NEW YORK – Houston, here come the Yankees.
Riding off a strong start from lefty Nestor Cortes, the Yankees booked a ticket to the ALCS with a 5-1 victory over the Guardians. The Game 5 victory capped a back-and-forth series where the Yankees faced elimination in Game 4 in Cleveland and the rain delayed multiple contests.
New York now faces off against the Astros in a best-of-seven series that starts in Houston on Wednesday when Justin Verlander and Jameson Taillon go head-to-head in Game 1. During the regular season, the Astros and Yankees finished with the two best records in the American League, respectively, while Houston took five-of-seven games against New York during the regular season.
Giancarlo Stanton put the first runs on the scoreboard in the first inning, hitting a line drive home run on a 87.5 mph cutter from Cleveland starter Aaron Civale over the right field fence, scoring Gleyber Torres and Anthony Rizzo and putting the Yankees on top, 3-0. Civale lasted just one more batter, throwing just 26 pitches and recording a single out before Guardians manager Terry Francona gave him the hook.
Aaron Judge tagged on another run in the second inning, hitting a 81.3 mph curveball from Sam Hentges over the right-center field wall to make the score 4-0. The home run marked Judge’s fourth home-run in a winner-take-all game — the most in major league history – and the 13th homer for the towering slugger in his postseason career, catapulting him past Reggie Jackson and Yogi Berra for the fifth-most home runs in Yankees postseason history.
The Yankees faced a scary moment in the third inning when shortstop Oswaldo Cabrera collided with outfielder Aaron Hicks on a bloop pop-up to left field off the bat of Cleveland outfielder Steven Kwan. Hicks left the game with a left knee injury and underwent an MRI at New York Presbyterian.
Cleveland struck back with their first run of the game later in the third when Cleveland third baseman Jose Ramirez hit a sacrifice fly to center fielder Harrison Bader, scoring Austin Hedges to make the score 4-1. The run proved to be the only offense the Guardians generated in their final game of the season, tallying eight hits while leaving six runners on base and going 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position.
Rizzo tagged on another run for the Yankees in the fifth inning, when he knocked an RBI single to center field off of Guardians reliever James Karinchak to drive in Gleyber Torres, who stole second base to move into scoring position after drawing a walk.
Cortes left the game after the fifth inning after throwing 61 pitches, allowing just three hits, one run, one walk while striking out two batters working off of just four days of rest, last pitching on Friday in Game 2. Throughout the outing, Cortes used a mix of his fastball (54 percent), cutter (26 percent) and slider (16 percent).
The departure of Cortes handed the keys to the Yankees’ fate to the bullpen, which appeared to be the team’s biggest weak spot heading into the postseason. First, Boone called upon Jonathan Loaisiga, who allowed singles to Amed Rosario and Jose Ramirez before getting Oscar Gonzalez, Josh Naylor to ground out before striking out Gabriel Arias to end the sixth inning. Loaisiga returned for another inning finished off the seventh, ending the evening with two innings pitched, allowing three hits allowing no runs or walks while striking out two.
Clay Holmes added to the optimism around the Yankee bullpen, coming into the 8th inning and shutting down the top of the Guardians order in order, striking out Rosario and Gonzalez while inducing a ground out from Ramirez.
Holmes then handed the ball off to Wandy Peralta, who’s become one of Boone’s go-to relievers during the series, pitching in every game against Cleveland. Peralta got Josh Naylor to ground out before allowing a single to Gabriel Arias, striking out Andres Gimenez and allowing a single to Luke Maile. With two runners on, Peralta induced a ground ball to Myles Straw, who grounded in a fielder’s choice and punched New York’s ticket for a matchup against the Astros.
The Yankees and Astros face off in Houston in Game 1 of the ALCS on Wednesday starting at 7:37 p.m.
Read the original article