Yankees vs. Guardians score, takeaways: New York takes ALDS Game 1 behind Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rizzo
The Yankees have a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five ALDS
NEW YORK -- Yankee Stadium was full of firsts Tuesday night. It was the first postseason game in the Bronx since Game 5 of the 2019 ALCS. It was Gerrit Cole's first home postseason start as a Yankee. Two players hit their first career postseason home runs. And the New York Yankees won the first game of their ALDS matchup with the Cleveland Guardians (NYY 4, CLE 1).
Cole pitched around early trouble to give the Yankees 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball while striking out eight against the team with the lowest regular season strikeout rate in baseball. Anthony Rizzo put the game to bed with a two-run home run into the second deck in right field in the sixth inning. New York is now two wins away from advancing to the ALCS.
Here are takeaways from Game 1 between the Yankees and Guardians.
Cole navigates early danger
The Guardians certainly made Cole work in the early innings. They got a man to second base in the first and second innings, but Cole escaped with strikeouts, then some nifty defense helped him navigate a bases loaded, one-out jam in the third. Most notably, Josh Donaldson ranged to his left to scoop a ground, and threw home for the force out.
Following that out at home, Cole settled in and retired 12 of the final 14 batters he faced, and Cleveland did not have another runner advance as far as second base while he was on the mound. His only blemish was a Steven Kwan solo homer -- it was Kwan's first career postseason homer and only his seventh homer of 2022 -- and in three starts this season, Cole held the Guardians to three runs in 19 innings.
It should be noted that, although he needed 39 pitches to get through the first inning, Cole was able to take the ball into the seventh inning. That's important because the Yankees are without several key relievers due to injury (Zack Britton, Scot Effross, Chad Green, Michael King, etc.) and will need to cobble things together in the late innings this postseason. The more they get from their starters, the better.
"It was very special for me. It was very special," Cole said with a smile when asked about the ovation he received after Game 1. "The game's not over -- I left with traffic -- it's not the most comfortable time to acknowledge the crowd but I appreciated it."
The eventful fifth inning
There was some right-field funny business in the bottom of the fifth inning. First,. The ball hit the very top of the wall and came back into play, however, and Donaldson was tagged out after rounding first base on his would-be home run trot. Replays confirmed the ball did indeed hit the top of the wall. It was not a home run.
The next batter, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, poked a single along the line in right field and Wild Card Series hero Oscar Gonzalez misplayed the hop, allowing the ball to go through his legs. Kiner-Falefa made it to third base on the error and Jose Trevino drove him in with a go-ahead sacrifice fly. Right field took a homer away from Donaldson and gave Kiner-Falefa three bases.
"That's what he's done all year. He made that error (in the first inning), he bounced back really well," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said about Kiner-Falefa after Game 1. "Obviously then gets a big hit in the corner to set is up. So yeah, it was good he got more chances and kind of bounced back from it."
Trevino, who made his first All-Star Game this summer, was incredibly clutch during the regular season. He had two walk-off hits and hit .355 with runners in scoring position. The sac fly wasn't a hit, but it came with two strikes and it gave the Yankees the lead in the postseason. Trevino has really been a godsend for New York this year.
Rizzo gives the Yankees insurance
The Yankees scored their first run on Harrison Bader's first career postseason home run, and also his first home run as a Yankee. He came over from the Cardinals at the trade deadline and was on the injured list with a foot injury. It wasn't until mid-September that he was activated, and he went 10 for 46 (.217) in a 14-game tune-up. Bader picked a good time for his first Yankees homer.
Bader tied the game 1-1 and Trevino gave the Yankees a 2-1 lead. In the sixth, Rizzo provided two insurance runs with a homer into the second deck in right field. With Andrew Benintendi hurt and Matt Carpenter currently relegated to pinch-hit duty, Rizzo is the only reliable source of left-handed power in New York's lineup. The Yankees need him to pepper the short porch.
Prior to Rizzo's blast, 62-homer man Aaron Judge reminded everyone he is so much more than a home run hitter. He worked a leadoff walk against Cal Quantrill, stole second, then took third when the throw went into center field. Judge went 16 for 19 stealing bases this year in addition to those 62 homers. He's such a gifted, well-rounded player.
