Red Sox

ALDS: Indians beat Yankees 9-8 in 13 innings, take 2-0 series lead

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ALDS: Indians beat Yankees 9-8 in 13 innings, take 2-0 series lead

CLEVELAND -- They've won this season in almost every way imaginable: comebacks, walk-offs, blowouts, nail-biters.

No. 104 for the Cleveland Indians topped them all.

Yan Gomes singled home Austin Jackson from second base with none out in the 13th inning as Cleveland rallied from five runs down to stun the New York Yankees 9-8 on Friday and snatch a 2-0 lead in the AL Division Series.

Despite an atrocious start by ace Corey Kluber and losing slugger Edwin Encarnacion with a severely sprained ankle in the first, the Indians, with some help from a call that went their way, continued a charmed season growing more and more special by the day.

"The tendency of this team is to never give up," Kluber said. "Even when we were down 8-3, we didn't believe the game was over. We never feel like we're out of a game."

Jackson drew a leadoff walk in the 13th from Dellin Betances and stole second. Gomes went to a full count before pulling his bouncer just inside the third-base bag, easily scoring Jackson and touching off another one of those wild celebrations inside Progressive Field, where the Indians have been so good while running away with their division and winning 22 straight.

As Jackson sprinted home, Cleveland's players poured out of the dugout and mobbed Gomes at the conclusion of a wild, 5-hour, 8-minute thriller that featured 14 pitchers and a call that may haunt Yankees manager Joe Girardi for months.

"We just were supposed to win," said Indians outfielder Jay Bruce, who hit a game-tying homer in the eighth. "No words, honestly. I'm speechless."

Francisco Lindor hit a grand slam in the sixth to rally Cleveland, which will try for a sweep in Game 3 Sunday at Yankee Stadium. Carlos Carrasco will start for the Indians against Masahiro Tanaka, who will try to extend New York's season.

The Yankees had their chances late, but they stranded the go-ahead run at third in the ninth and 10th - and had pinch-runner Ronald Torreyes picked off second in the 11th by Gomes from the behind the plate.

Josh Tomlin, who had been scheduled to start later in the series, pitched two perfect innings for the win as Francona ran out of relievers in a game started by his best pitcher.

Aaron Hicks hit a three-run homer off Kluber and Gary Sanchez and Greg Bird hit two-run shots for the Yankees, who may have caught a bad break before Lindor's homer.

New York's Aaron Judge went 0 for 3 and is hitless in seven at-bats in the series with five strikeouts.

The Yankees lost consecutive games for the first time since they were swept at home in a three-game series by the Indians from Aug. 28-30. Now, they need to sweep three in a row from Cleveland.

Down 8-3, facing New York's vaunted bullpen, the Indians came back.

New York starter CC Sabathia was lifted with one on and one out in the sixth for Chad Green, another one of the Yankees' flame-throwers who got an out before Gomes doubled. Green came inside and Lonnie Chisenhall was awarded first by plate umpire Dan Iassogna on a hit by pitch.

TV replays showed the ball slightly change direction - it appeared to hit the knob of Chisenhall's bat.

Girardi said there wasn't enough evidence within 30 seconds to justify a challenge. He said the team later saw a slow-motion replay suggesting he should've contested the call, but it was too late.

"There was nothing that told us he was not hit by the pitch," Girardi said.

New York catcher Gary Sanchez said he heard something, but wasn't sure what. Sanchez caught the pitch on a fly - it would've been strike three if it had been ruled a foul tip - and immediately pointed to the Yankees dugout, indicating they should consider challenging the call.

Girardi nodded and held up a finger, asking for time to make a decision.

"I didn't think it hit him, because he never reacted," Sanchez said through a translator. "He stood there. But it's just stuff that happens in the game."

Lindor then stepped in and hit a towering shot off the inside of the right-field foul pole to make it 8-7. Before he left the batter's box, Lindor gave his shot some help.

"As soon as I hit it, I knew it had a chance of going out," Lindor said. "Then after a couple of steps, I was like, `No, don't go foul, please. Just stay fair.' I started blowing on it a little bit. As soon as it went out, it was just a lot of emotions.

As Lindor rounded the bases with Cleveland's first postseason slam since Jim Thome in 1999, Progressive Field shook the way it did last November when Rajai Davis hit a two-run homer in eighth inning of Game 7 off Aroldis Chapman, then with the Cubs and now closing for the Yankees.

Bruce, who has done everything since coming over in an August trade, led off the eighth with his homer to left off reliever David Robertson, who pitched 3 1-3 scoreless innings and earned the win in the wild-card game over Minnesota.

Five innings later, the Indians finally broke the tie. They matched the longest postseason game in Cleveland history - Tony Pena's homer in the 13th beat Boston in Game 1 of the 1995 ALDS.

Kluber wasn't himself. Not even close.

The right-hander, who led the AL in wins, ERA and intimidation, didn't get out of the third inning as Francona pulled him after allowing Hicks' three-run homer.

It was the shortest outing this season for Kluber, and as he slowly walked off the mound, Cleveland's stunned crowd gave him a polite ovation and several teammates approached him to offer consolation.

"I threw too many balls," Kluber said. "And when I'd throw strikes, they were right over the plate."

