Cleveland Indians' Francisco Lindor reacts after hitting a grand slam off New York Yankees relief pitcher Chad Green in the sixth inning of Game 2 of the American League Division Series on Friday in Cleveland. Carlos Santana, Yan Gomes and Lonnie Chisenhall scored on the play.
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CLEVELAND -- Overcoming adversity has been a trademark of the Indians since their magical postseason run last year, but they took it to another level Friday night in Game 2 of the American League Division Series at Progressive Field.
Down big after an uncharacteristically poor outing from ace Corey Kluber and without cleanup hitter Edwin Encarnacion, who left the game with what appeared to be a serious ankle injury, the never-say-die Indians still wound up on the winning end of a 9-8 decision over the Yankees in 13 innings.
After Francisco Lindor brought Cleveland within a run on a two-out grand slam in the sixth inning, Game 1 hero Jay Bruce tied it with a solo home run in the eighth.
The Indians won it on a walk-off single from Yan Gomes, who scored Austin Jackson, to send Cleveland’s players and a sellout crowd of 37,681 fans into a tizzy.
“It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life,” said Lindor, whose team brings a 2-0 series lead to New York for Game 3 on Sunday. “The way everyone battled and everyone got together, that was pretty special to watch and one of the most amazing experiences of my life.”
“We don’t just believe in one or two guys,” manager Terry Francona said. “We believe in our entire team, and it took an entire team tonight to win that game. There was so many things that happened that, if we don’t do one of them, we probably lose.”
The Indians entered Game 2 in what appeared to be an ideal position after Francona’s surprising decision to start Trevor Bauer over Kluber in Game 1 paid off. They had their ace on the mound and a chance to take control of the series.
But Kluber, the frontrunner to win his second Cy Young award, offered up one of his worst performances of the year at an inopportune time, failing to last three innings after the Yankees torched him for six runs on seven hits.
It was a shocking sight for the Indians, who watched Kluber dominate on a consistent basis after leaving the disabled list (lower-back injury) June 1.
Kluber was off the mark from the start, surrendering a two-run homer to Gary Sanchez during a 37-pitch opening inning before allowing four more in the third -- three on a homer from Aaron Hicks.
“Klubes just fought his command right from the get-go,” Francona said. “In the first inning, he walked (Aaron) Judge and he got behind on Sanchez. So that cost him two. (It) looked like in the second he was going to reel it back in a little bit. Then in the third, when you’re around 75 pitches into the third, that kind of speaks volumes. He was having trouble working ahead. Then he was having trouble finishing hitters. And guys that he’s handled in the past were -- obviously, the Hicks home run was a huge blow. It was just -- you know, he was fighting his mechanics from the get-go.”
While Kluber was sputtering, former Indians ace and Cy Young winner CC Sabathia was riding to the rescue for New York again.
Sabathia, who went 9-0 in the regular season after a Yankees’ loss, scuffled early, allowing three runs over the first two innings, but persevered to work an effective outing.
The big left-hander retired 11 straight before walking Carlos Santana to start the sixth. He got the first out of the inning, then departed with the Yankees in front 8-3.
With Sabathia gone, the Indians mounted their comeback.
Gomes delivered his first big hit with a two-out double that moved Santana to third. Chad Green hit Lonnie Chisenhall with a pitch that was disputed by the Yankees to load the bases and Lindor followed with a grand slam off the right-field foul pole that pumped life into the Indians and their crowd.
With suffocating reliever David Robertson on the mound, Bruce led off the eighth with his second homer in as many nights to tie the game at 8.
“Robertson went through an inning and a third and was pretty good,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “Jay Bruce hurt us this whole series, and he hurt us again tonight.”
The teams went scoreless over the next four innings, thanks to dominating work from the bullpens, before Jackson started the 13th with a walk off Dellin Betances.
Jackson stole second base to move into scoring position and Gomes brought him home, bouncing a hard grounder down the third-base line to touch off the celebration.
“I was just trying to put the bat on the ball and try to get him over any way I could,” Gomes said. “The pitches that were there, I felt like I was kind of on it, so I was able to see it, and it just happened to go my way today.
“That was a tremendous game. That’s what you call October baseball right there. We’ve had tremendous comebacks. That’s probably one of the top ones we’ve had all year. Going up 2-0 against the Yankees into New York, it’s a good feeling right now.”
The five-run deficit was the largest the Indians have ever overcome in the postseason, with the 13-inning affair matching the longest postseason game in franchise history.
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