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Harrison Bader’s blast paces Yankees past Guardians to force a Game 5

This is what we asked for way back in April, isn’t it?

Division Series - New York Yankees v Cleveland Guardians - Game Four Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

It’s win or go home, now. The New York Yankees defeated the Cleveland Guardians by a final score of 4-2. Gerrit Cole held the Guardians to two runs in seven innings while Harrison Bader blasted a two-run home run off of Guardians starter Cal Quantrill in the second.

While José Ramírez singled in a run in the third and Josh Naylor crunched a homer in the fourth, the Cleveland offense fell shy of the run production enjoyed by Quantrill during the season.

In the loss, Quantrill pitched five innings; He allowed three runs, four hits, and one walk while striking out three.

Anthony Rizzo opened the scoring with a single in the first to score Gleyber Torres. Rizzo then appeared to time Quantrill’s set. He darted toward second before one of the following pitches, but Quantrill ran him down and applied a ball-handed tag to record the out.

Quantrill found fewer shenanigans and more trouble in the second inning. Josh Donaldson’s single set up Harrison Bader’s two-run shot, which landed deep in the left-center field bleachers.

I cannot imagine that it feels great to stand on the mound down 3-0 with one out in the third in Game 4 of the Dang ALDS, folks.

Clevelanders have heard all about pitchers that shake in boots or crumble late in the year. Cal Quantrill does not appear to be one. He tidied up the inning with two consecutive groundouts. He then dispatched the Yankees with three batted ball outs in the top of the third.

A leadoff walk by Austin Hedges put Cleveland in an excellent position to reduce its deficit in the bottom half of the third. Myles Straw lined out to short and Kwan grounded into a fielder’s choice before Rosario singled. Ramírez. Two on. Down three. Naturally, he blooped it to left. Kwan scored from second base easily.

Meanwhile, Aaron Hicks fielded the ball and ran Amed Rosario in at third before firing to Torres at second. Ramírez had strayed far enough from first to warrant a throw to the infield, and by throwing to second Hicks offered Torres a chance to go home. Rosario stayed at third, Torres relayed to first, and Rizzo slapped the tag into Ramírez’s armpit. Cleveland challenged, and it did not take long to confirm the call on the field and end the inning.

If you could have one out back from tonight, I think it’s that one.

Cleveland responded from this misfortune by retiring the Yankees in order and then leading off the next inning like this.

Just, you know, his son.

Oscar Gonzalez gave us all the vapors when he cranked a would-be back-to-back job foul. He ultimately struck out. Andrés Giménez flew out. Gabriel Arias struck out, too. The momentum jolted into Cleveland’s crowd waned.

If you could have one opportunity back from tonight’s game — that one.

Francona handed the baseball to Eli Morgan for the sixth inning. Judge reached on a close play at first. While the ball beat the runner to the bag, the first base umpire ruled that Arias’s foot left the bag. Replay review upheld this, erasing Cleveland’s final challenge. A bloop double to left field gave the Guardians a taste of their own medicine before a Stanton sacrifice fly changed the score to 4-2, New York. Morgan settled back down and struck out the next two hitters.

Cleveland gained no more in the bottom of the sixth as Cole cut down Rosario, Ramírez, and Naylor in order.

As the seventh began, there was some question about exactly whom the Cleveland Guardians trotted out to throw. Cody Morris. THAT Cody Morris? Yes. He retired the side in order. We shall return to Cody.

Giménez hustled out a double in the bottom of the frame. The official scorekeeper ruled it an error on Bader, but in my mind, that discredits the baserunner’s initiative (insanity?). Bader recovered and made a great throw. Made it close. Cole wrapped up the seventh on pitch 110 by striking out Will Brennan after his call for time went answered.

Cody Morris retired a fourth batter, a fifth batter, and then completed the top of the eighth by fanning Rizzo with disrespectful Buggs Bunny off-speed filth. Guys don’t just show up and strike out 17.61 per nine at Triple-A every year.

Despite two critical innings of relief from Morris, Cleveland could not find momentum at the plate as Clay Holmes silenced the Guardians bats in the bottom half. Then, Zack Plesac — yes, the starting pitcher from the regular season — sat down his three assigned hitters in order. Would this be the jolt to wake the Guardiac Kids?

Not this time. Wandy Peralta dominated Guardians hitters in the bottom of the ninth to complete the 4-2 victory and earn a save.

It’s hard to understate how important Cole’s performance might end up being to the Yankees. The teams were supposed to have an off-day yesterday, but rain jumbled the schedule. Cleveland is used to dealing with this and will respond with something not unlike a bullpen game.

The Yankees? It remains to be seen, but they used only Holmes and Peralta tonight after using Trivino, Loaisiga, and Schmidt last night. There are fresh arms and those that might be fresh enough for late-inning magic.

The series is now tied at two wins apiece. The American League Division Series comes down to a game five at Yankee Stadium tomorrow night at 7:07 PM.