SLUGGER HURT

After rolling his ankle, Encarnacion stayed on the ground and rolled in the infield dirt in obvious pain while waiting for medical attention. He was helped to his feet and had to be assisted off the field.

Francona said an MRI showed a sprain and that Encarnacion, who hit 38 homers with 107 RBIs, is day to day.

BRANTLEY'S RETURN

Sidelined for Cleveland's deep postseason run in 2016, Michael Brantley is along for the ride this year and the plan - before Encarnacion got hurt - was for the All-Star to start Game 3 in left.

He replaced Encarnacion in the second and went 0 for 5.

UP NEXT

Carrasco went 11-3 with a 2.65 ERA in 17 road starts. Tanaka, who struck out a career-high 15 in his last start, will be making his second postseason start for the Yankees. He lost the wild-card game in 2015.

BEST OF BST PODCAST: How J.D. Martinez signing impacts Red Sox

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NBC Sports Boston illustration

BEST OF BST PODCAST: How J.D. Martinez signing impacts Red Sox

0:41 - The Red Sox have made their splash in free agency as they sign slugger J.D. Martinez to a 5-year, $110 million. Evan Drellich and Lou Merloni discuss the addition and how it makes the Red Sox offense much deeper.

5:44 - Devin McCourty told NJ.com recently that the team knew Malcolm Butler wasn’t going to start in the Super Bowl. Albert Breer joins BST to discuss McCourty’s comments on Butler.

11:38 - Tom Giles, DJ Bean, and Joe Haggerty discuss the Bruins 2-1 win in overtime against the Flames and how they were able to bounce back after a 6-1 loss over the weekend. 

16:21 - Tom Curran, Kayce Smith, and Michael Hurley talk about why more people aren’t taking it seriously that Rob Gronkowski might retire.

J.D. Martinez's deal makes Dave Dombrowski, John Henry look good

J.D. Martinez's deal makes Dave Dombrowski, John Henry look good

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The marriage felt arranged. The engagement was definitely too long. At the altar, they proved a perfect match.

J.D. Martinez’s five-year, $110 million contract with the Red Sox, which isn’t yet official but has been confirmed to NBC Sports Boston, created a night that was uncommon for the Red Sox in the last year: nothing but love.

Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski in October took responsibility for providing a subpar offense in 2017. At last, he addressed an admitted shortcoming with the best available option, at a reasonable price to boot.

In front of the microphones Monday morning, Red Sox ownership did not acknowledge their most basic of obligations: to improve every winter. John Henry and Tom Werner suggested they had made sufficient changes.

Later in the day, Henry and Werner put their money where their mouth earlier was not.

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Doling out dollars is not always the solution, as the Red Sox and many teams have learned over the years. But in this case, a situation where the Sox were so clearly missing one thing — a bat capable of 40 home runs, someone whose production might come close to David Ortiz’s — dipping into free agency made sense. The depressed market and the state of the Sox farm system made a signing even more logical compared to a trade. There was greater impetus to act now, too, because of the likelihood this group looks somewhat different in coming years.

Missing out on Martinez would have been problematic. The posturing throughout the negotiations was constant from both sides, and sometimes downright aggravating to listen to. But the Sox did what they had to, and Martinez is still positioned to get a full slate of at-bats with the Sox this spring to be ready for Opening Day. Long wait, no foul.

One has to hope, and assume, that the Sox dug in on Martinez’s background, personality and character to best predict how he’ll fit in Boston. He’s not an Eric Hosmer, center-of-the-clubhouse figure. He’s a thoughtful and confident hitter, someone who was released four spring trainings ago by the Astros and signed with the Tigers on a minor league deal — Dombrowski’s old Tigers. Martinez handled the pressure of a pennant race last season in Arizona, although Arizona is a wee bit different.

The contract can work out well for both sides. Martinez surely wanted more, but he’s getting $50 million over the first two years and $72 million in the first years if he chooses not to take one of his two potential opt outs. He can become a free agent after Year 2 or Year 3, and has the insurance of two more years if he doesn’t want to test the market again.

Dombrowski has taken a lot of flack here and elsewhere for being an inefficient spender, for not squeezing out value when he can and should. He took the Martinez pursuit right up to the first day of full workouts at JetBlue Park (and Martinez’s agent, Scott Boras, took it there as well). But Dombrowski squeezed out value.

Martinez’s production at the plate is on par with some of the absolute best, even if he is a late-blooming star who isn’t as well known as say, Giancarlo Stanton.

From 2014-16, Ortiz had a .937 OPS. From 2014-17, Bryce Harper had a .937 OPS. Martinez had a .936 OPS.

The top slugging percentages from 2014-17, with a minimum of 1,500 plate appearances: Mike Trout, .579, Martinez .574, Stanton .573 and Ortiz .564.

Via BaseballSavant.com creator Daren Willman, Martinez barreled up 19.5 percent of batted balls last season, third most in the majors behind Aaron Judge and Joey Gallo.

Speaking of Judge — he has a partner in the lineup in Stanton. The Astros added top pitcher Gerritt Cole. Finally, the Red Sox added a big piece of their own. They did what they had to, and Dombrowski, Sam Kennedy and the Sox owners should be applauded for that.

Now, can they upgrade the bullpen? Just kidding. Mostly.

MORE J.D. MARTINEZ: