‘Work cut out for us’: Yanks fall into ALDS tie

NEW YORK — The Yankees never expected to fast-forward through the American League Division Series; they have too much respect for the Guardians and the overall level of competition in what manager Aaron Boone calls “the highest level in the land” to voice thoughts along that line. But they sure hoped their road might be easier than this.

Giancarlo Stanton’s early home run suggested that the Yankees could blast their way to a healthy series advantage, but the Bombers’ bats went quiet. Instead, a couple of weakly struck 10th-inning bloops found grass as the Yankees fell to the Guardians, 4-2, in Friday’s Game 2 at Yankee Stadium, tying the best-of-five ALDS at one win apiece.

Giancarlo Stanton’s two-run homer
“We’ve had adversity throughout this whole long season on our way to winning the division,” said Aaron Judge, who struck out four times and is hitless in the ALDS (0-for-8, seven strikeouts, one walk). “This isn’t anything new to us. We’ve got the guys in this room to go out there and finish this job.”

• ‘I have a job to do’: Judge’s issues vs. Guardians continue

In Division Series with the current 2-2-1 format (excluding the 2020 series played at neutral sites), there have been 39 previous instances of teams splitting the first two games. In those 39 series, the club heading home for Games 3 and 4 advanced 26 times (67%).

Aaron Boone talks Game 2 loss
“We never thought this was going to be easy,” said Boone. “We’ll get on that plane [to Cleveland]and go try to grab one tomorrow. Nothing changes for us. Nothing’s been easy for us this year, especially in the second half of the season.”

Stanton’s first-inning homer comprised the Yankees’ offensive output, marking the 10th playoff blast of his career. Stanton was noticeably irked when a 3-1 pitch low and away was called a strike by home-plate umpire Jeremie Rehak; Stanton deposited Shane Bieber’s next pitch into the right-field seats for a two-run homer.

Field view of Stanton’s homer
“You’ve got to lock it back in,” Stanton said. “If I stayed worried about that, I wouldn’t have been able to hit that homer.”

That was where Bieber clamped the floodgates, a trademark for a Cleveland team that has pinned its hopes upon pitching and timely hitting. Though fan-favorite Nestor Cortes held Cleveland to two runs over five innings in his playoff debut, the Yanks managed only six hits in the game, five off Bieber, who lasted 5 2/3 innings.

• Cortes confesses: ‘I should have been better’

Nestor Cortes’ solid outing
Oct 14, 2022 · 0:47
Nestor Cortes’ solid outing
Cortes promised that the Yankees would “punch back” in Game 3, but it is notable that Judge’s historic regular season has thus far not carried over into the playoffs. So far in the ALDS, Judge is hitless with seven strikeouts, the last of which prompted some boos from a crowd of 47,535 — a scene that would’ve been unthinkable a week ago.
Nestor Cortes’ incredible play
“He’s going to be fine,” Stanton said. “We’ve got two out of three to win, and he’s going to help us do that.”

Boone scanned his lineup card, hoping for someone to break through with a big October moment. The Yanks sent up Matt Carpenter to hit with two men on in the sixth, the mustachioed veteran’s first at-bat since fracturing his left foot on Aug. 8. Carpenter struck out against Trevor Stephan, a former Yankee farmhand lost to Cleveland in the 2020 Rule 5 Draft.

“I wanted him to win the game,” Boone said. “That’s our shot right there. You can’t always wait around. You’ll start waiting forever.”

Against Cleveland’s bullpen, the Yanks hardly put the ball in play; their only baserunner not to reach on a walk was Anthony Rizzo, who lofted a ninth-inning single off closer Emmanuel Clase. New York loaded the bases with three eighth-inning walks against James Karinchak before Clase retired Kyle Higashioka to end the frame on a lineout that snapped a string of nine straight Yankees to either walk or strike out.

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“It was just a tough day all around,” Isiah Kiner-Falefa said. “We were unable to get the big hit we needed.”

The Yankees have enjoyed 23 previous walk-off postseason wins in their storied history, but none since Raul Ibanez ended Game 3 of the 2012 ALDS against the Orioles with a 12th-inning homer. There was no new chapter to write on Friday; instead, the Guardians pulled ahead, taking advantage of soft contact.
With Jameson Taillon making his first career relief appearance after 143 previous starts, José Ramírez hit a pop-fly double in front of left fielder Oswaldo Cabrera, who slid but could not corral the ball. Third baseman Josh Donaldson’s errant throw to second base allowed Ramírez to advance, and Oscar Gonzalez knocked in the go-ahead run with a bloop single to right over a drawn-in infield.

Josh Naylor doubled over the head of center fielder Harrison Bader as Cleveland padded its advantage, offering a reminder no one in the Yanks’ dugout needed.

“We’ve got our work cut out for us,” Donaldson said. “We knew it was going to be a fight.”