Manager Boone’s desperate trial fails, Yankees lose their own game

Aaron Judge of Yankees trying a homer in Houston.

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HOUSTON — The Yankees did not live up to their reputation for having the best offense, and this includes Harrison Bader, the newly named Bronxville Bomber. Despite manager Aaron Judge making a new experiment, they failed to hit a home run for the first time in 24 playoff games, which made their ALCS Game 2 loss a forgone conclusion at Minute Maid Park.

The Yankees haven’t won in Houston all season. Manger Boone thought of breaking that gridlock with a change in the team that hit the most home runs in the major leagues with 254. Some are needed because of changes in defense, playing right or left, and the area. Boone moved Bronxville’s own Bader, the slugging sensation who became the first Yankee to homer four times in his first six playoff games, to the leadoff slot for Game 2.

For Game 2 of the ALCS, Aaron Boone made more changes to his lineup. Youngster Oswald Peraza made his first postseason start at shortstop, and Oswaldo Cabrera returned to left field. Peraza was added to the ALCS roster even though he wasn’t on the ALDS roster. He only played in Game 1 as a pinch-runner. Isiah Kiner-Falefa went back to the bench after starting Game 1. He was having trouble on defense in the ALDS.

But, it only turned out to be a game of making changes. There are enough changes to make it look like they are trying too hard. Anyway, they’ve only scored three runs in two games, which isn’t enough. Manager Aaron Boone keeps making lineup changes. Even though Bader had one of the Yankees’ four hits and walked, the switch didn’t quite work on Thursday. Valdez and a couple of other relievers for the Astros gave the Yankees three singles and a double. The best play by the offense was a 60-foot grounder by Stanton that Valdez messed up.

When Lauren Shehadi of TBS approached Bader about the changes during the pregame broadcast, he seemed shocked. He later said that he should have known but was too preoccupied to look at a lineup card that had been displayed for some time.

It was really precarious to see the Yankees without hitting even a single home run. They came close in the ninth inning when certain AL MVP contender Aaron Judge smacked one to the wall. Yankees players felt Judge’s ball was going out, but the 106 mph blast, like the Yankees themselves, was knocked down in the end.

With Thursday night’s 3-2 win, the Astros took a 2-0 lead in the ALCS. This is the first time in a long time that they haven’t been able to win. In a bitter turn of events, the Yankees lost at their own game. All three Astros runs came from Alex Bregman’s home run, which was a ball the Yankees didn’t think would go out.

Because of metrics, the Yankees felt like they were taken advantage of. Bregman’s ball left the bat at only 91 mph, but the wind helped it go farther. That’s 15 mph slower than Judge’s shot, which was hard to make because of the wind, but in the end, it doesn’t matter.

“He didn’t really hit it that well off the bat, but he hit it well enough,” catcher Kyle Higashioka said of Bregman’s blast, “That’s how it goes sometimes. It’s kind of tough to swallow.”

Even though Yankees starter Luis Severino did a great job, he said twice that the Astros “got lucky.”

Framber Valdez, the Astros’ starter the night before, wasn’t nearly as excellent as all-time great Justin Verlander, but he was adequate for New York’s feeble offense. Even though the Yankees scored the second-most runs in the major leagues, they depend heavily on the long ball. They might not have much if they don’t have it. The Yankees are also still striking out a lot. After striking out 17 times in the first game, they struck out 13 times more on Thursday.

“I think we’ve got to shorten up a little bit,” Giancarlo Stanton said, “If you put the ball in play, you never know what can happen.”

Even though Stanton seems to be playing at about three-quarters speed, probably because of one of the many foot injuries that have plagued the Yankees, Valdez panicked. The only thing that happened was that two-run rally. The good news is that the Yankees get to go home, where they’ve already beaten the Astros twice this season. Now, they’re 0-5 here.

If Judge’s ball had just gone out and Kyle Tucker hadn’t reached up right at the wall to catch it, they might be 1-4 right now. The fact that it didn’t leave the yard was probably the biggest letdown of the season so far.

Higashioka said, echoing the thoughts of many in the room, “I was kind of surprised it didn’t go out.”

It’s getting pretty amazing how Astro is taking over everything. The team that beat the Yankees in 2015, 2017, and 2019 is threatening to do it again. If the Yankees want to win, they need to remember who they are. They have to find their offense back.

Bader hit ninth and then seventh in the first six playoff games, but after hitting a home run off Justin Verlander in Game 1, he moved up to the top of the lineup. Cabrera, on the other hand, goes back to left field for the first time since Game 3 of the ALDS. In the last two games of that series, he started at shortstop.

What changes would you like to suggest in the Yankees lineup for Game 3 of the ALCS?

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