Yankees eliminate Indians behind Gregorius' 2 HR-night
The New York Yankees eliminated the Cleveland Indians as they rallied from a 2-0 deficit in their best-of-five American League Division Series.
The 27-time World Series champs reeled off three straight wins to advance to the ALCS to face the Houston Astros.
The result was a complete heartbreaker for an Indians ball club that was expected by many to return to a second straight World Series after finishing with 102 wins in the regular season.
The pitching matchup between CC Sabathia and Corey Kluber was highly anticipated -- not only as a rematch of Game 2 -- but a duel between current and former Indians aces.
No one came in expecting Kluber to have another rough outing after only lasting 2.1 innings in Game 2, but that’s exactly what happened.
The Yankees got on the board right out the gate, as shortstop Didi Gregorius lifted a towering solo homer to right with two outs in the 1st.
In his second at bat, Gregorius went yard again, crushing a two-run bomb to put the Yankees up 3-0 in the 3rd. An inning later, Kluber’s night was done.
When his team needed him the most, the likely American League Cy Young award winner only lasted 3.2 innings, allowing 3 runs on 3 hits with 6 strikeouts.
On the other side of the pitching battle, the 37-year-old Sabathia was cooking early for the Yankees, staying perfect through the first three innings while striking out six Indians in the process.
The Indians finally got something going against CC in the top of the 5th, as a combination of four straight singles brought energy to the crowd at Progressive Field. The third hit plated a run as Roberto Perez slapped an opposite field single down the right field line scoring Austin Jackson. Sabathia was chased after Giovanny Urshela hit a timely ground ball to right field to score Jay Bruce to trim the lead to 3-2.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi gave Sabathia the hook, stopping the Indians threat by calling on trusted reliever David Robertson, who recorded seven-straight outs over his 2.2 innings of work.
Aroldis Chapman followed Robertson’s lead, entering in the 8th, striking out two of the first three batters he faced.
The Yankees then padded their lead with two more runs in the top of the 9th. A single from center fielder Aaron Hicks and a walk by third baseman Todd Frazier set up left fielder Brett Gardner to provide some cushion to the Yankees. Gardner fought tooth-and-nail to work a 12-pitch at bat that ultimately resulted in a single to right field that scored both runners after a fielding error by Francisco Lindor.
Then in the bottom of the 9th, 'The Cuban Missile,’ completed the six-out save for the Yankees, striking out four Indians batters to end Cleveland’s season.