Yan­kees come all the way back in ALDS, will play Astros for pen­nant

Cecil Whig - - NATIONAL SPORTS -

(TNS) — Didi Gre­go­rius had pro­vided the thun­der, home­r­ing twice and send­ing Corey Klu­ber to­ward an­other early exit in an in­tense Di­vi­sion Se­ries.

Van­quish­ing the In­di­ans ace played into the Yan­kees’ per­fect sce­nario for a de­cid­ing Game 5. And CC Sa­bathia’s sen­sa­tional start in­creased the win­ning vibe in­side the vis­it­ing dugout at Pro­gres­sive Field.

Yet, it came down to a raw bat­tle of the bullpens on a cool, windy Wed­nes­day night – a fight the Yan­kees sur­vived.

David Robert­son recorded eight es­sen­tial outs and Aroldis Chap­man’s six-out save gave the Yan­kees a 5-2 win, com­plet­ing a dra­matic come­back from down 0-2 in the se­ries.

On Fri­day night at Hous­ton, the Yan­kees and Astros will be­gin a best-of-seven Cham­pi­onship Se­ries, with the AL pen­nant on the line.

Brett Gard­ner’s classic, 12-pitch at-bat against hard-throw­ing closer Cody Allen – foul­ing off sev­eral high fast­balls – re­sulted in a key, RBI sin­gle in the eighth that plated an ex­tra run due to an­other Cleve­land er­ror.

As Jay Bruce’s throw from right field got loose on the in­field, Todd Fra­zier hus­tled all the way home.

And the er­ror that Gi­rardi made here in Game 2 – not chal­leng­ing a sixth-in­ning play, which led to blow­ing a five-run lead – is but a post­script.

Af­ter a tremen­dous reg­u­lar sea­son that should net Klu­ber an AL Cy Young award, the right-han­der will also be re­mem­bered for two short Oc­to­ber stints – on full rest – for a club that was fa­vored to re­turn to the World Se­ries.

One strike away from a 1-2-3 first in­ning, Klu­ber watched Gre­go­rius pull a 94-mph 1-and-2 fast­ball over the right-field wall for a 1-0 lead, tem­po­rar­ily un­plug­ging an elec- tric, stand­ing crowd of 37,802.

Klu­ber stranded two baserun­ners in the sec­ond, but Brett Gard­ner sin­gled to start the third.

And af­ter Aaron Judge (0 for 5, 4 strike­outs) struck out, Gre­go­rius sent an 0-and-1 curve­ball into the right field seats for a 3-0 lead – once more elec­tri­fy­ing the Yan- kees dugout.

Judge went 1 for 19 in the ALDS with 16 strike­outs, es­tab­lish­ing a new post­sea­son sin­gle se­ries record.

In the fifth, Austin Jack­son, Jay Bruce, Roberto Perez (RBI) and Gio­vanny Ur­shela (RBI) de­liv­ered con­sec­u­tive one-out sin­gles, end­ing Sa­bathia’s night.

But Robert­son im­me­di­ately got Fran­cisco Lin­dor to hit into an in­ning-end­ing dou­ble play turned by Gre­go­rius, pre­serv­ing the Yanks’ 3-2 lead.

And af­ter go­ing just 22/3 in­nings in Game 2, Klu­ber lasted 32/3 in­nings in Game 5.

All told, Klu­ber was charged with nine runs over 61/3 in­nings in his two Di­vi­sion Se­ries starts. The Yan­kees hit four homers against him, af­ter be­ing twice dom­i­nated by Klu­ber in Au­gust – when the In­di­ans started on an his­toric 22-game win­ning streak.

Terry Fran­cona’s team had won 35 of 39 games be­fore the Yan­kees stopped them in Game 3, a 1-0 win.

And af­ter get­ting strong starts from Masahiro Tanaka and Luis Sev­erino, it was Sa­bathia’s turn.

Trust­ing an elim­i­na­tion game to the 37-year-old Sa­bathia, who made the tran­si­tion from power pitcher to fi­nesse, was never a ques­tion for man­ager Joe Gi­rardi.

“He’s been through it so many times ... I think it’s in his DNA. He em­braces it,” Gi­rardi said be­fore the game. “He em­braced it wher­ever he’s been. You think about how he took the ball so of­ten in Mil­wau­kee (in 2008, pitch­ing the Brew­ers to their first post­sea­son in 25 years) and what he’s meant to our play­off runs here. He’s the guy for us.”

Sa­bathia breezed through Cleve­land’s or­der the first time through, re­tir­ing nine straight, with two strike­outs each in­ning.

And when Perez tried to bunt for a hit – a prac­tice Sa­bathia is on record as de­spis­ing – the lefty made a slid­ing catch of the popped up bunt, smil­ing as he took out a large divot between the mound and home plate.

Af­ter Lin­dor’s lead­off sin­gle in the fourth, Sa­bathia racked up two more strike­outs – ben­e­fit­ting from what ap­peared to be a gen­er­ous high strike zone by plate um­pire Jeff Nel­son, which drew the ire of the In­di­ans and their fans.

Sa­bathia took that 3-0 lead into the fifth, strik­ing out lead­off hitter Car­los San­tana be­fore yield­ing those four straight hits and ex­it­ing with run­ners at first and sec­ond.

TNS PHOTO

New York Yan­kees’ pitcher Aroldis Chap­man, mid­dle, cel­e­brates the fi­nal out, a strike out of the In­di­ans’ Austin Jack­son, with third base­man Todd Fra­zier, left, and Gary Sanchez, right, that con­cluded a 5-2 win against the In­di­ans in Game 5 of the Amer­i­can League Di­vi­sion Se­ries, We­nes­day at Pro­gres­sive Field in Cleve­land.

TNS PHOTO

Ricky Sten­house Jr. cel­e­brates af­ter win­ning the NAS­CAR Coke Zero 400 at Day­tona In­ter­na­tional Speed­way in Day­tona Beach, Fla., on July 1.

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