Tuesday night at Progressive Field, the New York Yankees opened their Wild Card Series matchup with Cleveland, and the battle of the aces never materialized.
Bieber did not have a single 1-2-3 inning Tuesday and Cleveland was trailing before he even broke a sweat. New York fouled away a lot of pitches and took some quality breaking balls in the dirt, and when Bieber made a mistake, they did not miss. The Yankees had four extra-base hits against Bieber.
On the other side, Gerrit Cole took the run support and ran with it, especially after escaping a minor third inning jam. Cleveland never seriously threatened the rest of the night. Here are three takeaways from New York's Game 1 win.
The Yankees hammered Bieber
Bieber had a bad start to his bad start.sent Bieber's third pitch of the game to right field for a single, then Aaron Judge sent Bieber's fourth pitch over the center field wall for a two-run home run.
To the action footage:
Bieber allowed seven home runs in 77 1/3 innings during the regular season and all seven came on the road. That was the first homer he allowed at Progressive Field in 2020. Also, Bieber allowed one first inning run during the regular season, then he allowed two on one swing Tuesday. The onslaught was far from over too.
The Yankees added a run in the third, two runs in the fourth, and two more in the fifth. Bieber allowed seven earned run in 4 2/3 innings in Game 1 -- he didn't allow more than three runs in any of his 12 regular season starts -- after allowing 14 earned runs in the entire regular season. Just a brutal outing for the presumptive Cy Young winner.
Also, the home run was Judge's ninth in 28 career postseason games. He was hideous in the 2017 ALDS against Cleveland (1 for 20 with 16 strikeouts) but is 24 for 82 (.293) with eight homers in 22 postseason games since.
Cole was marvelous
I'm sure the early lead helped, but gosh, Cole overwhelmed Cleveland in Game 1. He struck out 13 and held the opposition to two runs on six scattered hits in seven innings in Game 1. Once the Yankees opened a 7-2 lead, Cole really locked in, and retired 11 of the final 12 batters he faced. Utterly dominant.
The only Cleveland hitter who gave him trouble was Josh Naylor, who was part of the Mike Clevinger trade. Naylor hit a double high off the center field wall in the second inning and a solo home run to center in the fourth inning. He added a single in the seventh and another double in the ninth. Cole threw high fastballs by every Cleveland hitter all night except Naylor.
According to MLB.com's Andrew Simon, Naylor is the first player with two "barrels" against Cole in a single game since July 2018. Statcast defines a "barrel" as a batted ball "whose comparable hit types (in terms of exit velocity and launch angle) have led to a minimum .500 batting average and 1.500 slugging percentage." Barrels are the best possible contact, basically.
Naylor went 3 for 3 and was a triple short of the cycle against Cole. The rest of the lineup went 3 with 23 against him. Cole's 13 strikeouts are the second most in a postseason start in Yankees history:
- Roger Clemens, 2000 ALCS Game 4 vs. Mariners: 15 K
- Gerrit Cole, 2020 Wild Card Series Game 1 vs. Cleveland: 13 K
- Orlando Hernandez, 2000 World Series Game 3 vs. Mets: 12 K
- Several tied with 11
Cole and Hall of Famer Bob Gibson are the only pitchers in history with multiple 13-strikeout games in the postseason. Cole struck out 15 in Game 2 of the ALDS against the Rays last year.
It's only the Wild Card Series, not the World Series, but the Yankees gave Cole a pitcher record $324 million contract to win games like Tuesday's. He beat a fellow ace on the road to give his team a 1-0 series lead. Now the Yankees are one win away from the ALDS.
Torres woke up
The Yankees scored 12 runs in Game 1 after scoring no more than three runs in four of their last five regular season games. There were questions -- legitimate questions -- about their offense's ability to produce away from Yankee Stadium. Check out the home/road splits:
- Yankees at home: .266/.363/.530 and 6.4 runs per game
- Yankees on the road: .226/.319/.358 and 4.1 runs per game
They questions about the offense were answered with 12 runs in a game started by the American League's best pitcher away from Yankee Stadium. Hard to respond any better than that.
Every Yankee reached base at least once and five of their nine starters reached base multiple times. Gleyber Torres, who slugged .368 in an uneven regular season, went 4 for 4 with a homer and a walk. New York's 7-8-9 hitters went a combined 8 for 14 (.571) with a double and two homers.
It was a great day for the offense overall and Torres waking up has to be extra encouraging. As noted, he had a very disappointing regular season, one that would've received more attention if not for teammate Gary Sanchez's crummy year. Torres was great last postseason. Him producing like he's capable would make New York that much more dangerous.