Yankees vs. Guardians score, takeaways: New York takes ALDS Game 1 behind Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rizzo (2024)

NEW YORK -- Yankee Stadium was full of firsts Tuesday night. It was the first postseason game in the Bronx since Game 5 of the 2019 ALCS. It was Gerrit Cole's first home postseason start as a Yankee. Two players hit their first career postseason home runs. And the New York Yankees won the first game of their ALDS matchup with the Cleveland Guardians (NYY 4, CLE 1).

Cole pitched around early trouble to give the Yankees 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball while striking out eight against the team with the lowest regular season strikeout rate in baseball. Anthony Rizzo put the game to bed with a two-run home run into the second deck in right field in the sixth inning. New York is now two wins away from advancing to the ALCS.

Here are takeaways from Game 1 between the Yankees and Guardians.

Cole navigates early danger

The Guardians certainly made Cole work in the early innings. They got a man to second base in the first and second innings, but Cole escaped with strikeouts, then some nifty defense helped him navigate a bases loaded, one-out jam in the third. Most notably, Josh Donaldson ranged to his left to scoop a ground, and threw home for the force out.

Following that out at home, Cole settled in and retired 12 of the final 14 batters he faced, and Cleveland did not have another runner advance as far as second base while he was on the mound. His only blemish was a Steven Kwan solo homer -- it was Kwan's first career postseason homer and only his seventh homer of 2022 -- and in three starts this season, Cole held the Guardians to three runs in 19 innings.

It should be noted that, although he needed 39 pitches to get through the first inning, Cole was able to take the ball into the seventh inning. That's important because the Yankees are without several key relievers due to injury (Zack Britton, Scot Effross, Chad Green, Michael King, etc.) and will need to cobble things together in the late innings this postseason. The more they get from their starters, the better.

"It was very special for me. It was very special," Cole said with a smile when asked about the ovation he received after Game 1. "The game's not over -- I left with traffic -- it's not the most comfortable time to acknowledge the crowd but I appreciated it."

The eventful fifth inning

There was some right-field funny business in the bottom of the fifth inning. First, Donaldson lifted what he and 47,807 people in the Bronx thought was a go-ahead solo home run into the right-field seats. The ball hit the very top of the wall and came back into play, however, and Donaldson was tagged out after rounding first base on his would-be home run trot. Replays confirmed the ball did indeed hit the top of the wall. It was not a home run.

The next batter, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, poked a single along the line in right field and Wild Card Series hero Oscar Gonzalez misplayed the hop, allowing the ball to go through his legs. Kiner-Falefa made it to third base on the error and Jose Trevino drove him in with a go-ahead sacrifice fly. Right field took a homer away from Donaldson and gave Kiner-Falefa three bases.

"That's what he's done all year. He made that error (in the first inning), he bounced back really well," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said about Kiner-Falefa after Game 1. "Obviously then gets a big hit in the corner to set is up. So yeah, it was good he got more chances and kind of bounced back from it."

Trevino, who made his first All-Star Game this summer, was incredibly clutch during the regular season. He had two walk-off hits and hit .355 with runners in scoring position. The sac fly wasn't a hit, but it came with two strikes and it gave the Yankees the lead in the postseason. Trevino has really been a godsend for New York this year.

Rizzo gives the Yankees insurance

The Yankees scored their first run on Harrison Bader's first career postseason home run, and also his first home run as a Yankee. He came over from the Cardinals at the trade deadline and was on the injured list with a foot injury. It wasn't until mid-September that he was activated, and he went 10 for 46 (.217) in a 14-game tune-up. Bader picked a good time for his first Yankees homer.

Bader tied the game 1-1 and Trevino gave the Yankees a 2-1 lead. In the sixth, Rizzo provided two insurance runs with a homer into the second deck in right field. With Andrew Benintendi hurt and Matt Carpenter currently relegated to pinch-hit duty, Rizzo is the only reliable source of left-handed power in New York's lineup. The Yankees need him to pepper the short porch.

Prior to Rizzo's blast, 62-homer man Aaron Judge reminded everyone he is so much more than a home run hitter. He worked a leadoff walk against Cal Quantrill, stole second, then took third when the throw went into center field. Judge went 16 for 19 stealing bases this year in addition to those 62 homers. He's such a gifted, well-rounded player.

Once Rizzo gave the Yankees a 4-1 lead, manager Aaron Boone was able to navigate through the final three innings with righty Jonathan Loáisiga, lefty Wandy Peralta, and righty Clay Holmes. Game 1 was Peralta's first appearance since Sept. 18. He missed the last few weeks of the regular season with a back injury. It was also Holmes' first appearance since Sept. 26. He missed the end of the regular season with a shoulder issue. Clearly, the Yankees were comfortable throwing him (and Peralta) right into the fire.

Up next

Game 2, of course. Historically, teams that win Game 1 of a best-of-five series have gone on to win the series 71 percent of the time. The ALDS schedule is a little unusual this year, with an off-day between Games 1 and 2 and Games 2 and 3. Game 2 is scheduled for Thursday night, though the forecast suggests the weather could be an issue. Whenever Game 2 is played, it'll be Nestor Cortes (12-4, 2.44 ERA) against Shane Bieber (13-8, 2.88 ERA).

Yankees vs. Guardians score, takeaways: New York takes ALDS Game 1 behind Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rizzo (2024)
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