Yanks com­plete come­back, beat In­di­ans in Game 5 of ALDS

The Garden Island - - Morn­ing Briefing - Tom Withers

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.

These bend-but-don’tbreak 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.

The AL West cham­pion Astros, led by 5-foot-6 sec­ond-base dy­namo and MVP can­di­date Jose Al­tuve, went 5-2 against the wild-card win­ners this season.

Af­ter win­ning twice in New York, the Yan­kees — with lit­tle of­fen­sive help from rookie star Aaron Judge — came into Pro­gres­sive Field and fin­ished off the In­di­ans, who won 102 games dur­ing the reg­u­lar season, ripped off a his­toric 22-game 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 starter CC Sa­bathia be­fore David Robert­son pitched 2 2/3 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.

When Austin Jack­son was called out on strikes to end it, the Yan­kees rushed to the mound to cel­e­brate with a wide-eyed Chap­man.

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 Chicago Cubs.

Cleve­land is the first team in his­tory to blow a twogame 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. They bat­tled back from a 3-0 deficit in the first in­ning of their wild-card game against Min­nesota and then had to over­come a crush­ing loss in Game 2, when man­ager Joe Gi­rardi’s de­ci­sion not to chal­lenge a hit bat­ter, drew heavy crit­i­cism and pos­si­bly cost New York dur­ing in a 9-8 loss in 13 in­nings.

But these young Yan­kees, who are ahead of sched­ule to be con­tenders, dis­played pin­striped pride.

“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

New York Yan­kees’ Didi Gre­go­rius points to the dugout af­ter hit­ting a two-run home run dur­ing the third in­ning of Game 5 of a baseball Amer­i­can League Divi­sion Se­ries on Wed­nes­day in Cleve­land.

NAM Y. HUH / ASSOCIATED PRESS

Wash­ing­ton Na­tion­als start­ing pitcher Stephen Stras­burg throws dur­ing the first in­ning of Game 4 of baseball’s Na­tional League Divi­sion Se­ries against the Chicago Cubs on Wed­nes­day in Chicago.

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