The 2015 baseball season has come to a sudden end for the New York Yankees. The result was a dull, flat, and uninspired performance by the so-called Bronx Bombers as they lost, 3-0, to the youthful team from Texas, the Houston Astros.
As the New York Post back cover implies – the once proud, the once mighty, and the once feared Yanks have gone from Heroes to Zeroes. In a blink of an eye, about the same amount of time it takes Brett Gardner to swing and miss a third strike, the season concluded. What went wrong?
The last few days have been excruciating for the Yankee faithful. First the team disappeared in Baltimore by getting swept by the O’s in the regular season’s last weekend. Then came C.C.’s announcement that he would forgo the playoffs as he felt that he had to immediately check himself into an alcohol rehab center.
Yet, not only did the Yankees still make the playoffs, they also won one more game than did the Astros over the course of the long season, which gave the Yankees the home field ‘advantage’ for the one and done playoff between the two wild card teams.
So the stage was set. Yanks vs the Astros at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday night. As Yankee starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka readied himself for the game’s first pitch, the stadium was alive with the high buzz of the energized fans in attendance who were there ready to cheer the locals home. It may be trite, and even a cliché, but there’s no better way to describe the atmosphere at Yankee Stadium as ‘electric’ as the game began.
Tanaka looked good in the first inning. His plan was to not show the Astros his often unhittable sinker until he had the batters in an unfavorable pitch count. He attacked high and hard. He fanned Jose Altuve by getting him to swing at two high hard offerings – both of which were out the strike zone, before getting the diminutive second baseman to chase a sinker that was low, outside, and certainly well off the plate. George Springer had a similar result as Tanaka employed the same policy. Correa skied out to centerfield.
In the bottom of the first Gardy struck out, and then Chris Young walked. Beltran forced the runner at second, and Alex Rodriguez fanned. The Yankees were facing Astro lefty Dallas Keuchel, the likely Cy Young winner for the American League. The Yankees may not have looked overmatched in the first inning, but this was hardly an auspicious beginning.