The Runner Sports

Yankees Pull Off The Upset, Beat Cleveland In Game 5 To Move On To ALCS

After trailing in the series 0-2, the New York Yankees climbed back into the ALDS with two home wins and then beat the Cleveland Indians in Game 5. Becoming the first franchise in history to come back two separate times from an 0-2 hole in the Division Series, the “year too early” Yankees advanced to the ALCS. Game 5 was the type of game suited for a winner take all scenario. It remained in one swing range the entire night for the Indians, leaving Yankee fans to hold their breath every time a runner reached base. Once again, the likely result of how the game was going to go did not happen again. Like the series, Game 5 surprised and delivered great moments and a great primetime experience for those who watched.

Kluber’s Postseason Struggles

After dominating last year’s postseason, Corey Kluber simply did not look like himself. Between his two starts in the ALDS, Kluber pitched 6.1 innings and allowed 9 runs. His Game 2 start was the worse of the two, where he surrendered 6 runs over 2.2 innings. Also, he gave up 5 hits to six of the right-handed hitters he faced that outing. Wednesday night, Kluber did not look the potential Cy Young winner.

An argument can be made that if Didi Gregorius is not the lineup, then Kluber might have been dominant all night. It is true that Gregorius was the single run production for the Bronx Bombers until the ninth. However, Kluber did not look sharp from the beginning. He was missing spots, his slider was hanging, and he was not effective against lefties. If this were the regular season, I am sure that Kluber probably could have gutted out a 6-7 inning outing without surrendering more runs. But in the postseason (especially Game 5), that is not an opportunity a struggling starter will get.

C.C. Proves His Worth

C.C. Sabathia has had such a great comeback season this year. During the regular season, he posted an ERA of 3.69. That is his lowest ERA since 2012. In the ALDS, Sabathia has been money. Speaking of money, the Yankees need to re-sign this man in the offseason (barring a ridiculous contract demand). Anyway, Sabathia pitched better than Kluber in both matchups that they had. In Game 5, it was no different.

Despite his line score not being too impressive (4.1 innings, 2 runs, 9 strikeouts), the performance he gave for New York was magnificent. He looked like an ace again. Sure, he got in trouble in the fifth which caused an early call to the bullpen. But, the damage came on singles rather than gap shots or home runs. Combined with great starts from Masahiro Tanaka and Luis Severino, the Yankees rotation looks in great form with C.C. at the helm.

New York Yankees 2017 Postseason Gear

Sir Didi Earns His Pinstripes

Any player who plays for the New York Yankees does not truly become a “Yankee” until they do one of two things: win a World Series or have a clutch postseason moment. In this series, Tanaka and Greg Bird earned their pinstripes in Game 3 with their heroics. In Game 5, Didi Gregorius earned his. After struggling for much of the ALDS, Gregorius broke out the scoring early. Smacking two home runs to right field off of Kluber, Gregorius put the Yankees out to a 3-run lead that they held on to for the night.

I do not think that it can be overstated how much pressure has been on Didi Gregorius since becoming a Yankee. He had to follow up one of the greatest Yankees ever in Derek Jeter. While Jeter’s last season was ultimately a disappointing one, the love and admiration for The Captain left every Yankee fan with rose-tinted glasses. Gregorius had big shoes to fill from the day he was traded over to the Bronx. Every season, Gregorius has improved and become a key component of the team. Will he ever be an AL MVP or superstar on the level of Jeter? Most likely not, but he will be the team leader and an offensive spark for the team. That is exactly what this Yankee team needs, and Didi fills that role to perfection.

That Ninth Inning

To be honest, when Aroldis Chapman came into the game for the six-out save, I was nervous. After retiring the side in the bottom of the eighth, the nerves relaxed as the Yankees came to bat. Over 30 minutes later, the Yankees had scored two more runs. Cleveland’s defense, which had the highest fielding percentage in all of the MLB, let them down again. Starting with the Aaron Hicks single that turned into a double because of Austin Jackson missing the ball. After a walk to Todd Frazier, Brett Gardner battled for 12 pitches to single in a run.  However, Jay Bruce rushed a throw into the infield and Francisco Lindor’s nonchalant attempt to field it on the hop resulted in Todd Frazier scoring.

First, Brett Gardner had the at-bat of the series. Facing off against Cody Allen, who had not allowed an earned run in postseason play in his career, he kept fouling off pitches until he got a mistake. That was huge, especially since the Yankees had invested so much time in the top of the ninth. If they had not scored, it would have been 30 minutes of keeping Chapman cold for nothing.

The Lindor misplay simply looked bad. The ball only trickled 20-30 feet away from him, but an alert Frazier took advantage of it. Every play in a deciding Game 5 matters, and the Cleveland shortstop had a lapse in mental toughness.

Chapman, Party of Six

As mentioned in the previous section, I was nervous for Chapman attempting a six-out save. It did not help matters when he was on the bench for more than 30 minutes and started the bottom of the ninth throwing in the mid-90s. He threw a ball 96 MPH, every television watching Yankee fan must have been going nuts. However, the closer kept his composure. Striking out Edwin Encarnacion and getting Carlos Santana to ground into a fielder’s choice, Austin Jackson represented Cleveland’s last hope.

In one of the most anti-climatic series ending strikeouts, Chapman got Jackson to strikeout looking to end the game. Why was it anti-climatic? Gary Sanchez dropped the pitch. By the way, Jackson should have run to first instead of arguing with the umpire. Especially after Sanchez went running out to celebrate, first base would have been his for the taking.

On to Houston

Beating the Cleveland Indians was a tall task. They were the World Series favorites heading in and they have a complete team. Hats off to that organization and all that they accomplished over the season. Now, it is time to focus on the red-hot Houston Astros. The Red Sox already suffered at the hands of the buzzsaw that is the Astros offense. The Yankees did not have a lot of success against the Astros in the regular season, only winning two of their seven matchups. However, that was the same situation with Cleveland. Brad Kyle, good luck to your ‘Stros.

Griffin Fuller
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Griffin Fuller

Former Division 1 pitcher at Stetson University with an immense passion for the game of baseball. Grew up playing baseball from the age of 3. Student of the game of baseball in every aspect.Located out of Debary, Florida.
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Griffin Fuller
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  • Brad Kyle

    Thanks for the shout-out, Griffin…and, right back atcha! Most ‘Stro fans were rooting for the Yankees to beat Cleveland, but not because we thought they’d be the “easier” opponent….quite the opposite. I was rooting for NY only so the city of Houston could get an extra home game i.e. home-field advantage (should it go 7, of course).

    Needless to say, any team that makes the ALCS deserves it, and the Yankees, indeed, roared back, and easily proved to be the better team over Kluber’s Klan.

    By the way, my sources tell me Altuve, Marisnick, Correa, and El Yuli all gathered at Bregman’s crib Wednesday night to watch the Yankees pull it out. Oh, to have dropped in on THAT confab!! I’m sure they, too, were pulling for NY, with one of the reasons being bragging rights for having to take on such perennial “eastern” powers, the Red Sox (and conquering them), and, now, the Yankees! Hey, no fear…they took on Sale and Kimbrel, and solved them both!!

    I’m calling the Astros in 6, with enough photos taken of Judge standing on 2B with Altuve to break 84 internets! Somebody, somewhere, please create an animated meme that has Judge grabbing Altuve, folding him up, and jamming him in his pocket!!!