On the Ropes — ALCS Game 4: Houston 8 NY 3

The Yankees are on the ropes. They need to win 3 games in a row against Houston. Not impossible. Each game thus far has been winnable for them. But they’re going to need to get their hitting sticks out and — SCORE RUNS.

A Good Start

On this cold October Thursday night in the Bronx, with the HEAVY winds of the day (due to the Northeasterner that cancelled baseball the night before) having calmed down by evening — the Yanks got on top in the 1st inning against Zack Greinke when Brett Gardner walked with bases loaded.

The Yanks were on the verge of scoring a lot of RUNS. But Gary Sanchez came up and struck out badly swinging at a pitch in the dirt for strike 3. Yankee Twitter started wondering why, with a .095 batting average, 1) Austin Romine wasn’t playing and 2) why Sanchez was batting as high as 7th, with Gio Urshela and Didi Gregorius behind him in the lineup. Alex Rodriguez, analyst on the National post-game broadcast, said the Yankees strategy of shuffling the lineup due to analytics was hurting the hitters, especially Gleyber Torres. He said  messing with the lineup ‘discourages’ players.

Tanaka Allowed 3-Run Homer But Overall Did His Job

Masahiro Tanaka was sharp early, but got in trouble in the 3rd on a leadoff walk, single, and then 3-run homer to George Springer. That devastated Yankee Twitter and when Tanaka gave up consecutive singles after the home run to put runners on 1st and 3rd with nobody out, it looked like doom. But Tanaka worked out of it with no further runs — a groundout back to the pitcher to get the runner on 3rd trying to score, and then a fly out to Aaron Judge in right whom Houston did NOT run on.

Turning Point — Yanks Loaded Bases with 1 Out in the 5th

Down 3-1, the Yanks chased Greinke in the 5th with a DJ LeMahieu single and Aaron Judge walk, and then Aaron Hicks walked against Ryan Pressly to load the bases with 1 out. But Pressly struck out Gleyber Torres and Edwin Encarnacion — a turning point in the game.

Houston Builds Big Lead

DJ LeMahieu had a rough evening at 1st base — making 2 errors on grounders. He made one on Alex Bregman leading off the 6th and Tanaka was gone. Chad Green came in and allowed a single and then 3-run homer to Carlos Correa and it was 6-1. Devastation.

Tanaka ended up pitching 5 innings, 4 hits, 3 runs. The 3-run homer was tough but he did his job.

Down 6-1, Gary Sanchez hit a 2-run homer in the 6th against Josh James and it was a ballgame again — 6-3. The Yankees needed RUNS.

More Yankee ERRORS & Goodbye CC

In the 8th, Adam Ottavino came in and allowed an immediate double by Alex Bregman, then Carlos Correa hit a grounder to LeMahieu at first and he made his second error. CC Sabathia came in — with the Yanks on the ropes — and got a groundball to 2nd by Yordan Alvarez, but Gleyber Torres made an error on it to make it 7-3 Houston and ballgame.

CC left the game with an injury. According to Buster Olney, “When teammates went to the mound to check on CC Sabathia, he told them of his shoulder: ‘It popped.’ He tried the one warm-up pitch, said ‘I’m done,’ and walked off the field in pain. Teammates said it was hard to see him in pain after the game.” It looked like it would be the last time CC would be on a MLB ballfield.

Houston tacked on a run in the 9th on another Gleyber Torres error to make the final score 8-3. The Yanks got a runner on in the 8th and 9th but never came close to challenging. Will Harris, Joe Smith, and Roberto Osuna shut them out the last 3 innings.


There are 3 teams left playing baseball, and the Yankees are one of them. They need to win 3 in a row — Friday night in the Bronx, and then 2 in Houston — the next two against Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole. But the Yankee offense put runners on the bases against them. They need to break through.

The Boxscore


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