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Yankees power punches not enough to fend off Guardians jabs in Game 3 loss

CLEVELAND, OH — Death by a thousand cuts. That’s what happened to the New York Yankees, as the Cleveland Guardians slashed and dashed 15 hits and walked off ALCS Game 3 with a 6-5 victory. This was about as an inept loss as it gets for the Yankees.

New York had three hitters account for their five hits and five runs. The bullpen management was abysmal. Oh, and Isiah Kiner-Falefa was brutal at shortstop.

Speaking of which, with the Yankees and Luis Severino almost in and out of trouble during the first frame, Kiner-Falefa botched a ball hit by Josh Naylor, which enabled the Guardians to take a 1-0 edge.  This boosted Severino’s pitch count and would prove costly as the game progressed.

The hit parade against Severino continued into the second stanza, as six of the first 10 batters in the game collected a base knock. With runners in scoring position, a one-out single to right by Steven Kwan doubled the Cleveland lead.

Miraculously, Severino kept it within striking distance from there and allowed the offense a chance to respond.

In the third inning, the Bronx Bombers did exactly that against Triston McKenzie. Oswaldo Cabrera lined a one-out double to right to get it cooking. With two down, Aaron Judge crushed a bomb to center for the equalizer.

The Bronx Bombers were back for more in the fifth frame. Harrison Bader led off with a single and then Cabrera pimped a one-out rocket to right, providing the Yankees their first advantage of the evening at 4-2.

The reset also calmed down Severino, who tamped down the Guardians lineup, retiring 11 straight batters. However, with two down in the sixth, Kiner-Falefa struck again on a ground ball from Andres Gimenez, which should’ve been the third out. A poor throw enabled Gimenez to reach on what was somehow ruled a hit. Hence, instead of the inning being done and Severino preserving his pitch count and potentially pitching into the seventh inning, he couldn’t wiggle out of the inning, allowing a hit to Gabriel Arias, before being pulled.

Thus, the Yankees went to the bullpen earlier than anticipated. Lou Trivino was called upon and yielded an RBI-single to Will Brennan, as Cleveland cut the lead to 4-3.

The Yankees would get that run back in the seventh, as Bader boomed a one-out solo shot off Sam Hentges, making it 5-3.

During the home half of the seventh, Manager Aaron Boone used Jonathan Loaisiga for a minimum of three batters. Loaisiga recorded the first two outs but yielded a soft infield single to third by Jose Ramirez. He was pulled Wandy Peralta, who struck out Naylor.

Peralta did yeoman’s work with a one-two-three eighth and recorded the first out of the ninth. Yet, the Guardians resumed with their bloops and bleeders and proceeded to slice up a Yankee bullpen paying two closers $35 million not to pitch in October.

Peralta yielded a bloop hit to left, and on the Cabrera dive and miss, Straw advanced to second base. Could Boone have brought in Tim Locastro as a defensive replacement in the ninth? Perhaps but I digress. The ensuing batter Kwan followed suit with a single to left. With runners at the corners, Boone pulled Peralta for Clarke Schmidt.

According to Boone in the postgame press conference, Clay Holmes was unavailable. That was apparently news to Holmes, who said he was ready to pitch.

With Schmidt on, Amed Rosario promptly singled against the shift to left and plated Straw. After Schmidt whiffed Naylor on three consecutive curves, for an inexplicable reason he threw a 1-2 slider over the plate to rookie hero Oscar Gonzalez, who delivered the 6-5 walk-off single to center.

Alas, the Yankees trail the series 2-1 and play a must-win Game 4 on Sunday night.