Bronx, NY– It’s safe to say, there’s nothing quite better than postseason baseball in the Bronx. With reckless chants and silencing awes reigning in from a sellout crowd of 47,807 standing on their feet, Yankee Stadium becomes a October madhouse. And that intense atmosphere stood to par on Tuesday night as the Cleveland Guardians and New York Yankees went to battle in Game 1 of the American League Division Series.
“It was just a really awesome experience overall,” said Yankees Game 1 starter and ace, Gerrit Cole, who allowed one earned run across 6.1 innings with eight strikeouts. “Just sometimes when you feel the crowd or the energy, you know, it sometimes can become a little easier just to quiet things down because it’s so loud.”
“That was great, the energy from the fans, it was just amazing,” said Yankees center fielder Harrison Bader. “When you have such an incredible fan base, fans that are just rabid and want to win as badly as Yankees fans do, it’s almost like you’re playing with them on the field.”
The hometown kid, Harrison Bader (Bronxville, New York) provided a huge spark to the Yankees kryptonite on Tuesday evening. As New York was down 1-0 early in the third, Bader’s opportunity to jolt the stadium at 161st Street and River Avenue surfaced.
With a 3-2 count against Guardians starter Cal Quantrill, Bader connected on a 95.2 MPH sinker and delivered it 406 feet to the left field gates, tying the score at one a piece.
“Just make sure you touch every base, truthfully,” Bader said when asked about what was going through his head while rounding the bases. “You know, one task at a time. Once you touch all the bases, then you can kind of give a little love to the fans.”
Since making his pinstripes debut on September 20th, the 28-year-old has become a Bronx fan favorite. An all-around winning type of player, Bader contains tremendous versatility across the playing diamond: stellar Gold Glove defense, a productive bat in the lineup, and an extreme threat on the bases.
Furthermore, the energy Bader carries in his game translates to his teammates in an element of surprises.
“These scenarios come down to taking care of the baseball,” said Bader about his dynamic plays leading to the Yankees 4-1, Game 1 victory. “Not giving away outs, not giving away extra bases, because everything has an effect, and it’s not to say you have to be perfect. It’s just, you know, when things happen, a new situation is presented, you have to adjust accordingly.”
“Obviously, big home run there to get it started tonight, coupled with obviously what he brings in the outfield,” said Yankees manager Aaron Boone.
Since we are discussing jolts of energy, it would feel misguided to not bring up the spark and impact rookie Oswaldo Cabrera has offered to the Yankees clubhouse. In 44 games played this regular season, Cabrera slashed .247/.312/.429 with six HR, 19 RBI and 38 total hits.
But, the hidden gem is how the 23-year-old, of Guarnes, Venezuela can play an elite caliber defense at an array of positions. Cabrera played four different defensive positions over the course of his first six games in the big leagues, making him the first player in Yankees franchise history ever to do so.
Cabrera’s common spark of energy appeared Tuesday night in the top of the fourth inning as he made a one-handed grab, leaping into the left field crowd situated in foul ball territory. No fear or doubt came to mind for Cabrera.
“Oswaldo made a great play up against the wall, kind of continues to just be so impressive,” said Cole.
The enforcer out of the bullpen in Game 1 was none other than the 2021 American League LatinoMVP Reliever of the Year, Jonathan Loáisiga. The 27-year-old, of Managua, Nicaragua entered a high leverage situation during the seventh as Cole departed, leaving a runner on first and two outs remaining.
After allowing a Steven Kwan single, Loáisiga got out of the jam, forcing a ground ball that resulted in a clutch double play. Loáisiga led the bullpen alongside Wandy Peralta and Clay Holmes, who all combined to throw 2.2 scoreless innings, allowing two hits with one strikeout.
A momentum shift within the Yankees brass because in the September stretch leading us to October, New York remained searching for answers revolving around the postseason bullpen moves.
Loáisiga for one, has proven to be a reliable go-to in high leverage situations. In his final 13 appearances of the 2022 regular season, the Yankees right-hander recorded a 1.72 ERA with eight strikeouts across 15.2 innings.
Additionally, Loáisiga is a trustworthy reliever, who’s experienced postseason intensity every year dating back to 2019. Perhaps, the underlying aspects that propel the Yankees to advancing to the American League Championship Series?
All of that can be decided as the Guardians and Yankees resume their best-of-five ALDS battle on Thursday night in the Bronx.
“Got to win three in this series,” said Boone. “So however you get there. You want to rack them up when you can.”
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