Despite the impressive display of offense shown by baseball teams throughout the postseason already, Masahiro Tanaka and Carlos Carrasco locked horns in a pitchers' duel for most of Game 3 of the ALDS presented by Doosan on Sunday night between the Yankees and Indians. Tanaka threw seven shutout innings and Carrasco kept the Yankees off the scoreboard for 5 2/3, with Andrew Miller helping him escape a jam in the sixth inning.
When Miller returned in the bottom of the seventh, though, he had to face Greg Bird. The Yankees first baseman missed most of 2017 with a foot injury, and while power is a big part of his game, a homer off Miller seemed unlikely. Only one lefty had taken Miller deep all year -- Cody Bellinger on June 13.
Then, Bird connected, blasting a ball deep into the New York night for a solo shot. He knew it was gone, too, shouting as he ran up the first-base line:
That dinger turned out to be the game's only run, as the Yankees stayed alive with a heart-pounding 1-0 victory. Joe Girardi could have pinch-hit a right-handed hitter for Bird, but he stuck with the player who fought so hard to return to the team. "Just the way he played in the playoffs and the way he finished up the year, I felt really good," Girardi said after the game. "It's great to have him back healthy. It sure is."
If the normally reserved Bird was that excited by his own homer, you can bet his teammates were going nuts, too. Just ask Aaron Judge and CC Sabathia:
That's playoff baseball at its finest. Bird talked about the moment postgame.
"The excitement's for our team and the guys in the clubhouse. Just sharing that with them and getting fired up with them and helping this team win games, really, is huge. I was really excited. I'm not gonna lie."
"But that excitement is for our team, and for the guys in there that have been working their butts off all year. For Masa, for Judge, for everyone that was out there, for everyone that was on the bench and for our fans, really. It was just an incredible experience, an incredible game, and we're not done. So that's the best part of it too is we get to keep this thing going and keep playing baseball."
Tune in to see what's next in ALDS Game 4: Monday, 7 p.m. ET on FS1.