The New York Yankees have defeated the Cleveland Indians after facing an “insurmountable” 0-2 series deficit to advance to the ALCS for the first time since 2012.
The Yankees never threw in the towel. After being shut out in the first game by Trevor Bauer, the Yankee bats had seemed to fall silent. The Indians’ starting pitching looked as if they were to carry their dominance over from last postseason, stifling the Yanks batter after batter as they only collected a total of three hits.
Game two was arguably the best game of the entire postseason. Corey Kluber was chased in only the third inning, seeming to gain complete control. They had knocked out the predicted AL Cy-Young award-winner. They were smelling blood. New York was ahead by five runs in the sixth inning, Lonnie Chisenhall’s controversial hit-by-pitch loaded the bases for Francisco Lindor. Lindor unloaded the bases with one swing on an at-bat that, to put it frankly, should have never happened. The game was tied on a Jay Bruce solo home run in the eighth, and then Yan Gomes won it for the Tribe with an RBI single in the 13th inning, breaking the hearts of Yankee fans across the globe.
The Indians seemed to have hypothetically “stuck the fork” in the Yankees’ postseason aspirations. But then, the resilience of this ballclub kicked in, and boy did their luck change ever so quickly.
Masahiro Tanaka threw seven innings of three-hit shutout baseball, pitching the game of his life. Greg Bird’s moment came in the seventh inning, clubbing a 400-foot home run off of the brilliant Andrew Miller. That would serve as the only offense the Yankees needed. Aroldis Chapman picked up the save in 1.2 innings of solid shutout work, as the Yankees kept their postseason alive with an outstanding all-around team victory by a score of 1-0. No panic for the Indians’ fans just yet…
Then, the turning point of the series occurred in the second inning game four. New York put up four runs on the man who had dominated them in game one: Trevor Bauer. Aaron Judge came through with a two-out two-run double that drove the crowd into a frenzy. Luis Severino pitched a gem, going seven complete innings while racking up nine strikeouts. The Yankees finished the game with seven runs, as the Indians could only muster three runs on four hits. At the conclusion of this game, panic surely set in for Cleveland fans.
Game five surely more factors in favor of the Tribe: Ace Corey Kluber toeing the rubber at home with Edwin Encarnacion returning to the lineup. On the Yankees side, 37-year-old left-hander CC Sabathia would take the ball, quietly carrying a load of confidence into the game from the last time he took the mound. They would surely claim victory in the decisive game of the series. And why wouldn’t they? They did break the American League record for most consecutive wins, after all, achieving victory in 22 consecutive games. They were arguably the best and hottest team in baseball.
The Yankees jumped ahead in the first inning on a solo home run by Didi Gregorius. Then, in the third, “Sir Didi” struck again against Kluber, cracking a two-run shot over the right-field wall. CC Sabathia turned back the hands of Father Time, striking out nine while only allowing two runs in four innings of work. In the top of the ninth, a twelve-pitch at-bat capped off by an RBI single by Brett Gardner with another run crossing the plate after an uncharacteristic error by the Indians’ defense sealed the deal. Aroldis Chapman slammed the door out of the bullpen with a two-inning save as the Yankees win three consecutive games to cap-off the unfathomable comeback on the leagues’ most feared team entering October.
I have been saying it for months: Didi Gregorious is one of the most underrated players in baseball today. This will serve as his moment in the spotlight, as he will receive national recognition for his performance on Wednesday night. They took down Cleveland with minimal production from Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez, who combined for only five hits, two home runs, five RBI’s, and 26 strikeouts. It was truly impressive to watch the supporting cast of the Yankees get the job done.
If Judge and Sanchez can regain their swagger at the plate and their pitching staff continues to be dominant, the Astros will surely have their hands full.
Embed from Getty Images
James “Jeep” DiCioccio