SportsPulse: From Nationals Park, Trysta Krick and Steve Gardner break down what went wrong for the Nationals in a night Stephen Strasburg pitched well enough to win, and look at how Friday’s earlier ALDS games played out.
USA TODAY Sports
Five takeaways from the Cleveland Indians’ 9-8 victory over the New York Yankees in 13 innings on Friday night, in Game 2 of their American League Division Series at Progressive Field in Cleveland:
Everything went wrong for the Indians early.
Designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion sprained his right ankle at the end of the first inning when sliding back to second base.
Ace Corey Kluber failed to get past the third inning. The likely AL Cy Young Award winner was tagged for six runs in 2 2/3 innings and the Indians’ deficit grew to 8-3 when reliever Mike Clevinger served up a two-run home run to Greg Bird in the fourth.
They persisted: Indians erase big deficit, walk off Yankees in 13th
Cubs topple Nationals: Beat a dominant Strasburg in Game 1
Nationals coach suspended: Jacque Jones faces lawsuit for alleged revenge porn
Yet the Indians rallied as Francisco Lindor’s grand slam in the sixth inning made it a one-run game, Jay Bruce’s solo home run in the eighth tied it and Yan Gomes’ RBI single in the 13th won it.
The Indians lead 2-0 in the best-of-five series.
“We don’t believe in one or two guys,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “We believe in our entire team and it took an entire team to win that game. There were so many things that happened that, if we don’t do one of them, we probably lose.”
Bullpen is back
The Indians rode their bullpen all the way to Game 7 of last year’s World Series before losing to the Chicago Cubs in 10 innings. The relievers have been just as good early in this postseason, allowing two runs – on Bird’s homer – in 12 innings.
Bryan Shaw, Andrew Miller, Joe Smith, Cody Allen and Josh Tomlin combined to pitch 8 2/3 innings to finish off Game 2.
“We can just bring so many good relievers out of the ‘pen that it’s pretty unbelievable,” said Gomes, the Indians’ catcher.
Brantley next up?
It was surprising that the Indians said Encarnacion was day-to-day because it looked like he had suffered a gruesome injury with the way his ankle turned when hitting the bag.
Another player plagued by a sprained ankle late in the season, All-Star outfielder Michael Brantley, replaced Encarnacion and went 0-for-5 with two strikeouts. Brantley was on the disabled list from Aug. 9-Sept. 29 before returning for the final two games of the regular season.
Encarnacion hit 37 home runs and drove in 108 runs, meaning he could potentially leave a big hole in the lineup. Brantley batted .299 with nine homers in 90 games.
Yankees starter CC Sabathia settled down after allowing three runs in the first two innings, retiring 11 straight batters at one point. However, manager Joe Girardi lifted the 37-year-old left-hander with one out in the sixth inning, a runner on first base and the Yankees ahead 8-3.
The move turned out to be disastrous. Chad Green relieved, the Indians eventually loaded the bases and Lindor hit his slam high off the right-field foul pole.
“It’s kind of what we’ve done all year with Green,” Girardi said. “It was set up for Green to come in and I decided to go with him. Usually, we give CC somewhere around 90 pitches. He was at 80 and it was set up for our bullpen. I went there and it didn’t work.”
Tanaka still the choice
Luis Severino was the Yankees’ best starting pitcher in the regular season as the 23-year-old was 14-6 with a 2.98 ERA in 31 games. Yet faced with an elimination game Sunday night in Game 3 at Yankee Stadium, Girardi is sticking with his plan to start right-hander Masahiro Tanaka.
Severino would be working on his regular four days’ rest Sunday. However, the Yankees seem hesitant to put him in another high-pressure situation after he retired only one of the six batters he faced Tuesday night in their victory over the Minnesota Twins in the winner-take-all wild card.
Tanaka was 13-12 with a 4.74 ERA in 30 regular-season starts.
GALLERY: Best of the 2017 postseason