Nothing quite gets these Yankees going like telling them, “You can’t.”
The Yankees have heard it all year. They weren’t supposed to contend. Nor were they picked to finish second in the American League East. Hardly anyone pegged them to advance further than the ALDS, especially after dropping the first two games in a best-of-five series, against the 102-win Cleveland Indians.
They kick-started their ALCS in similar fashion, this time losing a pair of one-run contests against the Houston Astros. But after the Yanks’ thumping of the ‘Stros on Monday and Tuesday’s come-from-behind stunner, the ALCS is now tied, 2-2.
When the top of the seventh concluded, the Yankees were staring at a 4-0 deficit. Their bats had shown minimal life. Starter Sonny Gray had long departed, with zero run support. And the thought of being down three-games-to-one was materializing into a daunting reality.
But the tables began to turn when Aaron Judge launched a tall solo blast to center field, injecting adrenaline into a sold-out Yankee Stadium. Didi Gregorius, perhaps GM Brian Cashman’s greatest trade return of the decade, followed with a triple, and later scored on a sacrifice fly, cutting the Astros’ lead in half.
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After Chad Green stymied Houston’s offense in the eighth, Todd Frazier was due up first in the bottom half.
Watching Frazier this postseason with the Yankees, he seems like a kid in a candy store. Teammates find him cheering them on, often from outside the dugout, jumping around with the notorious thumbs-down celebration. So it was fitting that “The Toddfather” singled to ignite the Yanks’ four-run rally.
One hit and two batters later, the lineup turned over to Judge. Entering the night, the Yankees desperately needed Judge and Gary Sánchez to snap out of their funks.
Judge knocked in the game-tying run with a double, just missing his second homer of the night; and Sánchez drove the nail in the coffin two batters later with a two-run double. When those two are hitting, the team is winning.
Aroldis Chapman shut the door on the Astros with a clean ninth inning, solidifying the eighth-inning rally as a turning point for the Bombers.
With an evened series, the Yankees will host one more game in the Bronx, where they are undefeated so far this postseason, before the ALCS returns to Houston.
Game 5 will be an anticipated rematch between Game 1’s starters, Houston’s Dallas Keuchel and New York’s Masahiro Tanaka. The action resumes Wednesday at 5 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1.