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Yankees show fundamental grit as they charge towards Game 1 win over Guardians

📸 Photo by Daniel Budasoff/ Latino Sports

NEW YORK — You know the postseason is back in the Bronx when a deafening roar echoes from the cement walls of the grand baseball cathedral that resides on 161st and River Ave. A promising pitching performance, explosive defensive plays, and loud home runs all contributed to the earthquake-like shake that jolted Yankee Stadium as the New York Yankees put away a 4-1 win over the Cleveland Guardians in Game 1 of the American League Division Series. 

It was a collective and promising win for the American League East division champions as they used all facets of the game and the fundamentals to carry themselves into the win column and give themselves a 1-0 edge in the best-of-five series.

Yankees ace and Game 1 starter Gerrit Cole had a dominant performance for the first time since his September 7 outing against the Minnesota Twins. The Yankees ace stretched 6.1 innings in his 2022 postseason debut, rendering one run on four hits while sending eight Guardians to the dugout. 

Yankees ace Gerrit Cole dominated in his first postseason start of the year. 📸 Photo Credit: Bill Menzel/ Latino Sports

“It was just a really awesome experience overall,” Cole stated after his first-career postseason win as a Yankees. “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.”

Steven Kwan was the only Guardian to put up a run against Cole when he connected on his first postseason homer with a solo blast over the right-field wall. The blast would segway into a bases-loaded opportunity for the Guardians. However, Cole would depend on his infielders to manage the outcome of the inning with two fielder’s choice, one preventing a run from scoring and allowing Cole to punch out Andrés Giménez to end the threat.

What came next with two batter’s into the bottom of the third inning, trade deadline acquisition Harrison Bader unleashed a rocket to the left-field seats to tie the game at one. Bader’s solo home run was the hardest hit ball of the night, with a 110.0 mph exit velocity. The blast gave the Yankees hope in the batter’s box, and a rush of adrenaline was felt throughout the stadium as the bats came alive.   

Harrison Bader celebrates his solo home run in the bottom of the third inning, tying the game at one. His blast helped ignite the Yankee Stadium crowd as they cheered loud and proud through all nine innings of Game 1 of the ALDS. 📸 Photo Credit: Daniel Budasoff/ Latino Sports

Despite a first-inning error by Isiah Kiner-Falefa, the Yankees’ defense came in steaming in the top of the fourth inning and held down the fort throughout the game. Yankees rookie Oswaldo Cabrera made a fan-friendly catch at the left field wall that sprinkled a dose of excitement and energetic passion that helped ignite the next defensive gem. 

“Oswaldo made a great play up against the wall, kind of continues to just be so impressive,” Cole said on the rookie outfielder. 

“That’s part of why they are better than they were before,” Guardians manager Terry Francona said on the Yankees’ strength in defense. “I hope it doesn’t lead to a win the next game. They are a much better defensive team, that’s for sure. That’s stating the obvious.”

With the defense continuing to impress even their postseason opponent, it was time for the bats to make a statement early in the postseason. But controversy would soon ensue as Josh Donalsdon would be in the midst of a replay review when his 331-foot hit bounced off the top of the right-field wall above the red-painted F.W. WEBB sign in the fifth inning. Without noticing there was no home run signal from right field umpire Mark Ripperger, the Yankees third baseman trotted around first base with the assumption it was a home run, but Guardians outfielder Oscar González fielded the hit to Amed Rosario, who threw to first baseman Josh Naylor to get Donaldson out at first for the first out of the sixth inning.  

“It’s a unique one down that line like that. You’re kind of body-languaging it,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said commenting on the play. “… I thought it was a home run off the bat … So we have to make sure we’re getting where we need to get to. So I’m glad it didn’t end up hurting us.”

The following inning Anthony Rizzo belted a moonshot to the second deck in right field,  powering the Yankees to a 4-1 lead as trembles were felt across the sea of navy blue pinstripes. The blast sent the 47,807 fans in attendance into an overload frenzy. A 378-footer with a 105 mph exit velocity is exactly what the Yankees needed to shift momentum their way and count on the bullpen to close out the game. 

Anthony Rizzo and Aaron Judge celebrate extending the lead after the Yankees first baseman launched a two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning to help solidify the 4-1 score. 📸 Photo Credit: Bill Menzel/ Latino Sports

After Cole’s exit and a standing ovation from the Yankee Stadium crowd, Jonathan Loáisiga relieved Cole in the middle of the seventh inning, completing the inning, while Wandy Peralta went 1.1 innings with one strikeout before being relieved in the middle of the ninth for enacting closer Clay Holmes. 

“I feel very confident,” Peralta said after his postseason debut. “I was going to be able to go out there and pick up where I left off, attack the hitters and not try to do too much really, just keep doing what I’ve been doing throughout the year, and definitely the confidence was there for to do that.”

The Yankees and Guardians will return to Yankee Stadium on Thursday, Oct. 14, 2022, for Game 2 of the ALDS with a 7:37 pm EST start time. The Yankees will put their faith in breakout All-Star starter Nestor Cortes, while the Guardians hope Shane Bieber can take them out of the 1-0 hole and send the series to Cleveland all tied up.

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