Astros-Yankees: Costly outfield error clears way for two-run Houston homer off Gerrit Cole in Game 3

Chas McCormick hit his second home run of the series

The Astros jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the second inning Saturday afternoon in Game 3 of the ALCS, and we could give the Yankees an assist. The Astros would tack on later and the Yankees never scored, as the Astros won 5-0 to take a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

That means the game-winning hit came after the costly error.

Yankees starter Gerrit Cole struck out the side in a relatively easy first inning and then it looked like a quick 1-2-3 in the second. Instead, a miscommunication between center fielder Harrison Bader and right fielder Aaron Judge kept the inning alive.

It sure looks like Judge was at fault there for crossing in front of Bader’s line of sight. Even judging from his body language, you can see he knew he messed up as it was happening. After the game, he took the blame.

“We were both going for it, both calling for it,” Judge said (via SNY Yankees). “And then at the last second I hear him and I’m trying to get out of the way, so I think I definitely messed him up on that play. I gotta take responsibility for that, he’s the center fielder, when he calls it I gotta drop and get out of the way.”

Of note, Christian Vázquez did technically leave the baseline when he thought Bader caught the ball, but he didn’t stray far and there was no play on him in the infield. It didn’t affect the play at all. You’re never gonna get that call on the defensive side.

Gifting an offense as powerful as the Astros an extra out is never a good idea and it immediately exploded in the Yankees’ faces. Chas McCormick enjoyed the notorious Yankee Stadium right-field porch here:

Just like that, it was 2-0 Astros.

Though the runs were unearned, that’s the ninth straight playoff game in which Cole has allowed a home run. That’s an MLB record (via ESPN Stats and Info). Cole would end up allowing five runs, three earned, in five innings. He struck out seven and walked two while giving up five hits. He left with the bases loaded in the sixth and reliever Lou Trivino would allow all three inherited runners to score, pushing Cole’s runs allowed up to five on the day.

McCormick homered 14 times in the regular season. Before this series, he had 36 career playoff plate appearances and had never homered. He now already has two in the ALCS.

The Astros, meanwhile, have a commanding lead and are just one win away from their fourth AL pennant in the last six years.