Gerrit Cole brought the Yankees back from the brink. They’re related to the Bronx, they’re still chasing a championship.
Cole gave New York what he needed, seven solid innings and Harrison Bader scored a two-point homer as the Yankees saved their season and forced into a decisive fifth game in the AL Division Series with a win for 4-2 over the Cleveland Guardians in Race 4 on Sunday evening.
“This series is certainly not over and we have bigger goals,” Cole said. “But I’m definitely having fun in life and I love it and can’t wait to move on.”
$ 324 million from New York City, Cole conceded two points and eliminated eight by beating the Guardians for the second time in six days. He didn’t dominate, but Cole kept Cleveland’s batters off base and off-balance.
Bader scored for the third time in the best-of-five series, connecting in the second inning to Cal Quantrill, who remained unbeaten in 44 games at Progressive Field.
After missing Game 3 on Saturday, when the Yankees bullpen had its biggest crash in the team’s legendary post-season history, New York has recovered and headed home.
New York will start Game 2 underdog Jameson Taillon against Aaron Civale on Monday night at Yankee Stadium.
The winner advances to meet Houston in the AL Championship Series.
Josh Naylor has chosen the Guardians, who are looking to end Major League Baseball’s current longest World Series drought in their first year after a franchise name change. Cleveland hasn’t won everything since 1948.
With a history of post-season heartbreak, Cleveland teams are 1-7 in games where the winner takes it all.
“You know if you told me in March, we just signed up to play Game 5 in New York to go to ALCS, I would have jogged in New York,” said Guardians manager Terry Francona. “I’m excited.”
Cole was withdrawn after 110 pitches and Yankees manager Aaron Boone approached Clay Holmes for an eighth. Holmes didn’t launch in Race 3 after Boone decided to shut it down but didn’t say so at the right-hander.
Holmes knocked out Amed Rosario and All-Star José Ramírez in eighth before Wandy Peralta ended up for the rescue. Working his third straight day, Peralta retired three batters on just seven pitches.
“Our guys had that look in their eyes tonight, and it starts with Gerrit,” said first baseman Anthony Rizzo. “It’s a complete victory for us and that’s who we are and these are the victories we need to have.”
The Guardians shouldn’t have been here. But they won AL Central, wiped out Tampa Bay in the wild card round and had the Yankees on the brink of elimination. All the Cleveland kids have to do now is beat the Yankees in baseball’s most hostile environment.
This was the kind of game the Yankees envisioned Cole would launch when they signed him a nine-year contract in 2019 as a free agent after spending two seasons with the Astros.
There was no magic this time around for the Guardians, who overcame a two-run shortfall in Saturday’s ninth inning by winning Game 3 dramatically.
Cleveland not only rallied against the New York bullpen on Saturday, but the Guardians became the first team in 168 games to overcome a multi-run disadvantage and beat the Yankees in the postseason.
The Guardians finished 3-2 in fourth on Naylor’s second post-season homer – and third homer in 17 at-bats – against Cole.
Naylor’s laser on the seats in front of the bullpens sent the Cleveland crowd into a frenzy that got wilder as the animated DH circled the bases swinging his arms back and forth as if he were cradling a baby.
Bader’s 429-foot shot on the bleachers of the left field put the Yankees in a 3-0 lead in the second, and not only gave them momentum, but he believed they would even win the series after losing in Game 3.
The NYC bench exploded with screams and punches as Bader shot first after his fifth career shot in six beats against Quantrill. He also scored in Game 1, when Cole and the Yankees beat Quantrill.
The Guardians went back in the third but lost one more chance when Ramírez got a little too aggressive on the basic courses.
With the runners in first and second place, Ramírez threw a bloop into the left field that scored rookie Steven Kwan. Thinking he had a chance to take an extra base, Ramírez went about halfway through the second before realizing he had no chance and was sent off by retiring to first place.
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