Gre­go­rius homers twice as Yan­kees end Tribe’s sea­son much ear­lier than ex­pected

The News Herald (Willoughby, OH) - - Front Page - By Tom With­ers

The In­di­ans watch dur­ing the ninth in­ning against the New York Yan­kees in Game 5 of the Amer­i­can League Division Se­ries, Oct. 11, at Cleve­land’s Pro­gres­sive Field. The Yan­kees won 5-2 and ad­vance to the ALCS against the Hous­ton Astros. The loss ends a sea­son that saw the Tribe win 102 games, in­clud­ing a record-set­ting 22-game win­ning game streak. More in Sports, be­gin­ning on

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 Oct. 11 at Pro­gres­sive Field to com­plete their come­back from a 2-0 deficit in the Division Se­ries and de­throne the AL cham­pi­ons.

These bend-but-don’t-break Yan­kees staved off elim­i­na­tion for the fourth time in this post­sea­son and ad­vanced to play the Hous­ton Astros in the AL Cham­pi­onship Se­ries start­ing Oct. 13 at Minute Maid Park.

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

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

After win­ning twice in New York, man­ager Joe Gi­rardi and 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 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’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 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.

“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. 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 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.”

The Yan­kees did it with­out much help from Judge,

who struck out four times in Game 5, and went 1 for 20 (.050) in the se­ries with 16 strike­outs.

But the 6-foot-7 rookie might have saved New York’s sea­son in Game 3, when he reached above the right-field wall to rob Fran­cisco Lin­dor of a two-run homer in a 1-0 win.

Klu­ber was one of base­ball’s most con­sis­tent pitch­ers all sea­son, win­ning 18 games and lead­ing the AL with a 2.25 ERA. He’s a fa­vorite to win his sec­ond Cy Young Award.

How­ever, Oc­to­ber has been cruel to the righthander. He al­lowed nine runs, in­clud­ing four homers, over 6 1/3 in­nings in two post­sea­son starts, hardly what he or the In­di­ans ex­pected.

Gre­go­rius came in bat­ting just .077 (1 for 13) in the se­ries and only .133 (2 of 15) in his ca­reer against Klu­ber be­fore tag­ging the righthander for two homers in the first three in­nings.

The 27-year-old with the easy smile and sweet swing gave the Yan­kees a 3-0 lead in the third, pulling an 0-1 pitch into the lower deck in right. Gre­go­rius set a fran­chise record for home runs in a sea­son by a short­stop with 25, one more than Jeter hit in 1999 when No. 2 led the Yan­kees to a sec­ond straight World Se­ries ti­tle.

Just as in Game 2, Klu­ber didn’t get out of the first un­scathed.

Gre­go­rius got New York off to an ideal start, home­r­ing with two outs in the first when Klu­ber grooved a fast­ball. The shot deep into the seats in right raised the anx­i­ety level to an al­ready jit­tery Cleve­land crowd fear­ing the worst.

A few hours later, those fears were re­al­ized.



Ed­win En­car­na­cion re­acts after strik­ing out against CC Sa­bathia dur­ing the fourth in­ning of Game 5 of the ALDS on Oct. 11 at Pro­gres­sive Field.


Roberto Perez is late on the tag as the Yan­kees’ Todd Fra­zier scores dur­ing the ninth in­ning on Oct. 11 at Pro­gres­sive Field.


In­di­ans re­lief pitcher Bryan Shaw ad­justs his cap in the eighth in­ning of Game 5 against the Yan­kees on Oct. 11.

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