Yankees Use 9th-Inning Rally to Beat Indians, Advance to ALDS

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorOctober 1, 2020

New York Yankees' Gio Urshela celebrates while running the bases after hitting a grand slam off Cleveland Indians relief pitcher James Karinchak in the fourth inning of Game 2 of an American League wild-card baseball series Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/David Dermer)
David Dermer/Associated Press

A chaotic and eventful night that included two rain delays, four blown leads, 19 walks, 12 pitchers, a ninth-inning rally and a pair of fan arrests in the outfield bleachers culminated in the New York Yankees beating the Cleveland Indians 10-9 in Game 2 of the American League Wild Card Series on Wednesday in Progressive Field.

The Yankees have advanced to the American League Division Series against the Tampa Bay Rays after sweeping Cleveland two games to zero following a Game 2 that ended at 1:14 a.m. ET.

New York trailed 9-8 entering the ninth inning, but a walk and a pair of singles loaded the bases with no out. After Brett Gardner struck out, Gary Sanchez hit a game-tying sacrifice fly to score Mike Tauchman.

American League batting champion DJ LeMahieu then singled home Gio Urshela for the game-winning run.

In the bottom of the ninth, Oscar Mercado reached first base for Cleveland after a passed ball got by Sanchez on a strikeout with two out, but closer Aroldis Chapman then punched out Austin Hedges to end the game.

Cleveland led 4-0 after the first inning, but the Yanks scored six unanswered runs thanks to a solo home run and sacrifice fly from Giancarlo Stanton and an Urshela grand slam.

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The Tribe tied the game at six in the bottom of the fifth off a two-RBI double from Jose Ramirez, but Sanchez launched an opposite-field two-run homer in the next frame.

The Indians fired back with a Jordan Luplow two-RBI double in the seventh and a Cesar Hernandez RBI single in the eighth before the final inning.

With the win, the Yanks advanced to the AL Division Series for the fourth straight season.


Notable Performances

New York RP Aroldis Chapman (Win): 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K

New York SP Masahiro Tanaka (No Decision): 4.0 IP, 5 H, 6 ER, 3 BB, 3 K

New York 3B Gio Urshela: 2-for-5, HR, 2 R, 4 RBI

New York DH Giancarlo Stanton: 1-for-2, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, 2 BB

Cleveland RP Brad Hand (Loss, Blown Save): 0.2 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 K

Cleveland SP Carlos Carrasco (No Decision): 3.0 IP, 2 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 6 K

Cleveland 3B Jose Ramirez: 2-for-4, 2 2B, R, 3 RBI, BB

Cleveland 2B Cesar Hernandez: 2-for-4, 2B, 2 R, RBI, BB


Yankees' Powerful, Deep Offense Propels Team to ALDS

The top three hitters in the Yankees' batting order had one combined hit through the first eight innings and finished 2-for-14 on the night.

Somehow, the Yankees still scored 10 runs, and that's a testament to their powerful and deep lineup that now features Sanchez, who hit 34 home runs last year, batting ninth.

The Yanks have the 2017 National League MVP in Stanton hitting fifth, and he came through with a solo home run to get New York on the board:

Not to be outdone, Urshela strolled to the dish two innings later and put the Yanks in the lead with a grand slam:

Urshela was a lifetime .225 hitter during his first three years in the bigs, but he's been a revelation in the Bronx, batting .310 since the beginning of 2019.

Cleveland later tied the game at six, but Sanchez's time to shine arrived in the sixth when he launched a home run into the seats:

Sanchez has struggled all season en route to hitting .147, but when he's running hot, he's one of the best and most powerful hitting catchers in the game.

Fans caught brief glimpses of that this season when he hit three homers over a four-game stretch and four dingers in a six-game span at separate points.

The Yanks benefitted from Sanchez's power on this night, but they would still need more after Cleveland scored three unanswered to take a 9-8 lead.

Small ball then unusually brought the Yankees the win, capped by LeMahieu's seeing-eye single to give New York the 10-9 edge:

The Yanks pose a serious problem to their opposition, in that any one of their nine hitters can easily be the hero at any given time. On Wednesday, the No. 5, No. 6 and No. 9 hitters largely carried the team into the next round.

The Yanks will need to figure out how to overcome a pesky Rays team that finished with the second-best record in baseball, but their bats are at least running hot as they look to pull off the upset.


What's Next?

The Yanks will face the Rays in the ALDS beginning Monday in San Diego. The entire best-of-five series will play out in San Diego's Petco Park, with the winner facing the Chicago White Sox, Oakland Athletics or Houston Astros in the AL Championship Series starting Oct. 11 in San Diego.

The Astros have advanced to the ALDS and await the winner of the White Sox vs. A's Wild Card Series. Game 3 of that matchup is Thursday at 3 p.m. ET.

The Yanks struggled against the Rays in 2020, who beat New York in eight of 10 matchups and outscored the Bronx Bombers, 47-34.