The Yankees went into this thing playing with house money. Picked as no better than a .500 team by most pundits in April, the team has risen to competing in the ALDS. And it just might be they have reached the peak of their achievements for 2017. And it could also be that Cleveland is merely a better team than they are this year.
The Yankees lost a game they should have won last night. And it wasn’t because Joe Girardi was too late in asking for a reply on a play that was called a hits batsman that was actually a strikeout. They lost the game because Cleveland came back from what should have been an overwhelming five-run deficit entering the sixth inning.
They lost the game because their bats went quiet after shellacking Corey Kluber, driving him unexpectedly from the game. And they lost the game because Francisco Lindor stepped into the moment, hitting a grand-slam home run off Chad Green and because the Indians were 4-8 with runners in scoring position while the Yankees were only 2-7.
Welcome to playoff baseball
It’s playoff baseball, and things can quickly get out of hand, despite the best-laid plans. A move here and move there, and a manager can turn on a dime from goat to here. Terry Francona made the first move by starting Trevor Bauer over Kluber in Game One. Now, in retrospect, he’s a genius, but it could easily have turned the other way.
Francona also makes the unconventional move to start Ian Kinsler in center field where he has played only a handful of games during the regular season. So what happens? He makes a diving catch on a ball hit by Chase Headley that could have turned the game around in the third inning.
CC Sabathia was surprised he was lifted from the game and that could have been another turning point last night. We’ll never know. It is what it is.
Cream does rise to the top
The Yankees beat the Minnesota Twins in the Wild Card game because they were the better team The Houston Astros are killing the Boston Red Sox because they are, the better team. And Clayton Kershaw won Game One for the Dodgers because he is the best pitcher in baseball. And finally, the Indians are up by 2-0 because they are the elite team in the American League this season.
As good as the Yankees were in September, the Indians were better, finishing the season by going an astounding 29-3.
And unlike other years where an underdog rises to the top, surprising one and all, 2017 is not that type of season. The Miracle Mets of 1969 are not on the board this season. And for that matter, neither are the 2001 Yankees who stole the ALCS from the Oakland A’s on that improbable “flip play” by Derek Jeter nailing Jason Giambi at home, catapulting the team into the World Series.
The Yankees have disappointed, but………
Is it over? Yeah, it is. There is no way the Cleveland Indians are going to lost three consecutive games to the Yankees, especially because the final game of the series, if it gets that far, will be played at Progressive Field.
And sometimes, you just have to tip your hat to the opposing team because at that moment in time, they are better than you are. Suffice it to say, the Yankees are the team of the future in major league baseball. And 2018 could and should be the year of their “coming out party.” This was good. This was even exceptional.
But, the New York Yankees are not quite ready for prime time, yet.
Contact me with your thoughts. And thanks for the read.