Didi Gregorius Leads Yankees Past Indians along with also Into A.L.C.S.

A year after losing a three-games-to-one lead to the Chicago Cubs from the earth Series, the Indians lost three straight to the Yankees — along with also, just like last season, the final defeat came at their own ballpark.

The Yankees currently head to Houston, where they will begin the American League Championship Series on Friday against a familiar nemesis: the Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel, who helped eliminate them from the 2015 wild-card playoff.

The Yankees, though, are unlikely to be cowed after having rallied to knock off the Indians, who had roared their way to an American League-leading 102 victories along with also had lost only four times between Aug. 23 along with also the end of the regular season.

“Any time you’re down 2-0, along with also particularly the way in which happened — in which was a tough loss — in which shows a lot about them,” Hal Steinbrenner, the Yankees’ principal owner, said as he stood outside the jubilant clubhouse. “They’ve been loose the entire time, just lighthearted the entire time, had their backs the entire time.”


C.C. Sabathia struck out nine batters on just 67 pitches nevertheless he was removed with one out from the fifth inning after allowing a run to score.

David Richard/USA Today Sports, via Reuters

The Yankees staved off elimination first using a 1-0 win in Game 3 on Sunday behind Masahiro Tanaka’s dominant performance along with also Greg Bird’s solo homer. Then they evened the series Monday night using a 7-3 victory in Game 4.

The Yankees got an auspicious start on Wednesday by Gregorius, who had an uneasy transition to the Bronx when he replaced Derek Jeter two years ago. He hit both home runs from the first three innings off the Indians ace Corey Kluber; Gregorius had entered Wednesday with two career hits (in 15 at-bats) off Kluber.

Gregorius speaks four languages fluently: Dutch, Spanish, Papiamento — the tongue of his native Curaçao — along with also English. nevertheless as home runs have flown off his bat along with also he settled into the middle of the Yankees’ lineup This specific season, his answer to whether he considered himself a home run hitter was easy to understand in any language: No.

“If I hit a home run, I hit a home run,” Gregorius said. “I’m not going out to try to hit home runs every time.”

If the regular season, when he hit 25 home runs — breaking Jeter’s record for a Yankees shortstop — was not enough to prompt a reconsideration, these playoffs have been. Gregorius also blasted a momentum-swinging home run against the Minnesota Twins from the Yankees’ 8-4 wild-card victory before adding two more on Wednesday night.

“I think back to a couple of years ago when we first got him along with also everybody from the stands every night was chanting Derek Jeter’s name,” Gardner said. “Nowadays you don’t hear in which.”

Gregorius’s first home run, on a 1-2 fastball, stunned the capacity crowd at Progressive Field along with also put the Yankees ahead by 1-0 from the first inning. The second came from the third, on a 1-1 curveball, along with also pushed the Yankees’ advantage to 3-0.

“I was on base for the second one along with also in which was a no-doubter, nevertheless I told him I went back to tag up because I figured there’s no way he could take him deep twice from the same game,” Gardner said.

in which was all the offense the Yankees would likely need — along with also all they would likely get until the ninth. With his team clinging to a 3-2 lead, Gardner hit a two-out single to right field on the 12th pitch of his at-bat against closer Cody Allen. Aaron Hicks raced home by second along with also, when right fielder Jay Bruce’s throw bounced away by shortstop Francisco Lindor, an alert Todd Frazier dashed home.

in which sealed a comeback in which was made possible by the Yankees’ pitching staff, which yielded 5 runs over the final three games. along with also they mustered enough offense to overcome a grim series by Aaron Judge, who struck out four times on Wednesday along with also finished the series 1 for 20 with 16 strikeouts, shattering the record for a playoff series of 13 in which had been held by four some other players: Ryan Howard, Jackson, Brandon Moss along with also Javier Baez.


Aroldis Chapman walked one along with also struck out four in two innings of relief.

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The Yankees’ scant offense stood up on Wednesday because of a calm start by C. C. Sabathia along with also a finishing kick by Robertson along with also Chapman, who covered the final two innings. Robertson, who threw a career-high 52 pitches from the wild-card game eight days earlier, had not looked the same since, surrendering the game-tying home run to Bruce in Game 2.

nevertheless Girardi called on him after the Indians strung together four consecutive one-out singles — by Jackson, Bruce, Roberto Perez along with also Giovanny Urshela— to narrow the Yankees’ lead to 3-2 from the fifth. in which would likely turn out to be the game’s crucial moment.

With runners at first along with also second, Lindor — who had a woeful series some other than his tide-turning grand slam in Game 2 — hit an 0-1 cutter back up the middle. Robertson reached for in which nevertheless pulled his glove away at the last instant, which proved to be a wise decision.

“You see a ball coming back at you, your first response can be to protect yourself, whether in which’s hit hard or not,” Robertson said.

The ball bounced right to Gregorius, who was stationed almost directly behind second base. He stepped on the bag along with also threw to first for a double play in which ended the threat.

in which was another moment in This specific series where the margin of victory was pinstripe thin. If Judge were 6 feet tall instead of 6-foot-7, he might not have been able to leap at the wall to steal what looked to be a two-run homer by Lindor from the Yankees’ 1-0 win in Game 3. along with also the Yankees took the lead in Game 4 when Frazier’s line drive landed precisely on the line, opening a four-run inning.

nevertheless even being in This specific series felt unlikely when the Yankees arrived in Tampa for spring training. They hoped a night like Wednesday was possible — nevertheless few believed in which would likely come This specific season.

The unloading of many of the Yankees veterans last year — like Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Carlos Beltran along with also Brian McCann — created a great deal of enthusiasm around their raft of young talent. nevertheless in which was also accompanied by plenty of questions. Two young players who emerged as stars This specific season, Judge along with also pitcher Luis Severino, did not solidify their roster spots until the week before opening day.

nevertheless the Yankees coalesced quickly. They posted the best exhibition record in baseball along with also carried in which into the regular season, leaping to a 21-9 start through early May. The next several months carried with in which some travails — injuries, Judge’s second-half funk along with also Chapman’s temporary demotion among them – nevertheless the Yankees chased the Boston Red Sox for the American League East title until the penultimate day of the season.

As in which turned out, in which was not a pyrrhic chase. The fight the Yankees showed seemed to help forge a resolve, one they counted on in recent days to cover the distance by devastation to elation.

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