Cleveland Indians

ALDS: Yankees complete comeback, beat Indians 5-2 to advance to ALCS

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ALDS: Yankees complete comeback, beat Indians 5-2 to advance to ALCS

CLEVELAND -- These young Yankees were unshaken, resilient and as tough as the city they represent.

The baby Bronx Bombers have grown up fast.

Didi Gregorius, following in the October footprints left by Derek Jeter, homered twice off Corey Kluber as New York beat the Cleveland Indians 5-2 in Game 5 on Wednesday night to complete its comeback from a 2-0 deficit in the Division Series and dethrone the AL champions.

The bend-but-don't-break Yankees, way ahead of schedule, staved off elimination for the fourth time in this postseason and advanced to play the Houston Astros in the AL Championship Series starting Friday night at Minute Maid Park.

With a blend of young stars and older veterans coming up big, the Yankees rocked Cleveland and bailed out manager Joe Girardi, who failed to challenge a key call in a Game 2 loss that threatened to sabotage New York's season.

"These guys had my back and they fought and fought," Girardi said. "They beat a really good team. What those guys did for me, I'll never forget it. "

The Yankees went 2-5 against the AL West champion Astros, led by 5-foot-6 dynamo and MVP candidate Jose Altuve. But none of that matters now to this group of New Yorkers.

After winning twice at home, and after Girardi said he "screwed up" and felt horrible about it, the Yankees - with little offensive help from rookie star Aaron Judge - came into Progressive Field and finished off the Indians, who won 102 games during the regular season, ripped off a historic 22-game winning streak and were favored to get back to the World Series after losing in seven games a year ago to the Chicago Cubs.

Cleveland's Series drought turns 70 next year - baseball's longest dry spell.

"Nobody wanted the season to be over," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "It doesn't wind down, it comes to a crashing halt. It's disappointing. We felt good about ourselves. We made it harder to win, especially in the last two games."

The Indians closed to 3-2 in the fifth against starter CC Sabathia before David Robertson pitched 2 2/3 hitless innings for the win. Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman, who faced Cleveland in last year's spine-tingling World Series and signed an $86 million free agent contract in December, worked two innings for the save.

Chapman went to the mound with a three-run lead in the ninth after Brett Gardner battled Cody Allen for 12 pitches before hitting an RBI single, with New York's fifth run scoring when Todd Frazier raced home on right fielder Jay Bruce's throwing error.

Gardner's gritty at-bat was symbolic of these Yankees. They wouldn't give in.

"We can win a lot of different ways," Gardner said.

When Austin Jackson was called out on strikes to end it, the Yankees rushed to the mound to celebrate with a wide-eyed Chapman. An elated Girardi hugged his coaches.

On Friday, Girardi was crestfallen, afraid he had wrecked the season.

"After Game 2, Joe came up to me in this same spot (outside the manager's office) and said, `Hey, man. I'm sorry,'" Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. "I told him, `We just have to keep battling. Nothing is over yet.' No one on the plane home thought it was over at all."

The Yankees became the 10th team to overcome a 2-0 deficit to win a best-of-five playoff series. New York also did it in 2001, rallying to beat Oakland - a series remembered for Jeter's backhand flip to home plate.

Gregorius, who took over at shortstop following Jeter's retirement after the 2014 season, hit a solo homer in the first off Kluber and added a two-run shot in the third off Cleveland's ace, who didn't look like himself during either start in this series.

One win shy of a Series title last year, the Indians had only one goal in mind in 2017.

They came up short again, and have now lost six consecutive games with a chance to clinch a postseason series. The skid dates to last year's World Series, when they squandered a 3-1 lead to the Cubs.

Cleveland is the first team in history to blow a two-game series lead in consecutive postseasons.

Everything was set up for the Indians: Kluber on the mound, Game 5 at home, sensational setup man Andrew Miller rested.

