CLEVELAND – Before the start of this wild-card series, Aaron Boone said his most difficult decision for his Game 1 lineup was choosing veteran Brett Gardner over Clint Frazier.
The manager made the same choice for Wednesday night’s Game 2 and it sounded like it wasn’t nearly as tough, even with his continued confidence in Frazier.
"Yeah, I wanted him back in there tonight," Boone said Wednesday afternoon of Gardner, who went 3-for-5 with a homer in the Yankees’ 12-3 victory over Cleveland in Game 1 of the best-of-three set (Gardner went 0-for-3 with a run scored in the 10-9 victory Wednesday night). "Especially after continuing to build on what’s been a really strong finish."
Gardner, though he finished the season hitting .223 with a .354 on-base percentage, was hot at year’s end, hitting .385 (10-for-26) with a .500 OBP over his last nine games.
The 26-year-old Frazier, by comparison, was hot most of year but slumped down the stretch, ending the season in a 1-for-20 funk that left him with a .267 season average (though a still very respectable .905 OPS).
"The thing that makes it difficult is the confidence I also have in Clint (who went 0-for-1 as a pinch hitter Wednesday night). And Mike Tauchman, for that matter," Boone said.
It would have been Happ
Boone reiterated that, if there had been a deciding Game 3 here Thursday, it likely would have been started by J.A. Happ. The 37-year-old lefthander, in the final year of his contract, finished the season 2-2 with a 3.47 ERA in nine starts, including 1-1 with a 2.22 ERA over his last four starts.
More impressive numbers for Cole
With his 13 strikeouts in Game 1 of this series and his 15 strikeouts in Game 2 of the 2019 ALDS vs. Tampa Bay (when he was with Houston), Gerrit Cole became the second pitcher in MLB history to record at least 13 strikeouts in two postseason games. Bob Gibson, who struck out 13 in Game 5 of the 1964 World Series against the Yankees and punched out 17 in Game 1 of the 1968 World Series vs. Detroit, is the other.