Improbable 2-0 series comeback fueled by Didi’s pair of bombs and shutdown pitching send Yankees to ALCS

The Yankees limped their way back to New York after a gut-wrenching game two loss, facing a seemingly insurmountable 2-0 hole to the probably the best and hottest team in baseball. It was almost a foregone conclusion that the season was over for the Bombers, but after two great wins at home, the Yanks headed back to Cleveland to face AL Cy Young favorite Corey Kluber and the Indians again. The Yankees were able to shut down the Indians to just two runs, while Didi Gregorius and Brett Gardner were able to provide five runs to send New York back to the ALCS for the first time since 2012.

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The Bombers started off with a bang with a Didi solo shot over the right-field wall, shocking Kluber, and the Cleveland fans early on. CC Sabathia started just as sharp, retiring the side with two strikeouts. After an Aaron Hicks two-out walk and a record-breaking Jacoby Ellsbury catcher interference, the Yanks threatened to add on more runs, but a Todd Frazier flyout would end the threat.

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The veteran Sabathia came out and tacked on two more strikeouts for another 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the second, preserving the lead. The one run lead would not last for too much longer, as after a leadoff single by Brett Gardner, Didi would send another bomb over the right field wall to extend the lead to three. 

The Yankees were firing on all cylinders early on, and CC continued his great start with his third straight three up-three down inning in the third, raking up his fifth and sixth strikeouts of the game. Indians ace Kluber did not experience the same success, after a two-out walk to Ellsbury, Terry Francona brought in former Yankee Andrew Miller to relieve Kluber. Miller struck out Frazier to end the inning.

The Yankee lefty finally surrendered a hit a Francisco Lindor in the fourth but tacked on two more strikeouts and a groundout to end the inning. Miller continued his great outing, retiring three of the four batters he faced, only allowing a Gregorius single.

CC’s luck seemed to run out in the fifth, after his ninth strikeout on the day, Sabathia surrendered four straight singles to score two runs, cutting the Yankee lead to one. That was enough for Joe Girardi, as he called out for David Robertson to end the threat. In classic Houdini fashion, Robertson forced a tremendous 6-3 double play by Gregorius to end the inning.

Robertson and the Cleveland bullpen traded clean innings all the way until the eighth when Girardi boldly brought out Aroldis Chapman for the six out save again. The Yankee closer made quick work of the nine, one, and two hitters in the Cleveland lineup, striking out two in the process. The top of the ninth would be a dramatic one for the Bronx faithful.

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Starlin Castro started the inning with a strikeout, and Hicks would reach second on an error by left fielder Austin Jackson. With a runner in scoring position and one out, DH Chase Headley popped out for the second out of the inning. Todd Frazier worked a walk in a nine-pitch at-bat, bringing up Brett Gardner. The grizzled veteran had the battle of the ages with Indians closer Cody Allen on a 12 pitch at bat. On that 12th pitch, Gardy pulled a 94 MPH fastball just past the outstretched glove of second baseman Jose Ramirez scoring Hicks easily, but a terrible hop caused Lindor to let the throw from right field by, allowing Frazier to slide in for the second score. Aaron Judge grounded out to end the inning, Yankees leading 5-2.

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After waiting well over 30 minutes, Chapman came out to punch the team's ticket to the ALCS. The lefty struggled with command against Ramirez, walking the second baseman on six pitches. Chapman refocused himself after that, retiring the next two Cleveland batters, bringing up Austin Jackson to the plate. The Cuban Missile forced a 1-2 count, and fired 101 MPH fastball up in the zone for the strikeout. The game was over, completing a seemingly impossible 2-0 series comeback for the Yanks.
 
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This ALDS was a series for the ages, and now the Yankees faceoff against the Houston Astros in the ALCS, hoping to advance to the World Series for the first time since 2009. This win possibly saved Joe Girardi’s job, and he was evidently emotional after Chapman's last strike and in his post game interview. Another champagne party greeted the Bombers in the locker room, but now the teams focus shifts to Friday's game in Houston.

Winning Pitcher: David Robertson (1-0 1.93 ERA): 2.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K
Losing Pitcher: Corey Kluber (0-1 12.79 ERA): 3.2 IP 3 H,  3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 2 HR
Save: Aroldis Chapman (2)

Notables:
Didi Gregorius: 3-4 2 R, 2 HR (1, 2) 3 RBI
Brett Gardner: 3-5, R, RBI
CC Sabathia: 4.1 IP 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 9 K
Aroldis Chapman: 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K, SV

Article By: Maxx Hotton

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