Surprising Yankees advance to American League title series
CLEVELAND -- Didi Gregorius hit two home runs and drove in three runs, and the New York Yankees beat the Cleveland Indians 5-2 on Wednesday night in the deciding Game 5 of the American League Division Series at Progressive Field.
After losing the first two games of the series, the Yankees won three in a row, outscoring Cleveland 13-5. The Indians hadn't lost three straight games since July 30-Aug. 1.
New York advances to the American League Championship Series against the Houston Astros. Game 1 will be played Friday in Houston.
The Indians, who won 102 games during the regular season, including an American League-record 22-game winning streak, were picked by many to make a second consecutive World Series appearance. However, New York's pitching staff had other ideas. In the last three games of the series, Yankees pitchers completely shut down Cleveland's offense.
In the final three games of the ALDS, Cleveland hit .152 as a team, and New York held the lead in all 27 innings. The Indians, who made the fewest errors in the American League this year, committed seven errors in the last two games.
Yankees starter CC Sabathia pitched four strong innings before faltering in the fifth. He struck out nine and was charged with two runs in 4 1/3 innings. David Robertson (1-0) entered and pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings to get the win.
Aroldis Chapman shut out Cleveland over the last two innings to pick up his second save of the series.
Gregorius went 3-for-4, and Brett Gardner added three hits and an RBI for New York.
Cleveland starter Corey Kluber (0-1) lasted only 3 2/3 innings, giving up three runs on three hits and two walks.
Leading 3-2, the Yankees scored two insurance runs in the ninth inning as a result of an RBI single by Gardner off Cody Allen, capping a 12-pitch at-bat. The second run on the play scored on a throwing error by right fielder Jay Bruce.
The Yankees wasted little time in taking the lead against Kluber. Gregorius, the No. 3 hitter, hit a 1-2 pitch into the seats in right field for his first home run.
The Yankees didn't score again until Gregorius batted again. Gardner led off the third inning with a single. Kluber struck out Aaron Judge before Gregorius hit an 0-1 pitch into the right field seats for his second home run, giving New York a 3-0 lead.
Kluber was removed from the game after walking Jacoby Ellsbury with two outs and nobody on base in the fourth inning. Andrew Miller relieved Kluber and struck out Todd Frazier for the third out.
Sabathia, meanwhile, was mesmerizing Cleveland hitters. The big lefty retired the first nine batters he faced, striking out six of them. That streak was briefly halted when Francisco Lindor led off the fourth inning with a single. But Sabathia resumed his domination by retiring the next three batters to end the inning.
The Indians finally solved Sabathia in the fifth inning, with four straight one-out singles. Carlos Santana led off the inning by striking out, but Austin Jackson, Jay Bruce, Roberto Perez, and Giovanny Urshela hit consecutive singles.
The hits by Perez and Urshela produced runs, cutting the Yankees' lead to 3-2 and putting runners at first and second with one out.
Robertson relieved Sabathia and got Lindor to hit into an inning-ending double play.
NOTES: Prior to hitting home runs in his first two at bats against RHP Corey Kluber on Wednesday night, Yankees SS Didi Gregorius was 2-for-15 in his career vs. Kluber. ... New York OF Jacoby Ellsbury, who has reached first base on catcher's interference a major-league-record 31 times in his career, reached first on catcher's interference in the second inning. ... Kluber, who led the major leagues with a 2.25 ERA this year, had a 12.79 ERA in two starts in the Division Series. ... Indians DH Edwin Encarnacion was back in the lineup for Game 5 after missing the previous two games with a sprained right ankle. He went 0-for-4. ... Yankees RF Aaron Judge went 0-for-5 with four strikeouts. He finished 1-for-20 with 16 strikeouts in the series.