The New York Yankees are moving on. Behind a stellar performance by Nestor Cortes Jr. and loud homers from Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge, the Yankees subdued the pesky Cleveland Guardians, 5-1, to win Game 5 of the American League Division Series and punch their ticket to the ALCS.
Cortes, whose five innings of one-run ball were crucial, was not originally slated to start this game. But the series, already altered by a Game 2 rain delay, had its pitching considerations scrambled on Monday night. The teams reacted differently, and reaped different results. The Yankees took the chance to bring Cortes, the Game 2 starter back on short rest. The Guardians will stick with planned starter Aaron Civale, and he lasted only one out — struggling with his command and allowing Stanton’s homer.
Shane Bieber, Cleveland’s ace and Game 2 starter, didn’t make an appearance. Four Guardians relievers got through the remaining innings allowing only two more runs, but even that wouldn’t have been enough. Judge’s homer and an RBI single from Anthony Rizzo in the fifth gave the Yankees all they needed.
In the end, the Yankees joined the Astros as favorites moving on, standing in stark contrast to the National League — where the two lowest seeds in the field, the San Diego Padres and Philadelphia Phillies, will begin their NLCS matchup Tuesday night.
The first four games were a pretty simple story. When Gerrit Cole pitched, the Yankees won. When he didn’t, the Guardians chipped away and got to the Yankees bullpen — both times with clutch hits by rookie Oscar Gonzalez. Cole didn’t pitch in Game 5, but there was no such magic forthcoming.
Cleveland will return home having surged to an unexpected playoff berth as the youngest team in baseball.
The Yankees, meanwhile will quickly travel to Houston to square off against the Houston Astros in the ALCS. Game 1 is Wednesday night.
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