The Yankees, though, wouldn't be denied. They battled back from a 3-0 deficit in the first inning of their wild-card game against Minnesota and then had to overcome a crushing loss in Game 2, when Girardi's decisions led to him being booed at Yankee Stadium.

But these Yankees displayed pinstriped pride and pulled Girardi off the hook.

"I had a hole in my heart for about five or six days," he said.

It's healed now.

JUDGE NOT

The Yankees advanced without much help from Judge, who struck out four times in Game 5 and went 1 for 20 (.050) in the series with 16 strikeouts - an ALDS record. But the 6-foot-7 rookie might have saved New York's season in Game 3, when he reached above the right-field wall to rob Francisco Lindor of a two-run homer in a 1-0 win. "I didn't do my job at the top of the order, but my teammates came up big for me," Judge said.

KLUBER KLOBBERED

Kluber was one of baseball's most consistent pitchers all season, winning 18 games and leading the AL with a 2.25 ERA.

However, October was cruel to the right-hander. He allowed nine runs, including four homers, over 6 1/3 innings in two postseason starts, hardly what he or the Indians expected.

Kluber overcame a back issue earlier this season and it flared up this fall.

"He's fighting a lot," Francona said. "I think you also have to respect the fact that guy wants to go out there and he's our horse. And sometimes it doesn't work."

SLUMPS

The Indians batted .171 as a team with All-Stars Francisco Lindor (2 for 18) and Jose Ramirez (2 for 20) unable to snap out of funks.

SWEET SWING

Gregorius set a franchise record for home runs in a season by a shortstop with 25, one more than Jeter hit in 1999 when No. 2 led the Yankees to a second straight World Series title.

Gregorius got New York off to an ideal start, homering with two outs in the first when Kluber grooved a fastball. The shot deep into the seats in right raised the anxiety level to an already jittery Cleveland crowd fearing the worst.

ALDS: Severino, Judge help Yanks top Indians 7-3 to force Game 5

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ALDS: Severino, Judge help Yanks top Indians 7-3 to force Game 5

NEW YORK -- Luis SeverinoAaron Judge and the New York Yankees are headed back to Cleveland for a decisive Game 5 -- thanks to plenty of help from the Indians.

Severino rebounded from his playoff debacle, Judge delivered a big hit and the Yankees took advantage of shoddy defense by Cleveland to beat the Indians 7-3 Monday night and even their AL Division Series at two games apiece.

"We've got a shot now," said New York manager Joe Girardi, harshly criticized for his Game 2 decisions. "So it's a totally different feeling than it was the other day, and these guys have picked me up."

Gary Sanchez homered and a slumping Judge laced an early two-run double for his only hit of the series to go with 12 strikeouts in 15 at-bats.

Cleveland starter Trevor Bauer struggled on three days' rest and was chased in the second inning. But it was on the wet Yankee Stadium field where the Indians really flopped, committing a season-high four errors that marked a franchise record for a postseason game and led to six unearned runs.

The defending AL champions made only 76 errors all season, the lowest total in the league.

"The whole night, we made it hard on ourselves to win," manager Terry Francona said.

After preventing a three-game sweep with a 1-0 win Sunday night, the wild-card Yankees will start CC Sabathia against his original team in Game 5 on Wednesday. Indians ace Corey Kluber gets the ball in a rematch from Game 2, when he was hit hard by New York.

"It's hard to imagine giving it to somebody better," Francona said. "We're looking forward to it."

The winner faces Houston in the AL Championship Series after the Astros finished off Boston in four games Monday to win their ALDS.

"We've got a young team and they're hungry," Severino said.

Simply taking two in a row to send the series back to Cleveland was no small feat for the Yankees. The last time the Indians lost consecutive games was Aug. 22-23 at home against Boston, just before starting their AL-record 22-game winning streak. From that point on, Cleveland had gone 35-4 before arriving in the Bronx for Game 3 of the ALDS.

Minus injured slugger Edwin Encarnacion, the Indians have scored three runs in two games since.

