Guardians vs Yankees score: Cleveland takes Game 2 as Jameson Taillon gives up two in extras

NEW YORK — The ALDS is now a best-of-three. Friday afternoon Oscar Gonzalez and a dominant bullpen performance delivered the Cleveland Guardians a 10-inning 4-2 win (box score) in Game 2 against the New York Yankees. The series heads to Cleveland Saturday night tied at a game apiece.

New York jumped out to an early 2-0 lead thanks to Giancarlo Stanton’s first inning home run, but the Guardians rallied to tie the game in the middle innings, then found grass with some weak pop ups in the tenth inning to take the lead. Cleveland’s bullpen held the Yankees to one single in 4 1/3 innings.

Here are four takeaways from Game 2:

Stanton homered after he should have walked

Shane Bieber got a gift call from home plate umpire Jeremie Rehak in the first inning (or so he thought). His 3-1 cutter to Giancarlo Stanton was called a strike even though it was below the zone and off the plate a little. Here’s the pitch location:

The home plate umpire called this 3-1 pitch to Giancarlo Stanton a strike.
Baseball Savant

Guardians catcher Austin Hedges is an elite pitch-framer and either he stole a strike or Rehak straight up blew the call. Either way, the call gave Bieber a reprieve and another chance to put Stanton away and end the first inning. He didn’t do it. The next pitch was a fastball up but not up enough, and Stanton parked it in the right field short porch for a two-run homer and a 2-0 lead.

If the 3-1 pitch is called a ball and Stanton walks, perhaps the next batter (Josh Donaldson) makes an out to end the inning and strand the two runners. Or maybe he hits a three-run homer. Who knows? What we do know is the strike call extended the at-bat and gave Stanton another chance to do damage, and he capitalized.

With that homer, Stanton has gone deep nine times in his last 12 postseason games, and he has 10 homers through 20 career postseason games. Only Carlos Beltrán (11) had more homers through 20 career postseason games. Stanton entered 2022 as a career .288/.372/.712 hitter in the postseason. The 2017 NL MVP has been a one-man wrecking crew in October.

Cortes saved his own bacon

From the seat of his pants, no less. With the bases loaded and two outs in the fourth inning, Myles Straw chopped a comebacker up the middle that Cortes reached up and grabbed. He came down and landed on his behind, yet was still able to make the throw to first base to get the out. Straw is one of the fastest players in baseball. Cortes had no time to spare.

If Cortes doesn’t stop that, it’s in center field for a two-run go-ahead single. At minimum, knocking it down would have kept the ball on the infield and prevented the second run from scoring. Getting the inning-ending out at first base was almost a bonus.

Overall, the Guardians put two runs on the board in five innings against Cortes despite having several chances to really put a dent in the scoreboard. They stranded a runner in four of five innings against the All-Star lefty and had multiple runners in base in three of five innings. Cortes bent but ultimately did not break.

Judge struggling in the ALDS

Through two games, 62-homer man Aaron Judge is 0 for 8 with a walk and seven strikeouts in the ALDS, including 0 for 5 with four strikeouts in Game 2. The Guardians have done a great job keeping the AL MVP favorite in check through two games. Also, Judge has batted with zero runners on base in the series. They’ve given him no chance to do any kind of damage.

Judge, it should be noted, went 8 for 37 (.216) with 15 strikeouts in his final 13 regular season games, limping to the finish a bit. He also went 1 for 20 with 16 — 16! — strikeouts against Cleveland in the 2017 ALDS. Between that series and this one, he hit .242/.354/.550 with 10 HR in 29 postseason games. The Guardians seem to have his number in October.

Cleveland was rewarded for contact

No team in baseball put the ball in play more often than the Guardians this season, and in the tenth inning, that contact ability was rewarded with two bloop hits to win the game. First, José Ramírez dunked what should have been a single to shallow left, but because he hustled to second on the play, Josh Donaldson rushed the throw and it sailed wide of the second base, allowing Ramírez to get to third with no outs. A little ball-in-play luck and a little hustle set Cleveland up.

The next batter, Oscar Gonzalez, fell behind in the count 0-2, fouled away a couple of pitches to work it back to 1-2, then plopped a go-ahead single to right. The ball was perfectly placed between first baseman Aaron Rizzo and right fielder Aaron Judge.

Based on the exit velocity and launch angle, Statcast gave Ramírez’s ball a 9 percent change of falling in for a hit, and Gonzalez’s a 37 percent chance. Well-placed is better than well-struck. Then again, Josh Naylor smoked a ball with a 108.5 mph exit velocity over Harrison Bader’s head one batter later, giving the Guardians an important insurance run. Well-struck works too.

Cleveland was rewarded for contact in the tenth inning while the Yankees struggled to make contact period. Three Guardians relievers combined to face 18 batters and they allowed only six balls in play (eight strikeouts, four walks, three ground outs, one fly out, one force out and one single). 

Up next

Game 3 in Cleveland on Saturday night. The Game 2 postponement means there are no off-days remaining in this series, so the Yankees and Guardians are playing every day until this one is settled. Triston McKenzie (11-11, 2.96 ERA) and Luis Severino (7-3, 3.18 ERA) are the Game 3 scheduled starters. The first team to wins advances to the ALCS.

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