Only one Major League Baseball team has come back from an 0-3 deficit to win the final four games, which New York Yankees fans remember not so fondly. It was in 2004 in the AL Championship series against the Boston Red Sox, and that comeback lives in baseball lore, especially in Boston.
If the Yankees want to avoid becoming the second team to have to do that, they will need Gerritt Cole to be their $324 million man late this afternoon in the Bronx, as they try to win one single game against the Houston Astros, their current nemesis.
Cole will be pitching for the first time in this series and the first time since last Sunday, when he struck out eight against the Cleveland Guardians to help them stave off elimination in Game 4 of their ALDS series. The Yankees went on to win Game 5 of that series, which is why they are playing today against an Astros team that has had their number for the better part of a decade.
The first pitch will be thrown at 5:07 p.m. EDT on what should be a beautiful Saturday evening in New York, and the Astros will counter with 25-year-old right hander Christian Javier, who has not started since Oct. 1 when he allowed only two hits and two walks in six innings. Javier does not make “Cole money,” but he is no slouch. He has been the victor in his last six starts, and he picked up another “W” when he he pitched the seventh inning prior to the ‘Stros five-run eruption in the final two innings of their Game 1 victory over Seattle in Game 1 of the ALDS.
The Mariners bring in Robbie Ray — a starting pitcher — to try to close it out with 2 outs and a 7-5 lead.
2 pitches later…
YORDAN ÁLVAREZ CRUSHES A WALK-OFF 3-RUN HOMER TO GIVE THE ASTROS A GAME 1 WIN! pic.twitter.com/HvhDQ1EEkL
— The Comeback (@thecomeback) October 11, 2022
And let’s face it, if the Yankees keep averaging 15 strikeouts per game with a team batting average of .138, they may need perfection from Cole tonight in the Bronx. And let’s not forget: Jameson Taillon took a perfect game into the eighth and Cole took one into the seventh back in June in back-to-back games against the Tigers.
Of course, the Tigers were a team that finished 30 games under .500, and the Astros finished 50 games over .500. So let’s just say the competition is a little tougher late this afternoon.
How Much Pressure is on Cole?
But the Yankees are going with their ace, and they are favored by 1 1/2 runs as a result. Cole pitched once against the Astros this season, and Javier was the opposing starting pitcher. The Yankees were on the wrong end of a no-hitter that day, with Javier going seven innings and Hector Narris and Ryan Pressly working an inning apiece.
A combined no-hitter for the Astros AT Yankee Stadium
Javier Neris Pressly
(via @MLB) pic.twitter.com/ywmLtFiT45
— B/R Walk-Off (@BRWalkoff) June 25, 2022
Javier had 13 strikeouts that day, which Yankees fans may remember would like to forget — especially after they whiffed 13 times in Game 2, including a checked-swing K by pinch-hitter Matt Carpenter with the tying run on first base to end the game. Aaron Boone should have taken our Crazy Glue advice.
Why Is Matt Carpenter Paid to Play Baseball?
Carpenter now has seven strikeouts in seven at-bats in this series, yet there is no truth to the rumor that the Yankees left him in Houston and got him a job at Goode Company BBQ as the designated meat smoker. That is probably good news for that restaurant, which would have been dealing with a batch of burned brisket this evening if Carpenter had been the cook.
Aaron Judge has 12 strikeouts, Josh Donaldson has 11, and Oswaldo Cabrera has 10, which means we are all learning that there is some irony in the term “Bronx Bombers.” As a team, the Yankees have 83 strikeouts and 74 total bases, which does not resemble anything like a winning ratio formula. They have no .300 hitters and four guys with batting averages in the .200s this postseason, and that includes the five games against the Guardians.
The Astros’ pitchers have been dominating them, and Cole if fails tonight they will have to try to avoid a sweep against a guy who pitched six innings of two-hit ball in their 18-inning 1-0 victory over Seattle last Saturday when Dusty Baker used eight pitchers to hold the Mariners to seven hits.
