Gregorius goes deep twice — N.Y. heads to Houston
CLEVELAND — Didi Gregorius, following in the October footprints left by Derek Jeter, homered twice off Corey Kluber as the Yankees beat the Indians 5-2 in Game 5 on Wednesday night to complete a comeback from a 2-0 deficit in the Division Series and dethrone the AL champions.
The Yankees won their fourth elimination game this postseason and advanced to play the Astros in the AL Championship Series starting Friday night in Houston. The Yankees went 2-5 against the AL West champion Astros, who are led by 5-foot-6 MVP candidate Jose Altuve.
On Wednesday, the Yankees rocked Cleveland and bailed out manager Joe Girardi, who failed to challenge a key call in a Game 2 loss that threatened to sabotage New York’s season.
“These guys had my back and they fought and fought,” Girardi said. “They beat a really good team. What those guys did for me, I’ll never forget it.”
After winning twice at home, and after Girardi said he “screwed up” and felt horrible about it, the Yankees came into Progressive Field and finished off the Indians, who won 102 games during the regular season, ripped off a historic 22game 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 hasn’t won a World Series since 1948 — baseball’s longest dry spell.
“Nobody wanted the season to be over,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. “It doesn’t wind down, it comes to a crashing halt. It’s disappointing. We felt good about ourselves. We made it harder to win, especially in the last two games.”
The Indians cut their deficit to 3-2 in the fifth against starter CC Sabathia before David Robertson pitched 22⁄3 hitless innings for the win. Closer Aroldis Chapman worked two innings for the save.
Chapman went to the mound with a three-run lead in the ninth after Brett Gardner beat Cody Allen in a 12-pitch at-bat. Gardner delivered an RBI single, with New York’s fifth run scoring when Todd Frazier raced home on right fielder Jay Bruce’s throwing error.
When Austin Jackson was called out on strikes to end it, the Yankees rushed to the mound to celebrate with Chapman. Girardi hugged his coaches.
The Yankees 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 the A’s— a series remembered for Jeter’s backhand flip to home plate in Game 3.
Gregorius, who took the shortstop job 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 the Cleveland right-hander, a favorite for the Cy Young Award.
Aroldis Chapman (facing) and the Yankees exult after eliminating Cleveland from the postseason. Chapman pitched two hitless innings to pick up his second save in the ALDS.