When his team needed a bit of a break, Anthony Rizzo delivered a big exhalation in one fell swoop.
In the sixth inning of a one-run game, Rizzo extended the Yankees’ lead by smashing a two-run homer on the way to a 4-1 win over the Guardians in Game 1 of the ALDS on Tuesday night. in the Bronx.
The Yankees had taken a 2-1 fifth-inning lead on Jose Trevino’s sacrifice fly, but that still looked somewhat tenuous in their playoff opener — especially with an uncertain bullpen.
Rizzo quickly changed the sentiment in the building, sending the sold-out crowd of 47,807 into a frenzy.
“Any time you can add a lead, especially in a series like this where there’s five games and kind of a sprint, it feels good,” Rizzo said. “I feel good with our staff, with our bullpen, the way we are designed and lined up after the break and after the break. So yes, as many points as we can score, it feels good.
With Aaron Judge on third base and no out, Cal Quantrill made a full count against Rizzo, then threw a cutter right in the middle. The veteran first baseman didn’t miss, hitting the field into the second deck in right field – followed by a big bat flip to the Yankees dugout – to extend the lead to 4-1 .
“It was huge,” shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa said. “I wouldn’t say relief, but it definitely gave us a boost. It got us started and gave the bullpen some much-needed runs to hold on to the win.
After hitting 32 homers during the regular season — second on the team behind Judge’s new AL record 62 — Rizzo hit the Yankees’ second homer in the playoffs, after Harrison Bader’s third-inning solo shot.
Rizzo missed time during the season with back problems, but after returning from the injured list on September 18 (due to headaches resulting from the epidural he received to treat his back), the player 33-year-old hit .218 with two homers. and a .695 OPS in his last 13 games. Getting a productive Rizzo back for October will be key to the Yankees’ playoff hopes, especially as long as he continues to beat second to Judge.
Entering the ALDS, Rizzo provided the most experienced postseason bat in the Yankees’ starting lineup. Prior to Tuesday, he had played in 40 career playoff games, including 39 with the Cubs. Most of them came as he helped lead the Cubs to the 2016 World Series championship — against Cleveland.
“I think with experience, it’s just in the playoffs, things are going to happen that you’re just not used to seeing,” Rizzo said. “But I think the longer we stick together as a group internally, especially as it gets louder and louder outside, the better off we’ll be.”
New York Post