Once Rizzo gave the Yankees a 4-1 lead, manager Aaron Boone was able to navigate through the final three innings with righty Jonathan Loáisiga, lefty Wandy Peralta, and righty Clay Holmes. Game 1 was Peralta's first appearance since Sept. 18. He missed the last few weeks of the regular season with a back injury. It was also Holmes' first appearance since Sept. 26. He missed the end of the regular season with a shoulder issue. Clearly, the Yankees were comfortable throwing him (and Peralta) right into the fire.
Game 2, of course. Historically, teams that win Game 1 of a best-of-five series have gone on to win the series 71 percent of the time. The ALDS schedule is a little unusual this year, with an off-day between Games 1 and 2 and Games 2 and 3. Game 2 is scheduled for Thursday night, though the forecast suggests the weather could be an issue. Whenever Game 2 is played, it'll be Nestor Cortes (12-4, 2.44 ERA) against Shane Bieber (13-8, 2.88 ERA).
Yankees win 4-1
Cleveland put a runner on base in the ninth, but Clay Holmes escaped in his first appearance in two weeks. The Yankees win 4-1 and lead the ALDS one game to zero. Game 2 is Thursday, though there's rain in the forecast, so we'll see.
The Yankees are three outs away
Magic Wandy Peralta got the double play in the eighth plus a strikeout. It was his first outing since mid September. He missed time with a back injury. It looks like Clay Holmes will get the ninth inning. He hasn't pitched in a few weeks as well. He's had a shoulder issue. The Yankees have three more outs to go to secure a Game 1 win.
Clay Holmes too. Forgot about him. He's warming up now.
Yankees six outs away from Game 1 win
The score remains 4-1 thanks to Amed Rosario's double play with two on in the seventh inning. The Yankees will look to cobble together six outs from some combination of Jonathan Loáisiga, Wandy Peralta, and Lou Trivino. Manager Aaron Boone said he could use Jameson Taillon in a save situation too.
Anthony Rizzo bomb. It was very high.
Judge walks and steals
Aaron Judge really is so much more than a home run hitter. He's an excellent defender and a sneaky great baserunner too. He drew a walk to begin the sixth, stole second, then took third when the throw went into center field. The Yankees are set up with a runner at third and no outs, looking to add to their 2-1 lead ... and now it's 4-1 Yankees. Anthony Rizzo went deep as I was typing that.
The Yankees have no one warming, by the way. So Cole will start the seventh with 8-9-1 due up.
Cole through six innings
He's thrown 97 pitches. There are off-days after Game 1 and Game 2, and with their bullpen injuries, I gotta think Cole goes back out to start the seventh. Jonathan Loáisiga is tossing a ball around in the bullpen though.
Yankees take the lead during eventful inning
Josh Donaldson thought he hit a homer -- so did I -- but the ball hit the top of the wall and came back into the play. He was tagged out after rounding first base on his home run trot. Weird play. Kiner-Falefa followed with a triple into the right field corner and Jose Trevino brought him with a sacrifice fly. It's 2-1 Yankees heading into the sixth.
Cole through five
The Guardians put some pressure on early, but Cole has retired eight of the last nine batters he faced. He's through five innings on 85 pitches. It's still 1-1. Quantrill has throw only 62 pitches. Given New York's injuries, Cleveland has a decided edge in the bullpen.
The October of Oswaldo
Oswaldo Cabrera made a great catch near the wall in foul territory in left field and high-fived the fan who gave him hit hat back. The kid is all energy. Helps Cole get through an efficient 1-2-3 fourth inning.
Harrison Bader's first homer as a Yankee knots the game up 1-1. That was a missile.
Cole escapes again
Cleveland loaded the bases one out and had a golden opportunity, but Josh Donaldson got the force out at the plate on a ground ball, and Cole struck out Giménez. Cole's thrown 62 pitches and the Guardians are up 1-0, but it couldn't been much worse that inning.