by John Walters

Stars And Pinstripes

Quick thoughts on the Yankees outlasting the Indians Guardians, three games to two:

•If it seemed as if Aaron Judge had a subpar series, he really did not. Judge homered once every 2.5 games this season, which is exactly what he did in this series. Sure, he struck out a lot, but as a team the Yankees whiffed 53 times. That’s an average of 10.6 strikeouts per contest. The entire lineup struck out too often.

• The Guardians had more hits (44 to 28), while the Yankees had nearly twice as many walks (17 to 9). Add them together and the Guardians got on base 53 times to the Yankees 45. That’s, oddly enough, the exact number the opposing team struck out: the Guardians whiffed 45 times to the Yankees 53. So the Yanks struck out more and reached base less often but they won. Why? The long ball. The Yankees hit nine home runs to the Indians three, and thusly scored 20 runs (4 per game) to the Indians’ 14 (less than 3 per game).

• The epitome of Yankee offense this series? Giancarlo Stanton, who went 2 for 16 and struck out six times, more than one in every three at-bats. But Stanton’s two hits were home runs and his six RBI led all players. Stanton’s three-run bomb in the first inning of Game 5 proved the series’ knockout blow.

• Don’t know why Terry Francona started Aaron Civale. It was a calculated risk: stay close through five innings and then let your far superior bullpen take over. The problem was, the Yankees were aware of the strategy and so came out extra fired up to take an early lead. After four batters and a 3-0 lead, the game was basically over. As Bob Costas intoned over the TBS broadcast, decades from now Civale will be able to say he struck out the single-season home run king in a big playoff game (which he did), but then he’ll want to quickly change the subject. In our minds, the fault here lies with Francona: Civale had not pitched in 13 days and never in the postseason. We’d have taken a shot with our top relievers early and hope to grab a lead. Then the pressure flips over to the heavily favored Yanks. Moreover, we still don’t understand how Nestor Cortes was able to pitch on three days’ rest while Shane Bieber was not.

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