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Yankees’ season ends in ALDS

NEW YORK — A year after making an improbable journey that ended in Game 7 of the ALCS, the Yankees entered 2018 full of expectations. Adding Giancarlo Stanton to an already stacked line-up that already featured guys like Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, and Didi Gregorius, New York’s success this season was going to be defined by one thing: a championship.

Regrettably for the Yankees, their chase for the franchise’s 28th championship ended Tuesday night, as the team fell just short in Game 4 of the ALDS, losing 4-3 to the Boston Red Sox.

While the team’s offense scuffled all night, the Bombers had one last rally in them in the bottom of the ninth inning. Facing one of baseball’s premier closers in Craig Kimbrel, the boys in Pinstripes did not want to go out without a fight.

With Judge leading off the frame with a walk, Gregorius soon followed with a single. This got the New York faithful on their feet and perfectly set the stage for Stanton, who has struggled all series, to redeem himself.

Unfortunately for the first-year Yankee, and to the dismay of the crowd, he struck out on a pitch that was way out of the zone, and recorded the first out of the inning.

Luckily for New York, Luke Voit subsequently reignited the Stadium with a hard fought walk to load the bases for Neil Walker.

Walker, who started in place of Miguel Andujar, then got hit by a Kimbrel pitch to force in a run and cut the Boston lead to 4-2. The fired-up Walker then gave way to Sanchez, who was looking to tie the game with a base hit.

While the catcher eventually drove in another run with a sacrifice fly, he was definitely looking for more as he just missed a Grand Slam, that would’ve etched his name into Yankee history forever. Getting just a bit under the pitch, Benintendi was able to make the catch just in front of the wall in left field.

Still, the Yankees were still alive. With men on first and second, Gleyber Torres was at the plate, with a chance to tie the game.

With Kimbrel still on the mound, Torres would hit a chopper to Eduardo Nunez, who fielded and threw to first for the out. Though Aaron Boone challenged the play, replay showed the ball getting Steve Pearce’s glove just a tad bit ahead of Torres getting to the bag to end New York’s season and allow Boston to celebrate its series victory.

In the end, the Yankees just could not get the big hit. Struggling with runners in scoring position all series, New York’s inability to bring in runners eventually came back to bite them in the ALDS.

Though CC Sabathia got charged with three runs after a three-run third, it was a fourth inning solo homer that proved to be the difference.

With Zach Britton just coming in to relieve the big lefty in the fourth, Christian Vasquez, the Boston catcher that did not even play in the first two games, took Britton deep for a home run that just made the seats in right field. That made it 4-0, Boston, and eventually was the winning run of this ballgame.

Aside from Vasquez, other less notable Boston hitters were the ones that did damage against New York pitching. While J.D. Martinez did drive in the game’s first run with a sac fly, it was Ian Kinsler and Nunez that drove in the next two runs.

Alex Cora also went all-in on winning this game in Yankee Stadium, after bringing in Chris Sale to pitch the eighth. The lefty needed just 13 pitches to mow through that area of the Yankee order.

For New York, it is the end of a 100-win season that many feel should’ve ended in a championship. Still, with most of the core still below 30 years old, the Yankees should still be able to field a competitive team for years to come.

With many key players free agents this winter, Brian Cashman will have a lot of questions to answer entering the Winter. Will long-time Yankees Brett Gardner and CC Sabathia remain in Pinstripes? Does the team need all three of Zach Britton, Dellin Betances, and David Robertson to come back next year? Have rentals J.A. Happ and Andrew McCutchen done enough to warrant a return to the Bronx?

With still months before Spring Training, the team and its fans will have lots of time to answer these questions, ponder what went wrong this year, and look forward to 2019.

The Chase for 28 continues.