performance in the ALDS, in which he threw up straight zeroes over 4.0 IP.  He hasn’t pitched too many innings since returning from his injury, but that pattern can continue in this game, especially with the bullpen getting a day off in between games.  While the Yankees need to win as many games as possible, this game is not a “must-win” game, thanks to their Game One victory -- which means that the pressure will be significantly less for Sevy than it would be in a “must-win” game.  Sevy needs to throw strikes, and get the likes of George Springer and Jose Altuve out before they have a chance to get on base.  While there’s not much matchup history to go on this year, the Astros have hit .247 lifetime against Severino -- which is not bad, but certainly not great.  In other words, there is definitely a chance for Sevy to do Sevy things, especially at home.

Utilize The Bounce-Back Factor
Over the course of the 2019 regular season, the Yankees had a history of needing a metaphorical wake-up call.  When the Yankees dropped all three games in a three-game series against the Oakland Athletics back in August, they bounced back to take the next two out of three from the Los Angeles Dodgers (a team they were competing with for the best record in MLB).  Then, they took three in a row from the Seattle Mariners.  While the Mariners were a much easier team to beat, sweeping a series on the road is never easy.  After losing three straight at the end of July to the Boston Red Sox on the road, the Yankees took the fourth game of the series.  Then, when the Red Sox came to the Bronx a week later, the Yankees swept them and won all four scheduled games.  The point?  The Game Two loss might just be the wake-up call that the Yankees need to win Game Three, and beyond.

The Obvious
I label this section “The Obvious” because it almost goes without saying that the Yankees’ offense needs to get Gerrit Cole out of the game… ASAP. They are going to have do more of what also seems obvious, and it’s a task that they’ve been good at thus far in the postseason, even against Verlander in Game Two.  The Yanks need to get Cole to throw lots of pitches.  Considering A.J. Hinch took Verlander out of Game Two in the seventh inning, we can assume that Hinch doesn’t wait too long once 100 pitches are recorded for a starter.  However, Cole leads the American League in strikeouts, with 326.  He has lent himself to 15 straight Astros wins in which he has started with the ball.  Not to mention, Cole pitched the series-winning Game Five of the Astros’-Rays ALDS, going 8.0 IP with ten strikeouts.  But, if Cole were to make any mistake at all, it will likely come in the form of giving up a home run.  On the 2019 season, he gave up 29, and his home run-to-fly ball rate was 16.9 percent (up from 10 percent in 2018).  If anyone can string together hits in the form of home runs, it’s the Savages -- with their 306 regular-season home runs and nine postseason home runs, so far. It's especially possible in the Bronx, with the home crowd behind the Yankees, and with Yankee Stadium’s short porch.

Article by: Mary Grace Donaldson


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