Severino got only one out in the wild-card game against Minnesota last Tuesday, but was bailed out by his teammates as New York advanced with an 8-4 victory. This time, the 23-year-old ace was determined to come through, and he did.

"I think he was able to relax a lot more. He was able to control his adrenaline," Girardi said. "He was able to channel things down and make his pitch, as opposed to just trying to power his way through it."

Handed an early 5-0 lead and showing lots of emotion on the mound, the fired-up righty struck out nine in seven innings. With the crowd of 47,316 chanting his name, Severino threw 113 pitches and gave up four hits - including Carlos Santana's two-run homer and Roberto Perez's solo shot.

"I told him after the game, he grew up a lot today," Girardi said.

Tommy Kahnle relieved a wild Dellin Betances in the eighth and got six straight outs - five on strikeouts - for his first save of the season as New York improved to 3-0 when facing playoff elimination this year.

"There's a lot of confidence in that room," Girardi said.

Sanchez hit his second home run of the series off Bryan Shaw in the sixth to make it 7-3.

A rainy day in the Big Apple prevented both teams from taking batting practice on the field. But the tarp was pulled and play started right on time, with fans in hooded ponchos bunched below the overhangs seeking cover from a heavy drizzle.

Showers dissipated in the bottom of the first, though a few puddles remained on the slick warning track all night.

The first of two costly errors by normally sure-handed third baseman Giovanny Urshela, a .224 hitter in the lineup for his defense, was a painful one. Starlin Castro's sinking line drive in the second struck him just above the left ankle and caromed away.

Shaken up, Urshela was checked by a trainer but stayed in the game.

With two outs, Todd Frazier pulled a 78 mph curve to deep left and it landed smack on the foul line for an RBI double. A frustrated Bauer gestured with his hand when he didn't get a strike-three call on a checked swing by Aaron Hicks, who soon singled home a run.

Brett Gardner singled and, after a mound visit from Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway, Judge had a gritty at-bat. The rookie slugger was 0 for 11 with nine strikeouts in the series before fighting back from 0-2 to a full count and lining a two-run double to the left-field wall on one hop.

"Just had to grind it out," Judge said.

After pulling in at second base, he clapped and pointed to the Yankees dugout.

Bauer managed only five outs after tossing two-hit ball with eight strikeouts over 6 2/3 innings during a 4-0 win in the series opener last Thursday. All four runs he allowed were unearned.

"I thought my stuff was better than Game 1," Bauer said. "Just a couple of little things went their way instead of mine."

Urshela's two-out throwing error with the bases loaded in the third made it 5-0.

Frazier reached on pitcher Danny Salazar's two-base throwing error to start the fifth. He scored on Gardner's shallow sacrifice fly to center fielder Jason Kipnis, a second baseman moved to the outfield late this season. Kipnis began the year on the disabled list with a shoulder problem.

"As a team, we didn't play the greatest defense tonight," Bauer said.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Indians: Encarnacion sat out again after leaving Game 2 with a sprained right ankle. Before the game, Francona said the team hoped Encarnacion would be available to pinch-hit. ... OF Brandon Guyer is scheduled for surgery Wednesday in Arizona to repair a tendon in his left wrist, ending any chances of him playing in this postseason.

UP NEXT

Indians: A favorite to win his second Cy Young Award next month, Kluber went 18-4 with a 2.25 ERA and 265 strikeouts this season. Those impressive numbers included a 2-0 mark with a 1.59 ERA against New York that left him 5-1 with a 1.80 ERA in seven career regular-season starts vs. the Yankees. But they got to him in Game 2 last Friday for six runs and seven hits over 2 2/3 innings.

Yankees: If they don't win Game 5, it could be Sabathia's final outing for the Yankees. The 37-year-old lefty was 14-5 with a 3.69 ERA this season and can become a free agent after the World Series. He was removed with an 8-3 cushion in Game 2 at Cleveland after only 77 pitches. New York's vaunted bullpen squandered the lead and the Yankees lost 9-8 in 13 innings.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

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.