Cleveland almost came back to win it, but in the end one of the top teams in the regular season couldn’t pull out the win in an elimination game (yet again) and handed three games straight to the Yankees to bow out of the postseason.
With Corey Kluber facing CC Sabathia, it looked like it would be a true pitchers’ duel for the final game in the series.
Alas, Kluber only lasted 3 2⁄3 innings and let up three runs, forcing the Indians to turn to their bullpen for help early. All three runs came off Didi Gregorius’ bat, as he hit two home runs two innings apart to score all of the Yankees’ early runs.
The Yankees were luckier with their starter, as CC Sabathia worked 4 1⁄3 innings, letting up only five hits and two runs, and striking out nine. Most of that damage came for the end of his time on the mound; he looked as sharp and dominant as ever in the early innings.
Both of Cleveland’s runs came from two somewhat unsung heroes in this series, in Roberto Perez and Giovanny Urshela. They both singled off Sabathia to chase him from the game, bringing runs in each time.
Cleveland’s bullpen let up no runs until the top of the ninth, with Andrew Miller, Bryan Shaw, and Cody Allen collectively striking out 10 while walking one. Cody Allen battled half the Yankees’ lineup in the top of the ninth, letting two batters on and going toe-to-toe with Brett Gardner for an epic at-bat that ended after 12 pitches and a line drive by Gardner into right field.
That hit, combined with an error on the cutoff throw, sent two runs in and supplied New York with the insurance runs it needed.
Unfortunately for the Indians, none of New York’s relievers gave up runs at all. David Robertson looked electric, and while Aroldis Chapman came close to allowing a run after putting a man on second in the bottom of the ninth, he didn’t.
The Yankees completed their three-game comeback to advance to the ALCS, where they will face the Astros. If they can work the same elimination game magic there, their chances to advance might not be so bad.