Didi Gregorius Leads Yankees to Game 5 Win vs. Indians; Will Face Astros in ALCS

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistOctober 12, 2017

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 11:  Didi Gregorius #18 of the New York Yankees celebrates his two-run homerun as he runs the bases in the third inning against the Cleveland Indians in game five of the American League Divisional Series at Progressive Field on October 11, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The New York Yankees became the 10th team in Major League Baseball history to erase a 0-2 series deficit in a best-of-five format with a 5-2 win over the Cleveland Indians in Game 5 of the American League Division Series on Wednesday at Progressive Field in Cleveland. 

Shortstop Didi Gregorius—who had one hit in the series' first four gamesspearheaded the Bronx Bombers' victorious effort with a pair of home runs off Indians starter Corey Kluber, including a two-run crush job in the third inning. 

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Didi putting the team on his back! #ALDS https://t.co/l0xzrU80vL

The Indians had a glimmer of hope trailing 3-2 entering the ninth inning, but Brett Gardner capped off an epic 12-pitch at-bat against Cody Allen with a base hit to right field that scored two thanks to a throwing error by Jay Bruce.  

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

On the 12th pitch of the at-bat, Brett Gardner delivered! #ALDS https://t.co/sT7nBHu9QI

Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan broke down the Indians' recent futility in closeout games following yet another missed opportunity on home turf: 

Jeff Passan @JeffPassan

The Cleveland Indians have had a chance to clinch their last two playoff series a total of six times. They are now 0-6 in those games.

The Yankees, meanwhile, were happy to poke fun at Cleveland's shortcomings: 

On the mound, the Yankees received something of a truncated gem from CC Sabathia, who tied his season high and postseason career high with nine strikeouts. 

However, Sabathia seemingly ran out of gas in the fifth inning when he conceded four straight one-out singles, including a pair of RBI base knocks to Roberto Perez and Giovanny Urshela. 

Despite the hiccup, Sabathia became the first pitcher in MLB postseason history to register at least nine strikeouts in fewer than five innings, according to ESPN Stats & Info

Kluber also racked up Ks with six punchouts of his own, but a pair of costly mistakes with Gregorius at the plate gave New York just enough breathing room. 

MLB.com's Andrew Simon and MLB Network's Jon Morosi both noted how rare that kind of power surge was: 

Andrew Simon @AndrewSimonMLB

Didi Gregorius is the 7th shortstop to have a multi-HR postseason game. Carlos Correa was the last in Game 4 of the 2015 ALDS.

Jon Morosi @jonmorosi

Last @Yankees hitter with a multi-HR game when facing elimination in postseason: Jason Giambi, 2003 ALCS Game 7. @MLB

And while all Yankees not named Gregorius and Gardner mustered two hits combined, the relief combination of David Robertson (2.2 IP, two strikeouts) and Aroldis Chapman (2.0 IP, four strikeouts) overshadowed those struggles. 

Dating back to the start of September, Chapman has registered 30 strikeouts and zero earned runs over his last 15 appearances.  

That's the kind of efficiency the Yankees will need if they want to have a shot of upsetting the Houston Astros and punching a ticket to their first World Series since 2009. 

Safely through, the Yankees will now prepare for a quick turnaround as they get set to travel to Minute Maid Park for Game 1 of the ALCS on Friday night. 


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