The Yankees had plenty of chances to hurt Gerrit Cole and the Astros in Game 3, but these three wrong decisions cost New York dearly.
Gerrit Cole successfully kept the Yankees off-balance in Game 3 and helped his team earn a valuable win in the Bronx. Despite everything Houston did to win the game, the Yankees will still be kicking themselves for several decisions that contributed to their own defeat.
That’s not meant to take anything away from the Astros. Cole and the pitching staff did an excellent job of shutting New York’s offense down at home. The offense, led by Jose Altuve, did enough against Luis Severino and the Yankees relievers to deserve the decisive victory. Even so, these three Yankee issues really led to their downfall on Tuesday night.
3. Failing to cash in with runners in scoring position
For the game, the Yankees finished an ugly 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position. That might not seem like a lot, but everything is magnified in the postseason. In particular, squandering early opportunities against Cole put Aaron Boone’s team behind the eight ball before the game really got started.
The biggest failing for Boone was not bunting with Brett Gardner early in the game with runners on first and second with nobody out. The Yankees knew coming into the game that scoring was going to be at a premium against Cole. Bunting with the third hitter in your lineup is always a bit unorthodox, but it’s not as if Gardner is a classic three-hole hitter.
Giving Gardner up to move the runners up could have allowed New York to manufacture an early, game-tying run. Hindsight is 20/20, but it’s a move Boone should have been bold enough to make in a game like this.