Yan­kees com­plete come­back

Gre­go­rius hits two home runs off ace Klu­ber and New York ad­vances to face Hous­ton.

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS -

CLEVE­LAND — Didi Gre­go­rius, fol­low­ing in the Oc­to­ber foot­prints left by Derek Jeter, home­red twice off Corey Klu­ber as the New York Yan­kees beat the Cleve­land In­di­ans 5-2 in Game 5 on Wednesday night to com­plete their come­back from a 2-0 deficit in the di­vi­sion se­ries and de­throne the AL champions.

The Yan­kees staved off elim­i­na­tion for the fourth time in this post­sea­son and ad­vanced to play the Hous­ton Astros in the AL Cham­pi­onship Se­ries start­ing Fri­day at Minute Maid Park.

“It’s just our time,” starter CC Sa­bathia said.

After win­ning twice in New York, man­ager Joe Gi­rardi and the Yan­kees came into Pro­gres­sive Field and fin­ished off the In­di­ans, who won 102 games dur­ing the reg­u­lar sea­son, ripped off a his­toric 22-game win­ning streak and were fa­vored to get back to the World Se­ries after los­ing in seven games a year ago to the Chicago Cubs.

Cleve­land’s Se­ries drought turns 70 next year — base­ball’s long­est dry spell.

The In­di­ans closed to 3-2 in the fifth against Sa­bathia be­fore David Robert­son pitched 22⁄3 hit­less in­nings for the win. Yan­kees closer Aroldis Chap­man, who faced Cleve­land in last year’s spine-tin­gling World Se­ries and signed an $86-mil­lion free agent con­tract in De­cem­ber, worked two in­nings for the save.

Chap­man went to the mound with a three-run lead in the ninth after Brett Gard­ner bat­tled Cody Allen for 12 pitches be­fore hit­ting an RBI sin­gle, with New York’s fifth run scor­ing when Todd Fra­zier raced home on right fielder Jay Bruce’s throw­ing er­ror.

Gard­ner’s gritty at-bat was sym­bolic of these Yan­kees. They wouldn’t give in.

“We can win a lot of dif­fer­ent ways,” Gard­ner said.

When Austin Jackson was called out on strikes to end it, the Yan­kees rushed to the mound to cel­e­brate with a wide-eyed Chap­man. Gi­rardi broke into a huge smile and hugged his coaches.

These baby Bronx Bombers be­came the 10th team to over­come a 2-0 deficit to win a best-of-five play­off se­ries. New York also did it in 2001, ral­ly­ing to beat Oak­land — a se­ries re­mem­bered for Jeter’s back­hand flip to home plate.

Gre­go­rius, who took over at short­stop fol­low­ing Jeter’s re­tire­ment after the 2014 sea­son, hit a solo homer in the first off Klu­ber and added a two-run shot in the third off Cleve­land’s ace, who didn’t look like him­self dur­ing ei­ther start in this se­ries.

One win shy of a Se­ries ti­tle last year, the In­di­ans had only one goal in mind in 2017.

They came up short again and have now lost six con­sec­u­tive games with a chance to clinch a post­sea­son se­ries dat­ing to last year’s World Se­ries, when they squan­dered a 3-1 lead to the Cubs.

Cleve­land is the first team in his­tory to blow a two-game se­ries lead in con­sec­u­tive post­sea­sons.

Ev­ery­thing was set up for the In­di­ans: Klu­ber on the mound, Game 5 at home, sen­sa­tional setup man An­drew Miller rested.

The Yan­kees, though, wouldn’t be de­nied, even with Aaron Judge going one for 20 in the se­ries.

“This team has never stopped fight­ing and never stopped be­liev­ing,” Gi­rardi said be­fore Game 5. “That’s the mark of a very good team. They know how to per­se­vere and con­tinue to grind out ev­ery­thing, whether it’s an at-bat or it’s on the other side, you’re fac­ing a bat­ter, how you grind it out.”

David Der­mer As­so­ci­ated Press

TODD FRA­ZIER cel­e­brates after scor­ing on an er­ror by Jay Bruce in the ninth in­ning for the Yan­kees’ fi­nal run.

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