CLEVELAND, OHIO — Neither rain nor gale-force wind nor pinch-running Tyler Wade for Luke Voit could prevent the New York Yankees from advancing past the Cleveland Indians into the ALDS. There were many twists in Game 2 of their AL Wild Card Series. Yet the Yankees had an answer at essentially every turn, winning 10-9 and securing the sweep.
Why someone at MLB didn’t download Suzyn Waldman’s weather app is beyond me? Game 2 was initially delayed from 7 p.m. to 7:50 p.m., even though it wasn’t raining much, if at all. Then the Yankees batted once and Masahiro Tanaka tossed 11 pitches through the wind and rain before allowing an RBI-double to right to Jose Ramirez before the game was stopped again for another rain delay. Unreal.
Following the delay, Tanaka was able to return but still looked more like the regular season “battle Tanaka” than “playoff Tanaka.” Tanaka yielded a two-run double to Josh Naylor and a Roberto Perez RBI-single that ate up Gleyber Torres at shortstop. The early 4-0 deficit was more runs than Tanaka had allowed in his prior three postseason outings.
Giancarlo Stanton had an answer for Carlos Carrasco in the second stanza. Stanton smoked one 420 to right and the Bronx Bombers were on the board.
As JJ pointed out on the George’s Box podcast, it was only a matter of time for Gio Urshela’s revenge tour against the Indians. During the fourth frame, Urshela’s redemption song was sweet.
The weather which impacted the Yankees early affected the Indians. Aaron Hicks launched a triple above the head of Delino DeShields in center, who lost his footing. Voit and Stanton followed with free passes and Carrasco’s evening was done.
Entering the game was James Karinchak, wearing No. 99 and sporting Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn’s haircut but he was more like “Vile Thing.”
The ensuring batter Urshela took Karinchak deep into Lake Erie with a grand slam to left, posting the Bronx Bombers to a 5-4 edge. Urshela’s was the first grand slam by a Yankee third baseman in the postseason.
New York kept its foot on the gas in the fifth frame. Facing Phil Maton, Hicks walked, Voit doubled to center and Stanton lifted a sac fly to right to increase the lead to 6-4.
LEAD OVERTHROWN AWAY
In the home half of the fifth frame, Francisco Lindor doubled to right and Cesar Hernandez walked and an underwhelming Tanaka walked off stage left. Chad Green entered to extinguish the fire but could not do so. Ramirez drilled a two-run double to right, the second run scored on a high relay throw from DJ LeMahieu, tying the contest at six.
THE ANSWER MY FRIEND IS BLOWIN’ IN THE WIND
Luckily the Yankees had another answer. Following a brilliant nine-pitch leadoff walk by Brett Gardner against Triston McKenzie in the sixth inning, Gary Sanchez cracked a soaring drive to right, seemingly innocuous but landed in the seats at the Yankees regained the lead at 8-6.
During the home half of the sixth, a relief pitching move worked out for Aaron Boone, albeit likely earlier than he wanted. With two on and one out, Boone called upon Zack Britton to replace Green. Britton coaxed Lindor into a 5-4-3 double play started by Urshela.
Yet, in the seventh, there were a couple of dubious moves made by both clubs. The Yankees pinch ran Wade for Voit in the top half of the frame. In the bottom half, with two out and two on, Sandy Alomar Jr. lifted Naylor for Jordan Luplow. Boone countered by calling on Jonathan Loaisiga. Luplow proceeded to smack a game-tying two-run double to center.
MOVE COMES BACK TO BITE THEM
In the eighth, the Yankees had two on and two out against Nick Wittgren. When Voit’s or rather now Wade’s spot came around in the order, Boone sent Clint Frazier up to the plate to pinch-hit. Frazier would strikeout to end the threat. Hence, Boone burned Voit for essentially one inning of Wade. Yikes.
Then Loaisiga was marched out for the bottom of the eighth because apparently and understandably Adam Ottavino is out of the circle of trust. Following consecutive free passes to DeShields and Lindor, Loaisiga was lifted for Aroldis Chapman. Chapman yielded an RBI-single to Hernandez to give Cleveland a 9-8 lead. Following a Chapman strikeout of Ramiez, a dazzling play by Urshela turned an inning-ending double play and kept the game manageable.
Facing Tribe closer Brad Hand in the ninth inning, the Yankees targeted that up the middle sweet spot. Stanton set the table with a walk and gave way to pinch-runner Mike Tauchman. Urshela single up the middle ala Luis Sojo. Torres hit a ball back to the mound that Hand couldn’t handle as Torres was credited with a single to load the bases. After Gardner struck out, Sanchez lifted a sac fly RBI to center to tie the game at nine. The ensuing batter LeMahieu singled back up the box for the go-ahead eventual 10-9 winner.
Chapman needed four outs but got the job done. Franmil Reyes whiffed. Luplow grounded out to shortstop. Oscar Mercado struck out but reached on a third strike passed ball by Sanchez. Yet, Chapman got pinch-hitter, Austin Hedges, swinging for the final out.