Didi the new Mr. Oc­to­ber

New York Daily News - - SPORTS -

CLEVE­LAND – Back in New York on Wednesday night, the new owner of the Mi­ami Mar­lins was hold­ing the an­niver­sary gala for his Turn 2 Foun­da­tion. Nearly 500 miles to the west, Derek Jeter’s re­place­ment as start­ing short­stop and clutch Oc­to­ber per­former ex­traor­di­naire for the Yan­kees, Didi Gre­go­rius, Turned Two of­fer­ings from Cleve­land ace Corey Klu­ber into early mam­moth home runs to es­tab­lish the of­fen­sive foun­da­tion for the Yan­kees’ taut ALDS-clinch­ing 5-2 win over the stunned top-seeded In­di­ans.

Derek San­der­son Jeter of­fi­cially has passed the post­sea­son torch now to Mariek­son Julius Gre­go­rius, as well, a new do-it-all short­stop in pinstripes lead­ing the way to a se­ries vic­tory yet again.

“It means a lot, that’s one of the big­gest mo­ments so far of my ca­reer,” Gre­go­rius said dur­ing the post-game cel­e­bra­tion. “I just want to help the team and came up big right there.

“For me, it’s prob­a­bly the key hits for my ca­reer so far, and it’s re­ally awe­some.”

The abil­ity to achieve post­sea­son suc­cess, par­tic­u­larly in key mo­ments, was some­thing we needed to find out about Gre­go­rius, who eclipsed Jeter’s fran­chise record for home runs in a sea­son with 25.

He ob­vi­ously still is nowhere close to the vol­ume of post­sea­son vic­to­ries and gaudy jew­elry com­piled by his ex­alted pre­de­ces­sor, but this def­i­nitely is a start in the right di­rec­tion.

“We put Didi in the (cleanup) slot (late in the sea­son) be­cause we had some in­juries,” Joe Gi­rardi said of Gre­go­rius, who has bat­ted third the past two games. “He be­came an RBI ma­chine for us, drove in al­most 90 runs and missed a month of the sea­son. It’s pretty re­mark­able the sea­son he’d had for us.”

Born in Amsterdam and raised mostly in Cu­ra­cao, Gre­go­rius fa­mously and im­pres­sively speaks four lan­guages flu­ently. We will add the lan­guage of base­ball as the fifth for No. 18, who has han­dled the un­en­vi­able task of re­plac­ing the leg­endary Num­bah 2 and Mr. Novem­ber in the Bronx with class, fun and ex­cel­lence, par­tic­u­larly this sea­son on both sides of the ball.

By the way, in case you were won­der­ing, here is how you say Mr. Oc­to­ber in each of Gre­go­rius’s na­tive or learned tongues: In English, well, you al­ready know. In Span­ish, it is Senor Oc­tubre. In Dutch, it is Me­neer Ok­to­ber. In Papi­a­mento, it is sim­i­lar, Mener Ok­to­ber.

On the back page of Thursday’s Daily News, the head­line also blared: Sir Oc­to­ber.

And, of course, in John Ster­ling-ese, it is “Yes, InDidi!”

That was the high-far-and-gone ra­dio call you could hear above the stunned si­lence at Pro­gres­sive Field not once, but twice, after Gre­go­rius launched home runs into the right-field seats against Klu­ber in the first and third in­nings to ac­count for all of the Yan­kees’ quick 3-0 lead.

It also had been Gre­go­rius’ three-run blast in the bot­tom of the first last week against Min­nesota that erased the early 3-0 hole Luis Sev­erino dug the Yanks while only record­ing one out in the AL wild-card game.

Gre­go­rius truth­fully didn’t even notch that many hits against the Tribe, just three al­to­gether. But like Jeter al­ways showed us, it’s when you get them, not how many, that counts the most at this time of year.

Gre­go­rius had been just 1-for-15 since that bomb against the Twins un­til his first-in­ning clock­ing of Klu­ber on Wednesday. He went deep again with Brett Gard­ner on first for a 3-0 lead in the third.

“That was only what, my third hit of the post­sea­son?” Gre­go­rius said. “I al­ways want to try to do some­thing for the team. But it was good to get those two right there, to put us up, it was re­ally im­por­tant for me and the team. Felt amaz­ing to get ev­ery­body going.”

Brian Cash­man has made count­less sig­nif­i­cant moves through 20 sea­sons in the GM chair, but ac­quir­ing Gre­go­rius from Ari­zona upon Jeter’s re­tire­ment in a three-team trade in De­cem­ber 2014 — send­ing pitcher Shane Greene to Detroit — looks like one of the all-time steals in fran­chise his­tory. s much as the Yan­kees’ re­birth has been built around Aaron Judge, who en­dured an aw­ful se­ries with 16 strike­outs in a 1-for-20 show­ing, Gary Sanchez, Luis Sev­erino and a few other prospects on the way, Gre­go­rius, still just 27 him­self, has emerged among the un­ques­tioned lead­ers in a di­verse club­house that never wa­vered when the Yanks were counted after drop­ping the first two games of the se­ries here – in­clud­ing the sec­ond in hideous fash­ion.

“We al­ways knew. We are a team all sea­son that never gave up,” Gre­go­rius said, sound­ing like his pre­de­ces­sor. “We were down 0-2, and this just shows how hard we play the game, al­ways.

“No­body ex­pected us to do any­thing, but we knew we had a good team and we could do this… It’s been amaz­ing, even down 0-2, that’s this team.”

ACLEVELAND — The Yan­kees over­came a bru­tal se­ries from Aaron Judge at the plate to ad­vance to the ALCS. Judge went 1-for20 with 16 strike­outs – an MLB record for Ks in a sin­gle play­off se­ries. He also be­came the first player to have three post­sea­son games with four strike­outs.

The 25-year-old rookie did make a game-sav­ing catch in Game 3 and de­liv­ered a key two-run dou­ble in Game 4.

“Oh yeah,” Judge said when asked if he’d be able to turn the page going into fac­ing the Astros. “When­ever you get a chance to play in the ALCS, it’s a new day. That’s the beauty of base­ball. Just re­group, get ready for Hous­ton, and keep play­ing our game.”

Judge was ex­tremely ex­cited about be­ing four wins away from the World Se­ries.

“It’s a dream come true,” he

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