First of all, thanks for your patience waiting for this recap to go up. The 4 o’clock start was pretty inconvenient for us. Anyway, not a great one to recap! The Yankees dropped Game 3 to the Astros, 4-1, and now train the best-of-seven series 2-1.
Houston jumped on Luis Severino early before he could settle down, and even though Gerrit Cole had to battle through the first five innings, the Yankees could never capitalize against him. Let’s get to the takeaways:
Luis Severino bends, but doesn’t break
From the get go, it was apparent that Luis Severino didn’t have his A-game. The first inning was a battle from start to finish; he threw 36 pitches before escaping. Fortunately for him, Sevy only allowed one run. José Altuve clobbered a first pitch hanging slider into the left field seats to make it 1-0.
After Altuve’s homer, Severino loaded the bases. Up came Game 2 hero, Carlos Correa. The star shortstop popped up to end the frame. Crisis averted, but Severino’s struggles weren’t over just yet.
In the top of the second, Severino hung a slider again. This time, to Josh Reddick, one of the two weak links in Houston’s lineup. But even a below average major league hitter can crush a cement mixer into the right field seats at Yankee Stadium. That made it 2-0.
At that point, it sure seemed like Severino’s night should been nearing an end. Instead, he surprisingly pitched into the fifth inning. He had an easy six pitch third inning and worked around a two out double in the fourth frame.
Things got weird in the fifth, though no damage was done. There was a lengthy delay to start the top of the inning because home plate umpire Jeff Nelson needed to be removed with a concussion. It took a long time for Kerwin Danley to replace him. So, with Sevy through four mostly shaky innings with 90 pitches and a long delay between the fourth and fifth, it looked dangerous to try to steal one more inning. Severino retired Altuve to open the frame, but a single and a walk ended Sevy’s night before Chad Green bailed him out of the fifth.
Tonight marked Severino’s seventh postseason start in which he couldn’t finish the fifth inning. He’s made eight total starts, the one good one being Game 4 of the 2017 ALDS against Cleveland. It may be asking a lot of a guy who missed nearly all of 2019 to pitch better in the playoffs, but it’s been frustrating for a couple of years now. He’s capable of dominating, but just has not come through. At least in this ballgame, he didn’t blow up and kept things close.
Too many missed opportunities vs. Gerrit Cole
Cole may have thrown seven shutout innings today, but it was evident that he didn’t have his best stuff either. He escaped trouble on multiple occasions and stranded nine Yankees in this one. It’s one thing to get beat by Cole because he’s dominant, but it’s very frustrating to blow multiple opportunities against him when he’s not at his best.
The first blown chance was in the first frame. DJ LeMahieu and Aaron Judge led off the game with back-to-back singles. Brett Gardner, unexpectedly hitting third, flew out. Then, the cleanup hitter, Edwin Encarnación popped up for the second out. Gleyber Torres followed with a walk on four pitches to load the bases. And then, inexplicably, Didi Gregorius grounded out on a first pitch changeup. You have to take a pitch in that situation after Cole’s thrown four straight out of the zone.
The Yankees put a couple of runners aboard again in the second inning, but to no avail. With two outs, Aaron Hicks walked and LeMahieu singled. Cole rebounded to strike out Judge to get out of it.
Cole threw a 1-2-3 third inning, but ran into danger again in the fourth. The Yankees staged a mini two out rally: Gio Urshela and Hicks drew back-to-back walks. However, LeMahieu flew out to center to end the frame.
The fifth was the closest the Yankees got to getting on the board. In another two out rally, Encarnación doubled an Torres walked. That brought up Gregorius, who again swung at a first pitch, but this time seemingly had a three-run dinger off the bat. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Did the de-juiced baseball strike again? Sure looked that way.
Cole may have seemed to be on the ropes, but he finished strong. He retired all six batters he faced in the sixth and seventh frames to end his night. In all though, the Yankees stranded nine runners. I get that Cole is elite and is capable of escaping those sort of jams more often than not, but at some point, a good offense has to make him pay.
The seventh inning mess
At the end of the day, the ugly top of the seventh inning didn’t matter since the Yankees only plated one run. That said, it sort of epitomized an ugly night of baseball for the home team.
Adam Ottavino started the inning against his Game 2 nemesis, George Springer. No homer allowed this time, but Ottavino wound up walking Houston’s leadoff hitter. From there, it was off to the races. Ottavino is notoriously slow to the plate, and everyone knew Springer was gonna run at some point. To make it worse though, Springer and Altuve executed a perfect hit and run on the first pitch to the second baseman.
That was it for Ottavino, who ceded to Zack Britton. Yet another bad outing for Ottavino who has really struggled lately.
Adam Ottavino This Postseason— Katie Sharp (@ktsharp) October 15, 2019
16 batters faced
Britton wasn’t able to put out the fire. Later in the frame, he uncorked a wild pitch and allowed a sacrifice fly to make the score 4-0 at the time.
The lineup needs to be optimized
When the lineups came out early this afternoon, I was very surprised to see Brett Gardner slotted third. I didn’t love EE hitting cleanup either, especially after what I wrote yesterday, but I get hit because of his reputation. Those two went 1-for-8 with 4 runners left on base. Now, hitters six through nine went hitless (but did draw three walks and Didi nearly homered), so it’s not just the three and four hitters’ faults.
Boone tried to explain his batting order after the game:
"We had a few more lefties, so spacing our lefties out is why" – Aaron Boone explains why Brett Gardner hit 3rd, ahead of Gleyber Torres pic.twitter.com/pyJpZZxbtG— Yankees Videos (@snyyankees) October 16, 2019
Frankly, that just makes no sense. Houston didn’t roster one southpaw, so splitting up the left handed hitters shouldn’t matter. Bradford William Davis of the Daily News followed up about this, but Boone danced around it again with not much of a response.
The Yankees only run came in the eighth inning, when Gleyber Torres hit an opposite field homer off Astros’ reliever Joe Smith. That made it 4-1 at the time. For whatever reason, Torres hit fifth tonight after batting third in the first two games. Really just doesn’t make sense to move him down.
- With today’s loss, the Yankees will have to win at least one more game in Houston in order to advance to the World Series.
- After Severino exited, Chad Green and Tommy Kahnle delivered 1 2/3 clean innings before Boone went to Ottavino in the seventh.
- The weather tomorrow looks miserable. Nothing’s been announced yet, but don’t count on Game 4 being played until Thursday. That would push Game 5 to Friday and eliminate the day off between Games 5 and 6.
Hopefully the Yankees can even the series tomorrow, weather permitting. First pitch is scheduled for 8:08pm, but we’ll see about that. Have a good night everyone.