Gerrit Cole delivers, helps Yankees bounce back against Guardians to stage win-win showdown

Gerrit Cole did his part. The Yankees ace pitched seven innings and allowed just two runs to subdue the Cleveland Guardians, 4-2, in Game 4 of the American League Division Series and force a Game 5 win-win Monday night. The victor will advance to face Houston Astros in the ALCS.

It’s a familiar cast of characters lifting the Yankees in this series. Both of the Yankees’ wins in this series have been attributed to Cole. And Harrison Bader again led the offense for New York, hitting a two-run homer, his third in the series. The Yankees scored early Cal Quantrill, then Cole took it from there. He allowed a run in the third and fourth innings, but otherwise stayed out of trouble and gave manager Aaron Boone the length of a thin bullpen he desperately needed.

Boone turned to Clay Holmes and earned a scoreless frame after refusing to use it in the Yankees’ ninth-inning collapse in Game 3. Wandy Peralta closed the victory.

Cleveland got at least one hit from its first six batters, but only Josh NaylorThe circuit in the fourth was of the extra-basic variety. It was a memorable trip around the basics if nothing else. Naylor first “rocked the baby” at a celebration.

Now tied at two, the series will quickly return to the Bronx on Monday for a decisive Game 5. Both teams should basically use bullpen games. Yankees starter Nestor Cortes Jr. — whose Game 2 exit was delayed by rain — could be available for a multi-inning stint. If Cleveland uses a starter for multiple innings, it’s likely to be Aaron Civale.

The Postponement of game 2 has pushed the Yankees’ injury-riddled bullpen into a tough game against Cleveland and Terry Francona’s fully armed relief corps. The risk was played out on Saturday evening, when Guardians playoff hero Oscar Gonzalez capped a ninth-inning rally against mediocre Yankees relievers with a scoreless single.

Monday’s Game 5 is scheduled for 7:07 p.m. ET on TBS.

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