'Cinderella season' ends for Yankees after game seven ALCS loss to Astros
The New York Yankees ended the season, just one win away from the World Series, only one year after the front office teared the team down and planned to rebuild.
The Yankees were not expected to go far this season, however, the postseason could not elude the Yankees, and the team returned to the Bronx well ahead of schedule. It was just two years ago that it looked like the New York Mets would be the best team in the city for years to come.
In 2015, the Yankees were lucky to make the wild-ard game, while the Mets made it to the World Series. However, the tides have turned, and now it is the Yankees that looked poised to be perennial contenders.
The Yankees began the American League Championship Series against the Houston Astros the same way they did against the Cleveland Indians, and fell behind 2-0 in the series. The team then returned to the friendly confines of Yankee Stadium, where fans’ energy has been at its highest since the late 1990s championship runs. Against the Indians, it was the pitching that turned the Yankees around at home. This time it was the team’s MVP, Aaron Judge.
Judge uplifted a stagnant offense that scored 2 runs in the first two games. In Game 3, Judge came up with a big 3-run home run that blew the game open for the Yankees, in an 8-1 victory. The next night, in Game 4, Judge hit a solo shot in the seventh inning to put the Yankees on the board, and force the Astros’ susceptible bullpen to preserve a three run lead. In the eighth inning, Judge hit a game tying double to left, erasing a 4-0 deficit. There was no turning back from there, as the Yankees won 6-4 in Game 4 to tie the series at 2.
In Game 5, Yankees killer Dallas Keuchel took the mound. Keuchel entered the game having given up only 7 runs in 57 2/3 innings. He exited with his worst performance against the Yanks, giving up 4 runs. That would be more than enough for the Yankees, as Masahiro Tanaka pitched seven shutout innings in a 5-0 victory. The Yankees headed back to Houston with a 3-2 lead in the series.
In Game 6, Justin Verlander, one of the best pitchers in this generation, took the mound for the Astros. Coming off a dominating complete game victory in Game 2, Verlander picked up where he left off, throwing 7 shutout innings. However, Luis Severino matched Verlander pitch-for-pitch for 4 innings, until the Astros got 3 runs in the fifth. Judge hit a long home run to put the Yankees on the board, and cut the Astros lead to 2 runs. However, the Astros quickly blew the game open by scoring 4 runs in the bottom of the eighth. The Astros won 7-1, tying the series at 3 and forcing a Game 7.
In Game 7, the Yankees season came to an end. C.C. Sabathia entered the game 10-0 with a 1.69 ERA in starts following a Yankees loss. However, Sabathia did not have his best stuff, as he gave up 5 hits and 3 walks in three and one third innings. The Yankees were outmatched as they mustered just 3 hits in the game. Lance McCullers relieved a dominant performance by Charlie Morton, and pitched a 4 inning save to clinch the pennant for the Astros. The Yankees lost the game 4-0 and finished their season just one win away from a trip to the World Series.
The big story of this series was home field advantage. The home team won all seven games, with the road team getting just eight runs in the seven game series. For the Yankees it was Judge who set the tone for the offense at home, and for the Astros it was former Yankee Brian McCann who delivered the big hits at home, in consecutive elimination games.