Baby Bombers Bounce Back - ALDS Breakdown
In an incredible back-and-forth series, the Yankees topped the Indians in five games. The Yankees came into this game after winning the Wild Card game thanks to 8.2 innings of stellar bullpen work that put them over the Twins. The Indians steamrolled their way through the second half of the season. The boasted the largest run-differential in Major League Baseball, and also had a 22 game win streak. They had a lot of momentum going into October, whereas the Yankees did not. The Wild Card game has provided a chance for teams to gain a lot of momentum straight out of the gate and more often than not, slingshots the team into the Championship Series.
In game one, the Indians were lead by a dominant performance from their starting pitcher, Trevor Bauer. He pitched 6.2 shutout innings, allowing two hits, walking one, and striking out eight batters. Sonny Gray took the hill for the Yankees, and only lasted 3.2 innings, and allowed three runs while also walking five batters. On the offensive side of the ball, the Indians scored runs on the back of Jay Bruce, who had three RBIs, two of which came on a massive two-run homer in the fourth inning. The Indians would go on to win the game 4-0, and looked to take a commanding 2-0 lead in game two on the back of their ace, Corey Kluber.
Game two was one of the most craziest games to take place this October. Corey Kluber, the ace of the Cleveland Indians and the likely AL Cy Young award winner, took the mound for the Indians, and only lasted 2.2 innings. He allowed a two-run bomb in the first inning from Gary Sanchez, and would go on to allow four more runs before he was removed from the game. The Indians would tie the game in the second after two RBI singles from Carlos Santana and Jason Kipnis. The Yankees tacked on three more runs in the third inning, two on a home run from Aaron Hicks. Greg Bird would go on to hit a two-run homer in the fifth to stretch the Yankee lead to five runs. Up to this point, CC Sabathia was pitching for the Yankees, and he was doing great. He lasted 5.1 innings while only allowing two earned runs. When Sabathia was removed from the game, the Indians’ shortstop, Francisco Lindor hit a grand slam after Joe Girardi refused to challenge a foul-tip third strike that would have ended the innings. The Indians were right back in the game, only down one run. Jay Bruce would go on to tie the game in the eighth inning with a monster opposite-field home run. The game would remain tied until the thirteenth inning, when Yan Gomes hit a walk-off single to win the game. The Indians won game two with a final score of 9-8.
Game three saw the series move from Cleveland to New York. Taking the mound for the Yankees was Masahiro Tanaka, who gave the Yankees the most dominant pitching performance that October of 2017 has been to this point. Masahiro Tanaka dominated the Indians for seven innings, while allowing only three hits and striking out seven. The Yankees only scored one run in game three, but they made sure that it counted. In the seventh inning, Greg Bird smashed a solo shot off of the 2016 ALCS MVP, Andrew Miller. Once Masahiro Tanaka was removed from the game, the Yankees brought in David Robinson and Aroldis Chapman who pitched two shutout innings to end the game. The Yankees won game three with a final score of 1-0.
Game four was the chance of a lifetime for Yankees ace Luis Severino. After only recording one out in the Wild Card game, he was determined to show that he was capable of replicating his regular season success in October. He was backed by a stellar offensive outing from the team, and he saw his offense give him a five run cushion in the first three innings. Severino would allow three runs on the day, coming on two homers, one in the fourth inning from Carlos Santana, and one in the fifth from Roberto Perez. The Yankees answered back with two more runs, one coming on a solo shot from Gary Sanchez. Luis Severino would last seven innings, allowing three runs on four hits, while striking out nine. The Yankees offense was also great, which forced the Indians to throw 7.1 innings from the bullpen, which would deplete their relief pitchers abilities in a winner-take-all game five. The Yankees would go on to win game four with a score of 7-3.
Game five, the second winner-take-all game the Yankees have played in the 2017 postseason. The Yankees would send CC Sabathia to the mound to face Corey Kluber. Corey Kluber was looking to redeem himself after an uncharacteristically bad start in game two, and unfortunately for the city of Cleveland, he was not his normal self. He seemed to be throwing the ball well until he faced Didi Gregorius in the first inning with two outs. Didi took a pitch from Kluber and smashed it to right field for a solo homer to put the Yankees ahead 1-0. He would go on to homer off of Kluber again in the third to put the Yankees ahead 3-0. He became the first player to hit three home runs in winner-take-all games in the postseason. The score would remain 3-0 until the fifth inning, when the Indians would hit four consecutive singles off of CC Sabathia to end his night. CC Sabathia was spectacular against the Indians, he threw 4.1 innings while matching his postseason career high in strikeouts with nine. Luckily for Sabathia, the Yankees boast one of the best bullpens in Major League Baseball, and were able to hold the Indians scoreless for the rest of the night. In the ninth inning, Brett Gardner would hit a two run single to right, which plated two more runs and gave the Yankees a three run lead. Aroldis Chapman returned to the mount in the ninth to slam the door on the Indians’ historic season. The Yankees won game five with a final score of 5-3.
The Yankees advanced to the ALCS, and won a playoff series for the first time since Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera retired. They will face the Houston Astros in the ALCS starting on Friday.
I also think that it is worth noting that I predicted the Yankees would win this series in five games: "I am going to go with my gut and pick the New York Yankees to win the Series in five games to advance to the ALCS. The Yankees were second in the league in run differential to the Indians, and I think the momentum from the Wild Card game will put them in a good position to beat the Indians." (October 3, Yankees Win the Wild Card + ALDS Preview)