Some questionable decisions and bad play allowed Cleveland to stay within striking distance for their eventual walk-off win.
There is absolutely no close game that is decided solely by bad breaks. At some point along the way, there’s always something you can point to that if the losing team had done different, they might’ve won. There are certainly plenty of Yankees’ mistakes to point to in ALDS Game 3, but it’s hard to blame you if you feel like they just got hit with a metric ton of unfortunate luck.
In the Yankees’ 6-5 loss in Game 3 to the Guardians last night, you can certainly point to Aaron Boone’s management of the bullpen for contributing to the loss. As it turned out, Clay Holmes was unavailable (even to his surprise). That’s somewhat understandable, considering that’s he’s still recently returned from injury. If that’s the case then, you probably should use Lou Trivino and Jonathan Loáisiga for longer than 7 and 15 pitches respectively. Due to that earlier usage and with Wandy Peralta unable to get the last couple outs after going 1.2 innings, that led to Clarke Schmidt coming in for maybe the most important at-bats of the season. He’s perfectly decent, but probably not the guy for that spot.
You can also point to Isiah Kiner-Falefa’s defense at shortstop for allowing the game to be closer going into the ninth than it probably should’ve been. He didn’t end up getting dinged for any errors, but a play he failed to make in the first inning led to Cleveland’s first run. Then in the sixth, his throw to first on a grounder failed to get there in time on a play that would’ve been the third out of the inning. A hit after that knocked Luis Severino out of the game, and yet another one led to the Guardians scoring a third run. While the Yankees still led 4-3 and eventually went up 5-3, if he makes one of both of those plays, maybe the lead is bigger and the Yankees have a little more wiggle room at the end of the ballgame. Beyond that, in the ninth, it seemed like Myles Straw was maybe able to move up to second on his hit to start the inning because IKF sent the ball to third as Straw was hesitating about trying to go to second.
Before the season, the case was made that Kiner-Falefa was a stopgap with a couple shortstop prospects on the rise. He was not a great hitter, the hope was that he’d be a fine fielder. That hasn’t been the case at all, and Game 3 really highlighted that. Oswald Peraza showed some real potential in his September callup, but ended up left off the roster for depth at other positions, with IKF permanent marker-ed in at shortstop for a crossroads season as important as Aaron Judge’s contract year. After Game 3, it’s hard to logically agree with that.
However, none of those decisions/plays went the Yankees way, and as a result, Cleveland was in striking distance for the ninth, allowing some bloop hit nonsense to happen. While, sure, in the aftermath of their win, you and they can say “that’s what happens when you make contact,” some of what happened in that inning was nonsense.
Only two of those balls were remotely hit hard, and just happened to drop into no man’s land. The ninth inning itself was massively unfortunate. While the Guardians will probably say “this is how we play,” no hitter is exactly trying to hit a ball 60ish miles per hour with the hope that they’ll manage to get it to just drop in between two fielders.
However, Game 3 simply happened the way it did, and no one can take it back. Was the ninth inning annoying and unfortunate: yes, absolutely. However, the way to fix that is to make it so a couple bloop hits don’t make a difference. The Yankees’ offense in this game was mostly fine. Five runs on three homers is often enough to win a baseball game. After a slow start, Luis Severino showed the dog in him and ended up putting in a very nice effort. Both of those performances should’ve been enough. It wasn’t because of mistakes that helped the Guardians stick around, and now the Yankees are left fighting to keep their season alive.