Indians stage huge comeback, beat Yankees in extra innings of Game 2: What to know

 In Sports

On Friday night in Cleveland, the Indians moved a step closer to the ALCS as they beat the Yankees 9-8 in 13 innings (box score) and took a 2-0 lead in the ALDS. It turned out to be the wildest game of the 2017 postseason thus far. How wild? Take a look at the win expectancy chart … 

In the end, Yan Gomes’ walk-off hit plated Austin Jackson with the winning run … 

Now let’s break it down further … 

Green and Robertson didn’t get it done

The trade additions of David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle paired with Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances, and Chad Green give the Yankees a powerhouse bullpen. Forty percent of those relievers didn’t enjoy customary success on Friday night, however. 

Yanks starter CC Sabathia settled down nicely after a rough first inning and wound up retiring 12 of the last 13 batters he faced. Also, he handed the Yankee pen an 8-3 lead and a 94.1 percent chance of winning Game 2. The pen then proceeded to give up five runs.

The big blow was Francisco Lindor’s clutch grand slam off Green, which brought the Tribe within a run (see below for the circumstances that led up to it), and then came Jay Bruce’s second homer of the ALDS, this one off Robertson … 

And with that the Yankees had blown a five-run postseason lead for the first time since 2002.

The Cleveland bullpen finished up strong

Kluber of course allowed six runs, and after Tyler Olson worked a scoreless inning Mike Clevinger allowed a two-run homer to Greg Bird. After that, though, a conga line of Cleveland relievers — Bryan Shaw, Andrew Miller, Joe Smith, Cody Allen, and Josh Tomlin — combined to allow no runs in 8 2/3 innings. That allowed the Indians’ bats to get them back in the game and eventually win it. 

The Yankees made Kluber work hard in the first inning

Kluber this season, as you would expect, hasn’t had much trouble in the opening frame. During the regular season, Kluber pitched to a 1.55 ERA with 38 strikeouts against five unintentional walks. In Game 2, though, here’s how his first inning went … 

  • Brett Gardner lines out.
  • Aaron Judge walks. 
  • Gary Sanchez homers (more on that below). 
  • Didi Gregorius strikes out on eight pitches.
  • Starlin Castro doubles.
  • Greg Bird reaches on an error.
  • Aaron Hicks strikes out on six pitches. 

The Yankees plated a pair of runs and worked Kluber for 38 pitches. That’s the first time he’d thrown 30 or pitched in an inning since July. Maybe all that early work exacted a price … 

Kluber had his worst start in a long time

So here’s Kluber’s final line for Game 2 … 

Corey Kluber

/ Indians
(vs. NYY, 10/6)

IP: 2 2/3
H: 7
R: 6
ER: 6
SO: 4
BB: 1
HR: 2

That’s the first time he’s given up six runs in a start since April 15, when he allowed six in 6 1/3 to the Tigers. It’s his shortest outing all year. It’s just the fourth time this season that he’s allowed two or more home runs in a start. In terms of Game Score, which is a quick-and-dirty Bill James metric that measures a pitcher’s dominance or lack thereof in a given start (50 is average and anything 90 or higher is an absolute gem), Kluber registered a 14 on Friday. Only once his career has he put up a worse Game Score, and that was back in May of 2013. 

Here’s the blow in Game 2 that did him in … 

That’s the other Yankee outfielder named Aaron doling out some abuse. 

Anyhow, what made Kluber’s struggles even more unexpected is how dominant he’s been lately … 

And of course let’s not forget last postseason … 

All of this, of course, is fully in keeping with a 2017 postseason mini-trend … 

Baseball, man. Baseball.

Joe Girardi made a critical decision not to ask for replay

With two out and runners on the corners in the bottom of the sixth and reliever Chad Green staked to an 8-3 lead, Lonnie Chisenhall fouled off six straight pitches before plate ump ruled that the seventh pitch of the at-bat hit him on the hand. That, of course, loaded the bases. The problem is that it appeared on reply and, really, to the naked eye that the pitch hit the knob of Chisenhall’s bat and then settled into Gary Sanchez’s glove. Here’s a look … 

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