Cornered Yanks Win Again | The New Yorker

Yes , it was the Yankees again last night, a relatively easy 7–3 win at
the Stadium that began in the rain and featured a thrilling
seven-inning, nine-strikeout performance by their twenty-three-year-old
ace, Luis Severino. This was the third lose-and-you’re-out win by the
Yanks, going back to their single-game wild-card elimination win over
the Twins, and they will be in the same comforting uncomfortable corner
again when they take on the Indians on Wednesday, in Cleveland, in the
series finale. But these are hard times. By the start of the game in the
Bronx last night, the Red Sox had lost, 5–4, and with that their quick,
four-game series against the Astros, and had gone off into their winter.

It’s tempting to talk only about these very young Yankees, whose boyish
leapings and coded fist- and elbow-bumpings make us smile, but the
Indians did their part as well, with four errors. Their starter, Trevor
Bauer, departed in the second inning, down 4–0, with three of those runs
unearned. But for me and the roaring Yankee Stadium fans all this felt
pure and deserved, and a redemption for Severino, who was making up for
an abysmal outing in the wild-card game, when he left in the opening
inning, down by three runs after recording a lone out. Last night, Luis
could barely wait between pitches, mixing up burning fastballs and a
biting slider, and almost quivering with excitement when he got the ball
back again and barely restraining himself from a rush to do something
even better with the next pitch. You sensed a suppressed Little Leaguer
through the whole process.

The deep bayings and chantings of the Stadium hordes were nothing like
the previous night’s nervous devotions in the course of the Yankees’
excruciating 1–0 win, but one almost relished the austerity that one, in
which the starters—the Yankees’ Masahiro Tanaka and the Indians’ Carlos
Carrasco—produced zeroes and strikeouts in brusque abundance, with a
shared twelve strikeouts over the first four innings. No hints or
happenings until the seventh, when Yankee first baseman Greg Bird, on a
full count, drove a homer high and deep into the right-field stands.

At my place, the accumulating K’s and 0’s in the Bronx were accompanied
by an obbligato of oh-my-Gods from my wife, who can hardly bear baseball
unless her team is ahead by eight or ten runs. Her recent O.M.G.s followed
every at bat by Aaron Judge, who is three for nineteen in the Yankees’
five post-season games, with twelve strikeouts. As we know, his
fifty-two home runs this year were the best ever by a rookie in
major-league history, but he also struck out two hundred and eight times
in the regular season, the most by any Yankee ever. I’m trying to get
used to this new mode of unembarrassed strikeouts by the batters, but
Judge is also helping me to adjust, thanks to his scary drives and his
abiding calm and his powerfully stretched six-feet-seven bod and other
contributions. He saved Sunday’s 1–0 Yankee win with a back-to-the-wall
leaping catch in the sixth inning, pulling in Francisco Lindor’s drive
from the first row of the stands, at a level unreachable by anyone not
in the N.B.A. His double in the second inning last night, which drove in
two runs, put the Yankees up 4–0 and, for me at least, felt almost
better than a shot into the back rows. I suspect, too, that those
endless strikeouts of his would be more severely judged if it weren’t
for the work of so many Yankees farther down in the order—Bird and
Castro and the rest. These new Yankees appreciate themselves above all,
and their joy has become ours.

Manager Joe Girardi was booed at the Stadium before Sunday’s squeaker—a
harsh response to his failure to challenge the ump’s ruling of a hit
batter, Lonnie Chisenhall. This was not quite a trifling mistake, since
replays showed that the pitch had caromed not off his hand but off the
base of his bat, where it was grabbed by catcher Sanchez for a potential
third out. Unchallenged, Chisenhall went to first base. The new Indians
batter, Lindor, delivered a grand slam, which brought the Tribe back
from an 8–3 deficit in a game they eventually won, in the thirteenth.

In his postgame interview on Sunday, Girardi said that he had prepared
his family for the boos, but admitted that they were deserved. “I kind
of expected it,” he said. “I’ve seen them boo players and managers that
have a lot more status than I do.” But that was just the Yankee fans
speaking, he said. “You get the good side of it, too, like tonight.”

Thanks, Joe, and good luck on Wednesday out there in Cleveland. Indians
fans care a lot, too, but they never would have booed you. Only New York
guys like us understand this: boos can be good.

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