CLEVELAND — There’s good news on the Edwin Encarnacion injury front.
Encarnacion, who sustained what looked like a serious right ankle injury in Game 2 on Friday, is not expected to be replaced on the ALDS roster.
Encarnacion likely won’t be in the lineup for Game 3 tonight, but could be available off the bench in a pinch-hitting role.
“He is, I would say, I don’t know if remarkably better is a good word, but pretty close,” Francona said. “He’s doing much better today. I don’t think he’s going to start (in Game 3), but he’s not been ruled out either. So we’ll take our time and allow to him continue to get treatment. But if he’s that close to being available, that’s a really good sign. So we’re obviously not going to do anything roster-wise.”
Encarnacion left Game 2 in the first inning when he turned his ankle stepping on second base in an attempt to avoid a double play and immediately fell to the ground and writhed in pain.
He needed assistance to leave the field and was seen leaving the clubhouse on crutches and in a walking boot.
Encarnacion was replaced Friday by Michael Brantley, who is expected to start at DH in Game 3.
“Obviously, he’s a very productive hitter and he’s been a productive home run hitter for a long, long time,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of Encarnacion. “He hits right-handers and left-handers. We’re probably going to see Brantley (tonight), who is a very good hitter in his own right. So, yeah, it’s going to change their lineup, but they’re putting in a very good hitter to replace him, I’m sure.”
Wahoo, what a game
Overcoming adversity has been a trademark of the Indians, who did it again in Game 2 on Friday, erasing their largest deficit in postseason history — five runs — while matching their longest postseason game ever with a 9-8, 13-inning victory.
“We were down 8-3 but there was never a down moment with this team,” left fielder Austin Jackson said. “The crowd was still into it and we were patting each other on the back, telling everybody not to give up. We kept chipping away and chipping away. That’s postseason baseball. This is the time of year when stuff like this happens.”
There were a number of pivotal moments throughout one of the most memorable postseason games in franchise history.
“There were so many big plays, do-or-die plays,” closer Cody Allen said. “The back pickoff (of pinch runner Ronald Torreyes by catcher Yan Gomes in the 11th inning), the grand slam (from Francisco Lindor in the sixth). There were quite a few that if any of them didn’t go our way, we wouldn’t have won the game.
“It was definitely our home-field advantage.”
As spring training wound down, the Indians had to decide whether or not to add Jackson, an oft-injured veteran outfielder, to the Opening Day roster.
They made the right choice.
Jackson, 30, exceeded expectations during the regular season, batting .318 with seven homers and 35 RBIs in 85 games. He was a factor in Game 2, drawing a leadoff walk, stealing second and scoring the winning run on Gomes’ walk-off single in the 13th.
With the Indians outfield enduring a wealth of injuries, Francona has said on multiple occasions that Jackson has saved his club’s “butt.”
“He had done such a good job (during the exhibition season) that I think we felt like this is a guy, being a veteran leader-type guy he is, and a right-handed bat, whether he’s playing against lefties or whatever could really be a good fit on our team,” said Francona of Jackson, who has played for five teams over eight-plus season in the majors. “And every time — he got hurt twice, and then all the other guys got hurt, and he came back and just fit right in and played against righties and lefties and did a terrific job.”
Health issues have sidetracked Jackson, a projected star early in his career, who has been on the disabled list six times since 2012.
“It’s been great to really get back out on the field in general,” Jackson said. “When you’re sitting at home watching the postseason and rehabbing and trying to get yourself back healthy to show that you can still play, you know, it’s definitely rewarding when you’re able to make a team and contribute and step in when guys are hurt and just fill in that role.”
Start times for the final two games of the series — if necessary — have been announced. Game 4 at Yankee Stadium on Monday is scheduled for 7:08 p.m, while Game 5 in Cleveland on Wednesday is set for 8:08 p.m.
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