The Yankees had the best bullpen in baseball this season and were extremely efficient at putting runners in scoring position and bringing them in for the score. But this ALCS matchup against the Astros was just a different mountain for New York to climb, and ultimately those huge strengths became weaknesses as their season ended on Saturday night in Houston.
After DJ LeMahieu initially saved the Yankees' season with a two-run shot to right field in the top of the ninth inning with one out, Aaron Boone sent out Aroldis Chapman to close out the inning and try to send the game into extra innings.
Chapman got rid of the first two batters before walking George Springer, bringing Jose Altuve up for a two-out, one-man-on, at-bat. Altuve took two balls and a strike looking...
And then sent the Astros to the World Series with a walk-off homer to left center field.
"It's going to happen," Boone said after the game. "I thought Chappy hung a pitch and a great player got him."
Altuve's walk-off home run was just the second one ever given by Chapman in the postseason. The only other time? Another two-run shot by Rajai Davis in Game 7 of the 2016 World Series in the bottom of the eighth with two outs to tie the game.
Despite being one of the best closers in the game -- and being paid like one after signing a five-year, $86 million contract in 2017 -- it seems that Chapman has a problem when his team needs him most in the biggest moments of the postseason.
That can't just be said about the Yankee closer though, as the bullpen as a whole had problems throughout this series that ultimately was too much to overcome.
Chad Green got the start in Saturday's bullpen game for the New York, but had to be pulled after just one inning in which he put two runners on base before Yuli Gurriel hit a three-run home run to break the game open in the first inning.
"Greeny gave up that home run early, but you kind of look at that pitch and it's a great job by Gurriel. I think he was just uber aggressive on selling out on, obviously fastballs, but in a certain spot too and somehow got to that and hit it out," Boone said.
"Obviously a couple of those is the difference in the ball game"
Luckily for Green and the Yankees, it was Luis Cessa and J.A. Happ that combined for 4.0 innings of scoreless baseball.
Adam Ottavino essentially pitched his way out of the bullpen rotation for Game 5 after giving up three earned runs on six hits in 1.1 innings pitched over the first four games -- twice needing to be taken off the mound without registering an out.
Tommy Kahnle gave up his first earned run of the series Saturday night after giving up a hit and a walk in one inning of pitching. Although he has been rather consistent otherwise, the timing definitely hurt the Yankees.
"Little bit of a product of probably being a little tired too at this point, haven't used him a lot these last few days," Boone said.
What the pitching was unable to do was matched by the offenses inability to put runs on the board with RISP. Despite being the best team in baseball during the regular season with runners in scoring position, that output failed to carry over into this series.
Just in Game 6 alone, the Yankees went 1-for-6 with RISP, and looking away from the 7-0 win in Game 1, the Yankees went just 3-for-24 over the remaining five games in the series.
You can't expect to bring runners in every time they're in position to score, but leaving that many runs off the board is obviously a series-changer, as we can see by who is holding the AL Pennant now.
"A lot of times the teams that eventually go home, it's sometimes a result of not capitalizing enough when you have opportunities," Boone said.
The Yankees failure to capitalize on both sides of the ball in the most pressured week of the year will be something the team will certainly be thinking about this winter.
But for now, they'll watch another World Series from home.