The New York Yankees ran out of pixie dust, and their magical run to the postseason ended emphatically on Saturday night when Jose Altuve slammed the Houston Astros into the World Series.
While manager Aaron Boone should be given overwhelming credit for getting the Yankees into the playoffs given their laundry list of injuries, he was far from perfect in this series, and these four blunders cost the Yankees a chance at ring No. 28.
5. Taking Chad Green Out in Game 2
After relieving an up-and-down James Paxton early in Game 2, Green was dealing through two strong innings. Rather than ride a guy who can throw multiple innings, he took Green out after just 26 pitches, and Adam Ottavino promptly gave up a home run on his first pitch to George Springer, which tied the game. The Astros would win that game 3-2 in extra innings on a walk off, and the game might not have even ended up in extras if Boone trusted Green.
4. Continuing to Pitch Adam Ottavino in High-Leverage Situations
No one can deny that Ottavino was nails in the regular season, as he posted a career-best 1.90 ERA, but he just did not have it in the postseason. He was piping his fastball right down the middle, while the Astros were laying off of his trademark sweeping slider. Rather than go to any number of talented relievers in high-leverage spots, Boone kept staying with Ottavino, which help further dig the Yankees' grave in this series. He allowed four runs over 2.1 innings of work and didn't record an out in FOUR appearances.
3. Batting Brett Gardner Third in 3 Straight Games
Brett Gardner is many things. Leader? Check. Quality defender? Check. Solid contact hitter? Check. No. 3 hitter against the best pitching staff in baseball? Not at all. While Boone was obsessed with avoiding a run of right-handed bats against the Astros righty-dominant staff, he eschewed all logic by putting one of his worst hitters in a prominent offensive role. Needless to say, Gardner flopped.
2. Not Walking Jose Altuve in Game 6
Yeah it's classic revisionist history, but with Jake Marisnick on deck for the Astros, the Yankees should've walked Jose Altuve. The 5-6 former MVP had been raking all game, and even though this would've moved a runner into scoring position, it was a better option thank facing Altuve. Period.
1. Not Starting Giancarlo Stanton in Game 6
In a series when half the team simply forgot how to hit (looking at you, Gary Sanchez), Stanton impressed in this series, going 2-for-4 with a home run in a dominant Game 1. While injuries prevented Stanton from playing at 100% in this series, there's no possible justification for leaving their second-biggest power threat out of an elimination game (unless he physically couldn't, but that apparently was not the case). Even a wounded Stanton could have produced something greater than what Gardner or Edwin Encarnacion gave the Yankees.