Here are three mistakes Yankees manager Aaron Boone can’t be allowed make for the rest of the playoffs.
The Yankees could only muster five hits against Tyler Glasnow and the Rays’ lights out bullpen in Game 2 on Tuesday night, so fans should really be thrilled that they remained within striking distance for seemingly all nine innings after JA Happ’s disastrous cameo.
That, of course, can be traced back to the fact that Giancarlo Stanton continued his hot start to the playoffs, smacking two home runs, which included a mammoth 118.3 MPH three-run blast in the top of the fourth inning to bring the Yankees back within one run.
That made four dingers for Stanton in each of New York’s first four playoff games, and he became just the second player in MLB history (Juan Gonzalez was the other) to smack five homers in the first four games of a postseason. Unfortunately for the Yankees slugger, he didn’t receive much of any help from his teammates, as Rays pitchers combined to strike out an impossible 18 batters.
Of course, in Game 3, it was more of the same: Ridiculous offense from the bottom of the Rays’ order, poor pitching from the Yankees, and Giancarlo Stanton muscling up. And now, after taking a 1-0 series lead, the Yanks are on the brink of elimination.
We have zero doubts that the offense (as a whole) will be alert with their backs against the wall in Game 4. What we don’t have as much conviction in, however, is whether manager Aaron Boone will correct some of his most glaring mistakes, which have been on full display through the first several games of the postseason.
If the Yankees stand a chance at reversing things and capturing their 28th World Series title in franchise history, here are three that simply cannot continue.
3. Continuing to Start Gary Sanchez
Game 2 of the ALDS proved that Gary Sanchez doesn’t deserve to start in the playoffs.
The Gary Sanchez-apologist clan must be dwindling with each passing game, because he currently looks lost both at and behind the plate. In Game 2 of the ALDS, the slumping catcher finished 0-for-4 with three strikeouts and (per usual) fell victim to a handful of passed balls behind the dish.
For so many reasons, Kyle Higashioka was the unsung hero of the Yankees’ convincing series-opening win over Tampa Bay. He finished 2-for-4 with a huge home run to tie the game in the top of the fifth inning, but that wasn’t even his greatest contribution.
On top of making numerous clutch blocks on pitches in the dirt, the 30-year-old vet made a ridiculous catch after being crossed up on a bowel-locking breaking ball from Gerrit Cole with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom half of fifth. Keep in mind that the Yankees took the lead in the top half of that inning on an Aaron Judge laser beam, so Higashioka catching that pitch ensured that their momentum, which is colossally important in the playoffs, didn’t flame out.
Chances are that Sanchez lets that pitch roll to the backstop and the Rays not only tie the game, but potentially score more runs after keeping their rally alive, spoiling Cole’s dominant outing in the process. We all know Higashioka’s defense is vastly superior to that of Sanchez, but the fact that he can actually put the ball in play and produce runs proves that he deserves to start over the two-time All-Star from here on out. It happened it Game 3. It better keep happening.