The New York Yankees became the 10th team in Major League Baseball history to overturn a 2-0 deficit in the ALDS and win the series with a 5-2 victory over the Cleveland Indians in Game 5 on Wednesday night at Progressive Field.
The Yankees are off to face the Houston Astros in the ALCS which begins on Friday night in Houston.
Didi Gregorius launched a pair of home runs with three RBI to account for most of New York’s offense while the combination of CC Sabathia, David Robertson and Aroldis Chapman were enough to eliminate the American League’s best team during the regular season.
The night couldn’t have started better as the Yankees picked up right where they left off from Game 2 against Kluber. With two outs in the first, Gregorius launched his first of the night, a solo shot to quiet the rowdy Cleveland crowd.
Two innings later, he did it again on almost the same exact pitch in almost the same exact spot in the right-field stands. The only difference was that Brett Gardner was on base, giving the Yankees a 3-0 lead.
With the way Sabathia was pitching, it was understandable if some thought the game was over after Gregorius’ second homer. The 37-year-old had turned back the clock in his first 4.1 innings of work as he allowed just one hit while striking out a career postseason high of nine.
But after Sabathia struck out Carlos Santana for the first out of the fifth, he gave up four-straight singles, with the latter two knocks by Roberto Perez and Giovany Urshela driving in a run each to make it a 3-2 game.
It signaled the end of Sabathia’s night as Joe Girardi called upon David Robertson to face the dangerous Francisco Lindor with runners on the corner. On just his second pitch though, Robertson got out of the jam by getting Lindor to ground into an inning-ending double play, preserving the Yankees’ lead.
Robertson went 1.2 innings on the night, ensuring the Yankees got to the eighth inning with the lead. The only blemish on his evening was a two-out walk to Jay Bruce in the seventh.
The Yankees came up with an enormous pair of insurance runs in the top of the ninth to make Cleveland’s deficit an insurmountable one.
With runners on first and second and two outs, Gardner came out on top in a marathon 12-pitch at-bat that will go down in Yankees folklore against Indians closer Cody Allen with a single to right field, scoring Aaron Hicks. The throw from Bruce got away from Lindor, allowing Todd Frazier to score a second run and giving Chapman more than a large enough cushion to close things out.
New York managed to win despite Aaron Judge dubiously arriving in the record books on Wednesday night, becoming the first player to ever record three, four-strikeout games in a single postseason series while setting the MLB record for most punchouts in a single series.
Less than two days of rest await the Yankees as first pitch in Game 1 of the ALCS against Houston will come at 8:08 p.m. ET. The Astros have already announced that Dallas Keuchel will start the series.