Aaron Boone, the manager of the Yankees, referred to Gerrit Cole’s struggles with home runs during the regular season as a “bugaboo” the day before Game 1 of the American League division series, which was played between the Yankees and Guardians.
But Cole, who had surrendered an American League-high 33 home runs in 2022, including 12 over the course of his past eight starts, restricted the Yankees’ greatest worry to a solitary drive by Steven Kwan in a win by the score of 4-1. The right-handed Cole battled for six and one-third innings, refusing to give up despite being derailed by two home runs and some early questionable fielding. In his 101 pitches, Cole only allowed one walk and four hits while striking out eight of the Guardians. Kwan’s home run in the third inning was the only one that caused any damage.
Cole’s disappointing — if not solid — regular season and his disastrous performance in the 2021 wild-card game in Boston are now in the past thanks to the performance, at least for the time being.
Even if home runs were a concern for Cole going into the game on Tuesday, they were a far bigger problem for the starter for Cleveland, Cal Quantrill.
Harrison Bader, a native of Bronxville, New York, opened the scoring for the Yankees with a solo home run in the third inning. This was Bader’s first home run for the Yankees since the Cardinals sent him to the Yankees in August as part of a trade. After that, first baseman Anthony Rizzo hit a blast into the second deck in the sixth inning, scoring two runs and getting the right-handed Quantrill removed from the game.
After the game, during a long press conference, Bader attempted to minimise his ties to the community, despite the fact that he had spent his childhood attending Yankees games and had played in front of family and friends on Tuesday.
After shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa had advanced to third base in the fifth inning, catcher Jose Trevino added to the scoring with a sacrifice fly of his own.
After Josh Donaldson admired a ball that he believed had cleared the right field short porch, the Yankees were able to breathe a sigh of relief after that run gave them a 2-1 lead at the moment. Also, the Yankees were able to take the lead. Instead, the ball made contact with the top of the wall and continued rolling down the field. Donaldson was unable to correct his error in time, therefore Cleveland made the decision to exclude him from the game.
In spite of the absence of many important players, including shortstop DJ LeMahieu and the right-handed reliever Scott Effross, the Yankees were able to pull off the victory in Game 1. Due to their injury, neither player was selected for the team’s All-Star squad.
Although there was always the possibility that LeMahieu wouldn’t make the team, the omission of Effross from the ALDS squad came as somewhat of a surprise at first. After then, it was disclosed that he need surgery on his Tommy John.
Effross, a 28-year-old rookie who was acquired from the Cubs in another pre-deadline transaction, most likely would have closed several playoff games for an already troubled bullpen. Effross was acquired from the Cubs.
Boone described the event as a devastating loss. “You should feel awful for him. He is suffering some emotional distress as a result of it. It’s a terrible blow. I’m trying to explain, but Scotty came over here and pitched quite effectively. You know, I believe that he was going to play a pretty major part for us in our bullpen, but at this point, all we really need to do is provide him with some help and get him back on track. And let’s hope that everything goes well over there. Someone else, you must be aware, is going to have to take up the slack here.”
Before the game, Boone was also questioned about the former closer of the club, Aroldis Chapman, who was not included on the roster for the division series because he did not show up to a required workout the previous week. Even though Chapman had a rough season due to injuries and inconsistent play, and even though General Manager Brian Cashman made some cutting remarks about the former star reliever, Manager Aaron Boone did not completely rule out the possibility of bringing Chapman back if the Yankees were to advance past this round.
On Tuesday, the Yankees’ bullpen staff prevailed despite the absence of Effross and Chapman. Jonathan Loaisiga, Wandy Peralta, and Clay Holmes — the latter two having just returned from their own ailments — kept the Guardians at bay after Cole was removed from the game.
The Yankees have said that they will use a bullpen that is missing numerous key parts by using a combination of different players. The first game went according to plan, but Boone reminded everyone that “it’s all hands on deck,” and that “everyone is going to have to play an essential part on a given night.”