Yanks Rollercoaster Indians; Advance in Playoffs! NY 10 Clev 9 — 7 Reasons Why

The Yankees were down 4-0 in the 1st inning, battled back to take a 5-4 lead on a Gio Urshela grand slam, blew two late-inning, 2-run leads, were down a run in the 9th and seemingly lost, but scored 2 runs to win the game as Aroldis Chapman got the 2-inning save. It was a pressure-packed rollercoaster night of elation, despair, and biting fingernails for Yankee fans, the 5-hr game starting in September and ending at about 1 am in the morning on October 1st.

Here’s how it happened:

1. Urshela on Offense & Defense

Down 4-0 in the 1st and in a big hole, the Yanks got a run back on a Giancarlo Stanton home run in the 2nd and then loaded the bases in the 4th on an Aaron Hicks triple and walk to Gleyber Torres and Brett Gardner. Gio Urshela stepped up and hit a massive 350+ foot home run to left and Yankee Twitter was in Jubilation.

Later on in the roller coaster ride — bottom of the 8th, Jonathan Loaisiga in relief walked the 1st two batters, and was relieved by Aroldis Chapman who allowed a little fly ball that fell in for a run-scoring single and a 9-8 Cleveland lead. All was doom. The Yankees lost. There were still 2 runners on and nobody out. But Aroldis Chapman struck out the next batter and then 1st baseman Carlos Santana hit a SHOT down 3rd that Gio Urshela snared and turned into a double play from the seat of his pants. The defensive play of the season so far. He saved any chance the Yanks had of coming back.

2. Sanchez Big Bat

Top of the 9th, the Yankees loaded the bases with nobody out on a walk and two singles. But Brett Gardner struck out and it was nail biting time. Gary Sanchez up. A strikeout and it would be almost over. But Sanchez lifted a fly ball that was deep enough to easily score the tying run on a sac fly. He came up BIG.

Earlier, in the 6th, Sanchez had put the Yanks ahead 8-6 with a sky-high, opposite-field home run that just made it over the right field wall — launching jubilation on Yankee Twitter. He continues to hit to all fields as he had been doing the last two weeks of the regular season.

3. LeMahieu Game Winner

After Sanchez’s game-tying sac fly in the 9th, DJ LeMahieu got a seeing-eye basehit to center to score the go-ahead Yankee run and make it 10-9. Jubilation again!

4. Chapman in Top Form

Aroldis Chapman has been in top form as the season ended — there were two consecutive games at the end of the year where he blew thru lineups on 10 and 12 pitches, striking out 2 each time to get easy saves.

That Aroldis Chapman stepped into this game. After allowing the bloop single in the 8th, he got the big strikeout and double play, and then in the 9th was blowing smoke. He struck out the 1st batter, got a groundout, and then struck out Oscar Mercado on a slider in the dirt to presumably end the game but the ball got past Gary Sanchez and Mercado made it to 1st. Nail biting time and many cuss words against Sanchez on Yankee Twitter. But Chapman then struck out Austin Hedges to win the game.

5. Tanaka Overcame the Rain — Settled Down

Back in September, 5 hours earlier, Masahiro Tanaka had to go through two rain delays in the 1st inning — a 45-minute delay to start the game, and then another 30-minute delay after he had given up 2 runs in the 1st. After allowing the 4 runs in the 1st inning, Tanaka settled down and pitched shutout ball until the 5th, allowing Stanton, Gio Urshela, and the Yanks to come back and gain a 5-4 lead.

In the 5th, Tanaka allowed a leadoff double to Francisco Lindor, then a walk to 2nd baseman Cesar Hernandez and was gone. Chad Green came in and blew 2 98-mph fastballs past Jose Ramirez but then threw an off speed pitch that was ripped for a double and tie game.

Workmanlike Middle Relief

Chad Green got the next 3 outs (2 strikeouts) and was relieved by Zack Britton in the 6th after two singles in between a strikeout. Zack Britton ended that threat by getting a tailor-made, double-play ground ball to 3rd that Gio Urshela (him again) began the double play on. Overall Green and Britton did their job.

But it was Tanaka, by pitching a shutout 2nd thru 4th, who has to be given the credit for keeping the Yanks in this game. He pitched better than the 6-runs-allowed statline. Cleveland starter Carlos Carrasco also had trouble after the long delays, and was gone with nobody out in the 4th.

6. The Yankee Offense = Kingda Ka

The Yankees ended up scoring 10 runs, after scoring 12 runs in the 1st game. Giancarlo Stanton is on his game. Brett Gardner is a very tough out. DJ LeMahieu is a machine. Gio Urshela is a snake in the grass of the lineup. Aaron Hicks is constantly getting on base with walks. Gary Sanchez is hitting big homers, putting the ball in play for big sac fly’s, and walking. Luke Voit, Aaron Judge, the Yankee offense is a juggernaut that opposing pitchers have to be looking at like the Kingda Ka rollercoaster at 6 Flags.

7. Got a Hand from Hand & Cleveland Pitchers

Some of it was due to the Yankee hitters being so selective, some was due to Cleveland being so careful with the Yankee hitters — but Cleveland pitchers walked 12 batters in this game. In the 9th, Cleveland brought in Brad Hand, who was throwing off-speed pitch after off-speed pitch and in general lots of balls to walk Giancarlo Stanton to start the inning, and then allow a single by Gio Urshela. Hand mishandled a comebacker by Gleyber Torres to load the bases with nobody out. The Hand jokes were flying but Hand started to mix in some 91 mph fastballs to strikeout Gardner. Then the big Sac Fly by Sanchez to tie it and the base hit by LeMahieu to put the Yanks ahead. Yankee Twitter gave Hand a hand.

Lefty Lefty Righty Righty Double Tie Score

One interesting matchup late in the game was that the Indians pinch hit for their hottest hitter in the series, Josh Naylor, in the 8th. Naylor was a perfect 4-4 in Game 1 (he got 3 of the 6 hits Gerrit Cole allowed), and was 1-3 with 2 RBI in this game. With the Yanks up 8-6, Zack Britton got the first 2 outs of the 8th, then walked two straight batters.

Britton is a lefty and so is Naylor, so Cleveland pinch hit for Naylor with right-handed batter Jordan Luplow. The Yankees countered by bringing in righty Jonathan Loaisiga who got 2 strikes on Luplow with 98-mph fastballs, but then threw a changeup that Luplow ripped for a double to deep center, tying the game at 8-8.

You can imagine the 2nd guessing that was going on, on Yankee Twitter at this point. Especially on the radio by John Sterling who was getting really sarcastic at Yank pitchers getting 2 strikes with fastballs and then throwing changeups. Loaisiga then hit the next batter before getting a groundout to end it. The groundout was actually huge.

Loaisiga was in there because Adam Ottavino wasn’t — his struggles late in the season have apparently caused Yank manager Aaron Boone to have not much confidence in him. And of course Tommy Kahnle is gone after Tommy John surgery early in the year. Warming in the bullpen for the Yanks was Jordan Montgomery, when Boone instead brought Chapman in.


With the win, the Yanks travel to “the Bubble” in San Diego to face Tampa in a best-of-5 game series starting on Monday — with 5 games scheduled for 5 days — next Monday thru Friday.

The Boxscore


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