Guardians must beat Gerrit Cole to eliminate Yankees

The Cleveland Guardians saw plenty of pitches early on from Gerrit Cole in Game 1 on Tuesday.

The Yankees again turn to Cole in an attempt to keep their season going while the Guardians are hoping to capitalize on their familiarity with the right-hander Sunday night in Game 4 of the American League Division Series in Cleveland.

Cleveland is seeking its sixth trip to the AL Championship Series, first since 2016, and third ALDS win over the Yankees (1997, 2007).

The Guardians are on the verge of eliminating the Yankees after getting two wins in their final at-bat thanks to Oscar Gonzalez. The rookie’s three hits in the ninth inning or later match David Ortiz (2004) for the most in a single postseason in MLB history.

Gonzalez delivered the tiebreaking single in the 10th inning Friday against Jameson Taillon to even the series with a 4-2 victory in New York. On Saturday, he was down to his final strike against Clarke Schmidt before getting a two-run bases-loaded single to give the Guardians a 6-5 walk-off win.

Cole (1-0, 1.42 ERA 2022 postseason, 13-8, 3.50 ERA regular season) limited Cleveland to one run on four hits in 6 1/3 innings in the series opener. He threw 60 of his 101 pitches in the first three innings when Cleveland had ample opportunities to add to an early lead. The Yankees won the opener 4-1.

“Love that Gerrit’s on the mound,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “Let’s go get it. Tonight obviously was a gut-wrenching ending, but we got to get over it. Now we’re obviously up against it, but I still love our chances. Got Gerrit going tomorrow. Got to go take care of business and try and get back to New York.”

Cole is 9-5 with a 2.83 ERA in 15 career postseason starts. In five previous postseason elimination games, he is 1-3 with a 4.26 ERA.

If Cole can help extend the series, Game 5 is Monday night in New York.

It’s uncertain if Clay Holmes will pitch if the Yankees have the lead in the late innings.

Boone said he held Holmes out of Game 3 because of soreness after the right-hander pitched in the first two games. Holmes said he was fine and expected to pitch Saturday after throwing 16 pitches in Game 2.

On Sunday, Cleveland is hoping to continue offensively what is has done in its two wins.

The Guardians went 9-for-17 with runners in scoring position Saturday when 13 of their15 hits were singles. On Friday, six of Cleveland’s nine hits were singles when it went 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position.

“I think it’s really rewarding,” Cleveland leadoff man Steven Kwan said. “We obviously have a different style of baseball. To see that succeed and see that prevail I think is, really rewarding for the game. It shows we’re not going to change our game style for anybody. As long as we keep rolling, we can do it.”

Kwan scored on Gonzalez’s hit and is 6-for-14 in the series, including a homer off Cole on Tuesday. Jose Ramirez had three hits and is 6-for-13 in the series, including the leadoff double in the 10th Friday, ahead of scoring on Gonzalez’s single.

Besides getting more clutch hits, Cleveland is hoping for an effective outing from Cal Quantrill (0-1, 5.40 ERA 2022 postseason), who was 9-0 with a 3.28 ERA in 19 regular-season home starts.

In the series opener, Quantrill allowed a solo homer to Harrison Bader and a two-run homer to Anthony Rizzo when he gave up four runs in five-plus innings in his first career postseason start.

“I’ll be prepared and I’m sure that there will be a little extra pressure and I’m sure it will be exciting, and the fans will be loud,” Quantrill said before Game 3. “That’s stuff we look forward to.”

–Larry Fleisher, Field Level Media