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A theme of missed opportunities doom Yankees in Game 1 of ALDS

The story of Sisyphus is a tale that reminds people that sometimes hard work doesn’t pay off. Sisyphus is punished for a crime and his sentence from the Gods entails him pushing up a boulder to the top of a hill, only to have that boulder roll back down and have him start all over again.

The Yankees were Sisyphus on Friday because try as they may, they could never get over the hill. Many times did the Bombers have men in scoring position but they failed to deliver.

J.A. Happ chose the worst time of the season to have a bad start. His sparking 1.99 lifetime ERA against the Red Sox meant nothing on Friday, as he gave up five runs total and never looked comfortable against a potent Red Sox lineup.  He only lasted two innings after giving up a three run Green Monster home run to J.D. Martinez in the first and leaving two baserunners on in the third. The Red Sox would go on to score two more runs in the 2nd to push the lead to five after a Steve Pearce single and a Xander Boegarts sac fly, but the Yankees bullpen shut them down the rest of the way.

The Yankees produced very little in the beginning of the game against a refreshed Chis Sale. Lazy pop flies and strikeouts were the theme when Sale was on the mound. Luckily for them, manager Alex Cora may have pulled his ace a bit too early, giving way to the shaky Sox bullpen in the sixth.  Sale lasted 5 1/3 innings, giving up only five hits and striking out eight. As someone who has a history of struggling in October, Sale was money in this game.

The Yankees had three separate opportunities throughout the course of the game to tie it, but just couldn’t muster enough of a comeback. The first being in the sixth when Gleyber Torres came up with the bases loaded and had the chance of a lifetime to make an impact. He struck out on a nasty 3-2 breaking ball by Brandon Workman to end the mini-rally.  During that mini-rally, Luke Voit pitched in with an RBI single, Didi Gregorius forced out to score a run, and Gary Sanchez worked the bases loaded with a walk.  Ryan Brasier gave way to Workman, who promptly struck Torres out.

The second and most defined missed opportunity was in the seventh when Giancarlo Stanton came up with the bases loaded. He struck out, one of his four Ks, and the Yankees produced only two runs off of that after Luke Voit grounded out to score Andrew McCutchen. It’s starting to become a theme that Stanton strikes out in big moments, and hopefully he doesn’t turn into an Alex Rodriguez type player. Yes, A-Rod was fantastic during the ’09 World Series run, but was never viewed as a clutch player otherwise.

The Yankees had one more effort in them in the top of the ninth. Aaron Judge hit a line drive home run into the Sox bullpen to cut the lead to one, but terrible at bats by Brett Gardner, Stanton, and Luke Voit doomed the Yankees. All three struck out after Craig Kimbrel came in for a four out save in the eighth. Stanton had a particularly ugly at bat, as he watched three strikes go right by him and never moved his bat off his shoulder.

If the Yankees lose this series in five, they have no one to blame but themselves. The Red Sox bullpen practically handed the game on a silver platter and the Yankees went back to eating their ham sandwich. The Yankee’s Achilles heel this season has been producing runs in multiple ways, and it came back to bite them Friday night. Lance Lynn was the surprise hero of the bullpen, pitching two scoreless innings after a good outing by Chad Green. The Yankees waited too late to have their bats wake up, as they did neutralize the Sox later in the game.

Game 2 pits Masahiro Tanaka against David Price. Tanaka is money in big games, so hopefully the Yankees can escape with a victory. If not, they have a lot of work to do. Beating a 108 win team three in a row is no easy task. Get the win tonight and alleviate some of the pressure.

What do the Yankees have working for them? If you’re a Yankee fan, you should know that any matchup with David Price is a good one. Although he’s pitched like an ace this season, the Yankees have a tendency to get to him early and often, so don’t be surprised if this series is tied 1-1 going back to New York.

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