On Wednesday, the Cleveland Indians’ historic 2017 season came to an abrupt end with a 5-2 loss to the New York Yankees in Game 5 of the 2017 ALDS at Progressive Field. Progressive was sold out, packed to the brim to watch the Tribe’s season continue, it was expected, especially, with ace Kluber on the bump. Unfortunately, the Baby Bombers, who had different plans, grew up way faster than anyone expected.
It all started when the Yankees were down to their final strike in the top of the first inning. Shortstop Didi Gregorius delivered a solo home run into the seats in right field for a 1-0 lead.
Kluber settled in and cruised through one more inning. With left-fielder Brett Gardner on first base after a lead-off single to right field, for the second time in as many at-bats, Gregorius smashed a knee-high curveball well over the wall in right field, effectively ending Kluber’s night after only 3.2 innings.
The bend-but-don’t-break Yankees, way ahead of schedule, fought off elimination for the fourth time this postseason to dethrone the defending American League Champs and advanced to play those damn Astros in the ALCS.
With a blend of young stars and older veterans coming up big, the Yanks rocked the Tribe and bailed out manager Joe Girardi, who failed to challenge a key call in a Game 2 loss that threatened to derail the Bombers’ season. “It’s just our time,” starter CC Sabathia said.
These baby Bronx Bombers just 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, however, this time, the Yankees did it 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. 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.
The Yankees got a lot of unexpected help from Kluber. Kluber was one of baseball’s most consistent pitchers all season, winning 18 games and leading the AL with a 2.25 ERA. He’s a favorite to win his second Cy Young Award. However, October has been cruel to the right-hander. He allowed 9 runs, including 4 homers, over 6 1/3 innings in two postseason starts – hardly what he or the Indians expected.
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 of an already jittery Cleveland crowd fearing the worst.
A few hours later, those fears were realized.
Yankees move on to face the Houston Astros in the ALCS