Lance McCullers Jr. will start Game 4 of the ALCS. pic.twitter.com/Yn4WkHJqgM
— Houston Astros (@astros) October 21, 2022
But that assumes there is no rainout with the first pitch scheduled to be thrown at 7:07 p.m., and that is no guarantee, according to The Weather Channel:
If there is a postponement, Baker could choose to use Justin Verlander in Game 4, and the 39-year-old former Cy Young winner struck out 17 Yankees in the opener. Not only that, he defeated the Yankees in the Bronx on June 4 of this season, he faced the Yankees twice in the 2019 postseason and had 16 strikeouts and just two walks, and he defeated the Yankees twice in the 2017 postseason and had 21 strikeouts and just two walks.
So the first bet that Yankees fans need to make it that the weatherman is wrong … and that is usually a decent bet. The last thing the Yankees need is for Mother Nature to enable three starts by Verlander if they somehow manage a victory today, there is a rainout Sunday and the series goes seven games.
What Should We Expect in Today’s Game?
Cole came through with flying colors in Game 4 against the Guardians when the Yankees were on the brink of elimination, striking out eight in seven innings and scattering six hits. Clay Holmes and Jose Peralta both got their jobs done efficiently working the eighth and ninth innings, and the Yankees lived another day.
But the Guardians did not have the same level of pitching staff that the Astros have, and the Yankees were hitting the ball at least three times as well against Cleveland as they are against Houston. Boone has limited options in terms of changing up his lineup, and he has already played one of his remaining cards: Making Oswald Peraza the starting shortstop and moving Isaiah Kiner-Falefa to the bench, where he chews bubble gum with Carpenter.
Peraza is the second-best shortstop prospect in the Yankee’ system, but the 22-year-old went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts in Game 2. He hit .306 in 49 at-bats during the regular season, so he is one of the few hitting hopes the Yankees have.
Aaron Judge has not hit a home run since the closeout game against the Guardians, and he was 1-for-8 in Houston, but at least stopped striking out at a prodigious rate. During the regular season there were 17 instances when he went three or more games without a home run, and Yankees fans need to hope that number does not reach 18. They have other home run hitters, but this guy broke the AL record and needs to step up. He is hitting .179 in the postseason, with 12 strikeouts and five hits.
If he hits another deep to right in Yankee Stadium as he did to end Game 2, it clears the right field porch. So at least the Yankees have that.
Aaron Boone wasn't a fan of the open roof last night. He said Aaron Judge's flyout in the 8th inning would have been a home run if the wind didn't keep it in.#astros #alcs #postseason #levelup pic.twitter.com/9YYrLWly3h
— SportsTalk 790 (@SportsTalk790) October 21, 2022
How Should This Be Wagered?
Cole has had at least eight strikeouts in his last three starts, and Fan Duel is offering three Colecentric options: Cole to have 8+ strikeouts in a Yankees win is +330; Cole to have 9+ strikeouts in a Yankees win is +550, and Cole to have 10+ strikeouts in a Yankees win is +1100.
Caesars has an “Aaron Judge to Homer” boost that puts those odds at +300 (they are +175 at DraftKings); BetRivers will give you a +1200 line on the Yankees winning the next four; PointsBet has no booster bets involving Yankees, while WynnBet, Resorts World and DraftKings have not posted any Yankees specials, and BetMGM was down this morning, falling victim to the “nothing works the way it is supposed to” pitfall.
Our advice to Yankees fans after watching the Astros manhandle them for this entire series and for the past half-decade is to go out and enjoy the weather, and turn your attention to Giants and Jets betting if that itch needs to be scratched. Lets face it, the Yankees are trending down and the two NYC metropolitan area football clubs are trending up, as we wrote about yesterday.
If Cole makes it 2-1, the tide may have turned, and we will cover that tomorrow if that is indeed the case and the weather forecast changes. Meantime. take solace in the fact that the Knicks and Nets both won at home last night, and the temperature in NYC may just hit 70 today. It is a great day to get out and have some fun prior to Cole’s first pitch tonight, when it will be time to hold your breath. So enjoy, and breathe easy while you still can.
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