Yankees vs Guardians score: Cleveland go 6-5 in wild ALDS Game 3 final

Yankees vs Guardians score: Cleveland go 6-5 in wild ALDS Game 3 final

The Cleveland Guardians beat the New York Yankees 6-5 in walk-off mode Saturday in Game 3 of the American League Division Series. The Guardians rallied from a 5-3 deficit in the ninth, scoring three runs to take a 2-1 advantage in the best of five series. With another victory, the Guardians will advance to play the Houston Astros for the AL pennant. (The Astros won their ALDS against the Seattle Mariners on Saturday night.)

The Yankees fell behind early, with the Guardians putting up runs in the first and second innings to take a 2-0 lead. The New York offense rallied with a pair of two-run homers that gave them a 4-2 lead, including Aaron Judge’s first hit of the series:

Starter Luis Severino followed the same trajectory as his team: tough at first, then smooth. He started in sixth with two runners. One of the two would score, cutting the Yankees’ lead to 4-3, but another home run (Harrison Bader) and the New York bullpen looked set to hold the 5-3 lead.

The Guardians rallied in ninth, however, with four straight hits that cut the Yankees’ lead to one. Oscar Gonzalez then delivered a two-out single that scored a pair of runs and sealed the shocking victory for the Guardians.

Here are six things to know about the Guardians’ Game 3 win.

1. Gonzalez plays the hero again

Last Saturday, Oscar Gonzalez homered to end the Guardians’ marathon game against the Tampa Bay Rays and put his name on the national stage. The win moved the Guardians forward in this series. While Gonzalez had to settle for a single against the Yankees on Saturday, it nonetheless helped the Guardians earn an unlikely victory.

When Luke Maile struck to start the bottom of the ninth, the Guardians had less than 5% win expectation, according to FanGraphs. Things can change quickly in baseball, and it turned out to be the case on Saturday. Myles Straw, Steven Kwan, Amed Rosario and José Ramírez all scored a single, which resulted in the score and loaded bases. One Josh Naylor strikeout later, and the Guardians were on their final exit.

It was then that Gonzalez did this:

It should be noted that Yankees manager Aaron Boone attempted to stretch Wandy Peralta for a full second inning and brought in Clarke Schmidt – not Clay Holmes – to try and lock things down. Maybe the Guardians would have rallied on their onslaught of well-placed singles anyway, but that means the Yankees will have even more reason to come back to Game 3 with regret if they lose this series.

Of course, none of that matters to the Guardians or Gonzalez. They just have another reason to celebrate an unlikely hero.

2. Severino is recovering from a difficult start

Severino ended his night with a quality start: 5 2/3 innings, eight hits, three runs and no walks with six strikeouts on 106 pitches. It qualified as a win in some ways, as it marked a massive turnaround from the start of his night.

Simply put, Severino was so shaky early on that manager Aaron Boone heated up right-hander Domingo Germán in the bullpen in the second inning.

Severino allowed three hits in the first inning, then three more in the second. Yet in both cases he blocked a pair of base runners who, had they scored, could have broken up the game early and led to a drastically different outcome. Boone allowed Severino to start the third inning, and Severino rewarded his manager’s faith.

Indeed, Severino righted the ship from there, striking out 13 straight batters until Andrés Giménez hit a field single in the sixth inning.

Severino’s counterpart, Triston McKenzie, started the night in much better shape than the Yankee. Late in the night, however, McKenzie left after throwing five innings and allowing four runs on four hits and a walk.

2. The judge breaks the crisis with a home run

As mentioned in the intro, Judge delivered his first hit of the ALDS and, by virtue of the Yankees having a first-round bye, of the entire playoffs. It was a 449-foot explosion that had an exit velocity of 113.7 mph, according to Statcast.

Judge had entered Saturday mired in the worst slump of the season: 0 for 8 with seven strikeouts and a walk in the first two games.

“I don’t mean to be rude, but if we had (a plan to stop Judge), I’m not sure I would really want to share it. It doesn’t make much sense,” he added. Guardians manager Terry Francona said after Game 2. “I think sometimes – hitters can’t press a button. As good as guys are, sometimes guys take 0-fors. They’re gonna get up here and pound our chest. He’s too dangerous. We know that.

Judge’s struggles came as a surprise, in part because he’s coming off one of the best offensive seasons in history, breaking the AL and Yankees single-season home run records (with 62 long balls) and competing for the AL Triple Crown.

3. Starting left fielders have big games

It was a good night and a good game for the rookie outfielders.

The Yankees’ Oswaldo Cabrera had two hits: a double in the third inning that rushed Judge’s two-run shot, then a two-run home run in the fifth. His home run had an exit speed of 104.8 mph and traveled 409 feet:

Cabrera appeared in only 44 regular season competitions, making him one of the least experienced players in this series.

On the other side of the field, Steven Kwan of the Guardians also recorded three hits. He started the bottom of the first with a double (then scored), scored a run in the second with a single, and scored a single again in the ninth. He even scored the winning point. Kwan, of course, was one of the majors’ most productive rookies during the regular season, appearing in 147 games and amassing 5.5 wins above replacement, according to Baseball Reference’s calculations.

4. What a 2-1 lead means

It should come as no surprise, but going ahead 2-1 in a best-of-five series is a big deal. Namely, our own research by Dayn Perry found that teams that took a 2-1 lead in the LDS win those series about 75% of the time. This would seem to bode well for the Guardians’ chances of making it into the ALCS. Even so, the Yankees should not be counted out until they are officially eliminated.

5. What’s next

The Yankees and Guardians meet in Cleveland for Game 4 on Sunday. The Guardians have a chance to close the series, while the Yankees will try to avoid elimination and force a return to New York for a deciding Game 5.

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