Not many predicted that the Cleveland Guardians would go the distance with the New York Yankees in the postseason, let alone win a wildcard series or win the AL Central with the youngest team in baseball that played 17 rookies, played eleven sets of doubleheaders throughout the season, and mount 30 comeback wins in their last at-bat. The Guardians even led the ALDS 2-1 with a chance to finish off the Yankees at sold-out Progressive Field on Sunday and reach to the ALCS.
The pitching staff held MVP-candidate Aaron Judge to 4-20 with 11 strikeouts after he set an American League with 62 regular season home runs. The offense outhit the Yankees in the series 44-28, and in all but one game. However, the Guardians left 39 runners on base compared to the Yankees' 24. Additionally, Cleveland was out-homered in the series 9-3, and today the Yankees' stars truly made the difference: Giancarlo Stanton crushed a three-run homer in the first inning while Aaron Judge launched a solo homer in the second to put the Yankees ahead 4-0. The Guardians loaded the bases in the third inning, but mustered their only run on a Jose Ramirez sacrifice fly and did not inch any closer. Finally, in the fifth inning, Anthony Rizzo extended the lead back to four runs with an RBI single for the final tally.
Before the postseason exit, the Guardians defeated the Tampa Bay Rays, the best AL team in each of the previous two seasons including a World Series appearance, in two games of the wildcard round. It was Cleveland's first series win since capturing the 2016 AL Pennant en route to the World Series. Under Manager Terry Francona's ten-year tenure, Cleveland has reached the postseason six times with four division crowns, and will continue to be in contention for years to come.