In Cleveland on Wednesday night, the
New York Yankees
wire-to-wire and won by a score of 5-2 (box score) in Game 5 of the ALDS. That means the Yankees will advance to the ALCS to take on the
Now for some things to know about this do-or-die contest at Progressive Field …
The Yankees joined elite postseason company
The Yanks of course dropped Games 1 and 2 in Cleveland before ripping off a pair of wins back in the Bronx. The win in Game 5 makes them just the 10th team in MLB history to come back from down 0-2 to win a best-of-five postseason series. As well, they become just the fourth team to win Game 5 on the road to complete such a comeback.
Didi owned the night
looked pretty good versus Yankees not named
. Unfortunately for Cleveland, Sir Didi was in the lineup, with a bat and everything. Here’s Gregorius in the first …
And here he is next time up in the third …
During the past two seasons, Gregorius has shown plenty of pop by shortstop standards, and he has taken full advantage of the short right field porch at Yankee Stadium …
As for his Game 5 exploits, he joined elite clutch company …
The second of Gregorius’ home runs gave the Yankees a 78 percent chance of winning Game 5. Things would get tighter, but Gregoirus’ power display was the difference maker. On top of all that, Gregorius added a single and then turned a nifty 6-U-3 double play to end the fifth and preserve the lead.
had one of the best at-bats of the season
Gardner came to the plate in the road half of the ninth against
with two outs and two on and the Yankees clinging to a one-run lead. Then he did this …
Yep, that’s a 12-pitch at-bat that included six foul balls (five with the runners going). Then on that 12th pitch — a 94-mph fastball on the inner third — Gardner broke it open …
The Cleveland outfield defense didn’t help matters in that inning, but mostly it was about Gardner’s relentless at-bat.
did his job
The elder statesman of the Yankees rotation looked dominant early in Game 5, thanks in part to excellent command of his curve. Regard …
He ran into trouble in the fifth, as he yielded four consecutive singles, but he wound up allowing a respectable two runs in 4 1/3 innings. Given the rock-solid Yankees bullpen, that was enough.
Kluber was better but still not good
Kluber, of course, had a surprisingly bad outing in Game 2; the Yankees cuffed him around for six runs in 2 2/3 innings. In Game 5, he was better without being a dominant as he had been for much of the regular season …
Those runs are all the result of those two Gregorius home runs noted above. So, to repeat: Better than last time but still not good. Speaking of those recent struggles …
It’s really hard to win a best-of-5 series when your ace gives you a pair of starts like that.
The Tribe’s best hitters didn’t get it done
Cleveland’s best hitters during the regular season were
. This hard-hitting trio, however, got pretty well smothered by Yankees pitching in the ALDS. Combined, they went 4 for 45 in the ALDS. Yes, Encarnacion missed two games with an ankle injury and Lindor saw a home run robbed by
, but those numbers are bad in any context. That plus the Kluber struggles really did the Tribe in.
The Yankees bullpen was big in this series
This was a bullpen-heavy series for the Yankees; their relievers wound up working almost half of the team’s innings in the ALDS. In all,
combined to register an ERA of 2.70 in 20 innings. Considering that the Yankees relief corps was worked heavily in the AL Wild Card Game, those numbers look even more impressive.
Ellsbury is the king of the catcher’s interference
Although he wound up getting stranded, Yankees DH
reached via catcher’s interference in the second. That occasioned a bit of postseason history …
OK, so two is the record. As you can probably surmise, the catcher’s interference call doesn’t happen all that often. Ellsbury, though, has quite a knack for it, as he’s also the all-time regular season leader in the category. Last month, Ellsbury registered the 30th CI of his career, which broke a tie with Pete Rose for the all-time mark. While we’re at it, let’s also note that Ellsbury’s 12 CIs in 2016 is the single-season record.
Jacoby Ellsbury, elite mitt-toucher!
Judge had a rough series
Aaron Judge — he of the 52 home runs in the regular season — did not have an ALDS to remember. Coming into Game 5, Judge had a line of .067/.263/.133 against the Indians in this series. Then in Game 5 he went 0 for 5. There’s also this …
Yep, any postseason series, including best-of-7 postseason series. He would strike out two more times in Game 5 after that tweet was sent, so make the record 16. There’s also this …
We’re in a high-strikeout era, of course, and whiffs are part of the costs of doing business when you hit for power. Judge in this series, though, struck out early and often but had only one double to show for it. Of course, the Yankees won, so something tells me Judge will be able shake this off. Speaking of which …
Yeah, it’s all good.
Joe Girardi can remove his goat horns
Back in Game 2, Yankees manager Joe Girardi made a huge gaffe by not challenging a hit-by-pitch call in the sixth inning. With two out and runners on the corners and reliever Chad Green staked to an 8-3 lead,
fouled off six consecutive pitches before the plate ump ruled that the seventh pitch of the at-bat hit him on the hand. However, it appeared on replay that the pitch hit the knob of Chisenhall’s bat and then landed in
glove for what should’ve been a foul-tip strikeout that ended the inning. Instead, it led to a Francisco Lindor grand slam and the Yankees’ biggest blown lead in a playoff game since 2002.
Had the Indians been able to close out this series, we would be talking about Girardi’s tactical mistake for a long time. Now, it’s mostly going to go away. Sure, you can make the point that Girardi’s mistake extended a series that otherwise would’ve ended in four games and thus taxed the roster a bit more, but that kind of argument — fair or not — doesn’t tend to have staying power. As such, the Game 5 triumph was especially good for Girardi’s legacy.
The Indians’ title drought continues
They came achingly close to winning it all last year, and they looked like the best team in baseball heading into the 2017 postseason. Once again, however, their efforts have come to grief. Cleveland hasn’t won it all since way back yonder in 1948, and this elimination from the playoffs on Wednesday night means the title drought will reach 69 years. It’s particularly painful, since the Indians last year blew a 3-1 lead in the World Series and then blew a 2-0 lead in the 2017 ALDS.
The ALCS is set
As noted above, the Yankees will advance to the ALCS to face the Astros. Game 1 is set for Friday night in Houston.
will be going for the hosts. It’s the Yankees’ first trip to the ALCS since 2012, when they were swept by the
. The Yankees will be trying to win the pennant for the 41st time in franchise history.