Didi the new Mr. October
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