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Yankees capitalize on mistakes, beat Indians 7-3 in ALDS Game 4

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The Yankees punished the Indians for their defensive miscues, earning a 7-3 victory in Game 4 of the ALDS on Monday night at Yankee Stadium, forcing a Game 5. The Indians uncharacteristically committed four errors, something they didn’t do once during the regular season.

Third baseman Giovanny Urshela was in the lineup strictly for his defense at third base, but he committed a costly error in the bottom of the second inning which helped the Yankees hang a four-spot on the board. With one out, Urshela booted a Starlin Castro grounder. During Todd Frazier‘s at-bat, Roberto Perez allowed Castro to advance to second base on a passed ball. Frazier then doubled to bring Castro home, breaking the scoreless tie. Aaron Hicks knocked in Frazier with a single and Gardner added a single of his own, putting runners at first and third. Gardner stole second and promptly scored along with Hicks on a well-struck double to left field by Aaron Judge to make it 4-0. Indians starter Trevor Bauer intentionally walked Didi Gregorius before exiting the game with two outs in the second.

With the bases loaded and two out in the bottom of the third, Brett Gardner slapped a grounder to Urshela at third base. Urshela briefly glanced at second base but realized he didn’t have a play there, then hurried a throw to first base. It was high, pulling Carlos Santana off the bag and allowing the Yankees to score another run.

The Indians, to their credit, did not roll over against Yankees starter Luis Severino. Carlos Santana drilled a two-run home run to center field in the top of the fourth to cut the deficit to 5-2. Roberto Perez added a solo home run in the fifth.

The Yankees kept their foot on the gas pedal, adding a run in the fifth on Gardner’s sacrifice fly and another run in the sixth on a solo home run from Gary Sanchez off of Bryan Shaw, pushing the lead back to four runs at 7-3.

Severino managed to get through seven innings, giving up the three runs on four hits and a walk while striking out nine on 113 pitches. It was a marked improvement from his short-lived start in the AL Wild Card game.

Dellin Betances took over in the eighth and walked the first two batters he faced. Tommy Kahnle, however, came in and helped save the Yankees from danger by getting two strikeouts and a fly out. Kahnle returned in the ninth, fanning Santana, Michael Brantley, and Lonnie Chisenhall to finalize the 7-3 victory.

The two clubs will meet for the rubber match on Wednesday in Cleveland at Progressive Field. CC Sabathia will start for the Yankees. Expect Corey Kluber for the Indians despite his struggles in Game 2.

The Astros gave the Yankees an opening. Keuchel and Verlander will try to close the door.

Associated Press
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If Game 4 of the ALCS had been even remotely conventional, it’d stand at 3-1 in favor of Houston right now. The Yankees’ starter pitched well but got no run support. A mighty Astros team with an ordinarily good closer in Ken Giles had a 4-0 lead in the late innings. As the Yankees set out to mount a comeback, a base runner fell down in between first and second and should’ve been dead to rights. This is playoff baseball, however, so stuff, as they say, happens. The runner was safe, the closer struggled, the Yankees rallied and now we’re tied 2-2.

But are we even at 2-2?

On paper, no, because the Astros now will send Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander out in Games 5 and 6, and that gives them a clear advantage. Keuchel dominated the Yankees in Game 1, tossing seven scoreless innings and striking out ten batters. Verlander struck out 13 batters in a 124-pitch complete game in which he allowed only a single run. Beyond the mere facts of the box scores, however, the Yankees have looked profoundly overmatched by both of the Astros’ aces, in this postseason and on other occasions on which they’ve faced off against them. Most notably in the 2015 wild-card game at Yankee Stadium when Keuchel pitched six scoreless innings in the 3-0 victory.

But remember: stuff happens.

Stuff like Aaron Judge‘s and Gary Sanchez‘s bats waking up. The two most important sluggers in the Bombers lineup combined to go 3-for-6 with two doubles, a homer, a walk and five RBI in last night’s victory. Each of them had been silent for the first three games of the series but if they’re heating up, the Yankees will be a lot harder to pitch to.

Stuff like Masahiro Tanaka showing that he can tame the Astros’ lineup. Which he did pretty well in Game 1, giving up only two runs on four hits in six innings. He was overshadowed by Keuchel in that game, but it was a good performance against a strong lineup in a hostile environment. Tanaka pitches much better at Yankee Stadium than he does on the road, so don’t for a second think that the Astros bats will have an easy time of it today.

Stuff like the Yankees bullpen still being the Yankees bullpen. Yes, the Astros got to David Robertson yesterday, but it’s still a strong, strong group that gives the Yankees a clear advantage if the game is close late or if they hold a lead.

All of which is to say that we have ourselves a series, friends. While, 48 hours ago, it seemed like we were on our way to an Astros coronation, the Yankees have shown up in a major way in Games 3 and 4. If you’re an Astros fan you should feel pretty confident with Keuchel and Verlander heading into action over the next two games, but we have learned that absolutely nothing is guaranteed in the postseason.