Big Ben: Yankees Drop the Ball Against Houston, What Went Wrong

BRONX, NY: The Yankees were going to have to play nearly flawless baseball to beat the Astros. The crumbling state of their bullpen put them in a tough spot. Well, “nearly flawless” is not the way you’d describe the Yankees’ “performance” this past week. The words that come to mind like “trainwreck” and “dumpster fire” don’t seem like big enough disasters to do justice to the travesty that occurred in Houston and New York. The one positive was that never in the series did it feel like the Yankees could actually win, even for a die hard like yours truly. It didn’t take long to see that defeat was inevitable, so at least there was no devastating gut punch like in 2017 and 2019. It’s tempting to hide behind the shockingly strong play of the Giants and Jets, and stay out of site on the gridiron, but not this time. Let’s break down what went wrong for the Yankees.


A big strength all season, their defense let them down in a big way in the playoffs. Pop-ups to shallow left were costly against the Guardians, partially the result of Oswaldo Cabrera playing out of position due to injuries. Isiah Kiner-Falefa was unreliable at short, which got him benched for some games. That was unfortunate because he was getting hits and was one of the few Yankees regularly putting the ball in play.

Errors by Bader (with an assist by Judge) and the flip by Torres (which might’ve been partially IKF’s fault) were pivotal in Games 3 and 4.

Passive Hitting

It looked like the Yankees were trying to work counts and get into the bullpens. But Cleveland and Houston have the best bullpens in the game. They took way too many meatballs and got themselves into too many bad counts. I think Judge was thrown off by the home run chase. The disciplined pitch selection was not there.

Josh Donaldson

This guy used to make me nervous when he was on the Blue Jays, but there was no trace of that guy in this series. If you grabbed a random fan out of the crowd they wouldn’t have looked any more helpless at the plate. I had a better chance with Jenny Mendlebaum in 10th grade, than Josh did of making solid contact. There’s no way he should’ve been in the lineup for Game 4. If defense was the concern, why not move IKF to third, he’s won a gold glove at the position, and play Peraza, the smooth fielding rookie at short.

Tough Luck

Ben Whitney

I don’t expect sympathy, but they had some really bad breaks. When they finally got off to a good start and got the 3-0 lead in Game 4, Nestor Cortes suddenly came down with a mysterious injury. Scott Effross got up to speed and back into the mix just in time for playoffs, until it was suddenly announced that he needed Tommy John surgery. They lost Hicks on that stupid collision. The list goes on.

Jumpy Decision Making

I understand the Yankees were in a strange place with the Benintendi and Hicks injuries, and Carpenter just off the IL. And they were trying to catch lightning somewhere when they were struggling to score. But the constant batting order reshuffling, guys in and out of the lineup, moving Cabrera all over the diamond, etc, did not exactly portray a team that had a plan for how they thought they could win the series.

Boone made several mistakes. Why was Cabrera in left field in the 9th inning of Game 3 in the first round with Hicks and Locastro, natural outfielders, on the bench? A bloop into left that was in the air a long time, helped set up the winning rally in the ninth. Needing to go five games against the Guardians put them even further behind the eight ball against the Astros. Not that it’s all Boone’s fault, and a whole lot of things broke badly for the Yankees at the end of the year. And it might’ve been a different series with LeMahieu, Benetendi, Effros, Michael King, Marrinacchio, etc on the roster. Still, it’s probably time for Boone to go.

There was more, but those things angered me. So…. go Giants.

Come back tomorrow for Angry Ward. Follow us on Twitter at @BenWhit8, @MeetTheMatts, @Matt_McCarthy00, Instagram @MeetTheMatts and like our Facebook page, Meet The Matts.

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About Ben Whitney 402 Articles
Ben Whitney comes from journalistic stock. Aside from his brothers, rumor has that his great-great grandfather was the youngest brother of Eli Whitney and covered the earliest "rounders" games. Big Ben is also another New York Rugby Club player/pal of Different Matt, Short Matt and Junoir Blaber. He likes film noir discussions, has twin girls and took up ice hockey after retiring from rugby.