CLEVELAND – The Guardians simply keep fighting as well as any team in baseball.
Trailing 5-3 entering the bottom of the ninth inning, the Guardians rallied to come from behind and take Game 3 of the New York Yankees 6-5. Game 4 is Sunday night at Progressive Field.
Myles Straw and Steven Kwan opened the ninth with bloop singles to left. Amed Rosario then hit a single through the left side of the infield that cut the Yankees lead to 5-4. Jose Ramirez followed with an infield single that loaded the bases with nobody out.
With one out, Oscar Gonzalez hit a single back up the middle to win it.
Here are some quick hits from Game 3.
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Yankees bullpen unravels
Here was a decision that could haunt the Yankees all offseason, and they’re right at the exit ramp toward a bitter winter.
Why wasn’t Clay Holmes summoned in a save situation?
In a spot that screamed for Holmes, it was Clarke Schmidt who entered Saturday in a critical, ninth-inning jam.
Gonzalez’s two-run single, on a 1-2 slider by Schmidt with two outs, allowed Cleveland to dance off with the win.
Afterward, Holmes said he was able, ready and willing to pitch, while manager Aaron Boone wanted to stay away from him unless faced with an “emergency situation.”
Well, it doesn’t get more urgent than this.
On a chilly and windy night, Cleveland went ahead 2-1 in the best-of-five ALDS, with a rematch of Game 1 on tap Sunday night: Gerrit Cole will be pitching for the Yankees’ playoff lives, versus Cal Quantrill.
“Can’t sit here and sulk on it,” said Aaron Judge, and does anyone in Yankees Universe dare dwell on the possibility that their MVP, free-agent eligible slugger might be in his final hours with the team?
“We’ve got to bring the energy (Sunday night)” in win-or-else Game 4.
The wrong call
Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge broke his ALDS slump with an early, two-run homer, Luis Severino righted the ship after a rocky start, and the Yanks took a 5-3 lead in the seventh.
But after Wandy Peralta could not continue his generally fine relief, lifted with one out and two runners on in the ninth, Boone summoned…Schmidt?
“I said I was good to go if needed,” said Holmes, who had been dealing with shoulder soreness late in the season. “I was prepared to pitch if my name was called.”
Boone initially indicated Saturday that he anticipated everyone being available in his bullpen for Game 3, after Holmes threw 16 pitches in Friday afternoon’s 10-inning, 4-2 Cleveland win at Yankee Stadium.
But after Saturday’s game, Boone expressed his reluctance in using Holmes on consecutive days for now.
“While he was pretty good (Saturday) and I fully expect him available (Sunday night), it just felt like we needed to stay away there,” Boone said.
That seemed to come as a surprise to Holmes, who said he woke up Saturday preparing to pitch.
“Sometimes those decisions aren’t mine.”
After an RBI single by Amed Rosario and a bloop single by Jose Ramirez, Schmidt struck out Josh Naylor before Gonzalez sent everyone home.
“I don’t know their intentions,” Schmidt said of being summoned in a save spot. He threw four sliders in the sequence to Gonzalez, the last one being low but not low enough to avoid a game-winning hit.
“We should have won that game,” said Severino, adding that he was “surprised” not to see Holmes in the ninth. “He’s our closer,” though Holmes has not been at his first-half, All-Star standard, when his signature sinker was MLB’s nastiest pitch.
But Schmidt hasn’t matched his first half success lately, either.
The Yanks had already used Lou Trivino and Jonathan Loaisiga, and Trivino being summoned in the sixth – instead of allowing Severino to finish the inning – was due partly to shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa’s failure to make a play.
Domingo German had warmed up earlier and was presumably available.
Lucas Luetge and Miguel Castro were the remaining relievers, but the left-handed veteran Luetge is seldom used in high leverage. Castro has no role.
Jameson Taillon was being saved for a possible Game 5 start Monday, which the Yanks can only hope for now.
Yankees get homers from Judge, Cabrera and Bader
Yeah, the Yankees aren’t the hard-to-strikeout, put-it-in-play Guardians.
For Boone’s offense to be running at its optimum effectiveness, it needs the long ball. So, no surprise that in Game 3, all the Yankees’ runs were a product of homers.
And it started with Judge, in his second at-bat, batting for the first time in awhile out of the leadoff spot.
“I knew he’ll be fine with it,’’ the manager said of Judge before the game, feeling it wasn’t necessary to give his slugger advance notice of the change.
After his first-inning strikeout against Triston McKenzie, Judge crushed a 449-foot, game-tying two-run homer to center off McKenzie in the third.
And then, home runs came from less-than-expected places – the bats of rookie Oswaldo Cabrera (two-run shot off McKenzie in the fifth) and Harrison Bader (solo, off lefty Sam Hentges in the seventh).
Both those bats were flipped away – Cabrera’s tossed in the air, Bader’s sent spinning toward the visiting dugout.