Entering 2022, the Yankees’ motto — in accordance with their official hype video — was “No Excuses”. They were tired of playing second fiddle. They were tired of spinning their wheels attempting to justify one-run losses and bullpen meltdowns. This season, once and for all, they were ready to impose their will on the league and let their play do the talking.
In the first half, it worked. A relatively ragtag group of role players perfectly supplemented the team’s crown jewels en route to a 61-23 peak, putting this year’s Yankees on a record-setting pace, and the rival Astros in the rear view.
Even when positivity was overwhelming, though, cracks began to show. Gerrit Cole, on Opening Day, couldn’t help but blame Billy Crystal for a four-minute first pitch delay that threw off his first-inning rhythm. Josh Donaldson mouthed off at Tim Anderson and created a firestorm, the textbook definition of talking out of turn. There were a few show-ups on the mound after errors here, a couple home shutouts against Houston there … all was not quiet on the excuse front.
And … smash cut to Thursday night, when the Yankees suffered yet another one-run playoff loss in Houston’s Minute Maid Park, their eighth in nine tries.
The power of that statistic was so overwhelming that, in a game where Alex Bregman tattooed an inside fastball with two strikes, two on, and two outs — as he always does — while Aaron Judge saw his potential lead-snatching liner die at the wall, starter Luis Severino couldn’t help but equate the two in the postgame scrum, calling the Astros “lucky”.
Yankees’ Luis Severino, Kyle Higashioka call Astros lucky in Game 2
With all due respect … come on, man.
Severino, as always, was gutsy and opened the first inning blazing his fastball past the Astros. It seemed like, for once, he might be en route to the dominant playoff start fans have long been waiting for.
It all unraveled on one pitch in the third, though, and say what you will about Bregman’s exit velocity — and the team clearly plans to say plenty! — but the fastball was in the wrong spot. Severino tried to come in. He didn’t come in enough. Bregman poked it high in the air and into the Crawford Boxes, something he loves to do. The third baseman took what the Yankees gave him. Simple as that.
Apparently, Kyle Higashioka had more to say.
Exit velocity disparity or not, calling a team that’s beaten you in eight of the last nine home playoff games “lucky” comes off entitled and misses the mark.
Skill defeats luck, and it’s obvious the Astros have more of that, too.
The wind or any other outside forces taking down Aaron Judge’s home run doesn’t change the fact that there were ample other opportunities for the Yankees to take control of this game, and instead, they went down meekly and served Bregman a pitch in his happy zone on a silver platter.
Maybe “No Excuses” starts in Game 3. So far, the Yankees have preferred an unsuccessful “All Excuses” strategy.