CLEVELAND -- The Yankees knocked out American League Cy Young Award candidate Corey Kluber early. The Indians lost slugger Edwin Encarnacion to a right ankle injury in the first inning. Yet, the Tribe still found a way. Overcoming obstacles has become kind of a trademark for this club.
Yan Gomes' RBI single to left field in the 13th inning scored Austin Jackson as the Indians rallied for a thrilling 9-8 walk-off win to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-five AL Division Series presented by Doosan. Game 3 is set for tonight at 7:30 p.m. ET on FS1 at Yankee Stadium.
"That was what you call October baseball right there," Gomes said. "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."
This one had a little bit of everything, making for a memorable Game 2. The fans shook Progressive Field when Gomes finally brought an end to the evening with his hit down the third-base line off Yanks reliever Dellin Betances, who was in his third inning of relief.
"It's the playoffs. I'm trying to go out there and do the best I can for as long as I can," Betances said. "That last inning, I was trying to make some pitches. It was a good hit by Yan Gomes there. We've been fighting back all year. We're going home, so now we've just got to play good ball at home."
After Jackson scored from second, fireworks popped overhead and the Indians' players swarmed Gomes in a mob scene on the field. It marked the team's first walk-off win in the playoffs since Travis Hafner came through in the famous "Bug Game" against the Yankees in Game 2 of the 2007 ALDS.
"The fight that this team has is unreal," Jackson said. "It just seemed like when we were down, it wasn't a down moment. The crowd was still into it, and that definitely pumped us up a lot."
The comeback was ignited by an improbable grand slam from Francisco Lindor in the sixth. After crossing home plate following his blast off strikeout artist Chad Green, Lindor pounded his chest and screamed for more from his already deafening audience. More was coming -- a lot more.
"We don't just believe in one or two guys," Indians 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."
Lindor's slam cut the Yanks' lead to 8-7, energized a crowd that had been quieted by some troubling developments earlier in the night and paved the way for the Tribe's game-winning push. Jay Bruce -- the club's offensive hero in Game 1 -- delivered a game-tying opposite-field blast off David Robertson in the eighth, raising the decibel level higher.
"I was trying to get a good pitch to drive," Lindor said. "It didn't matter whether it was a home run or base hit or double or whatever. I'm just trying to give my teammates a chance to win. As soon as I saw it go up, I knew it had a chance to go out. But then I was like, 'Uh oh, it might go foul.' I started blowing on it, and it came back and hit the foul pole."
From there, the Indians and Yankees traded zeros into extra innings, with Cleveland setting a club record for pitchers used (eight) in a single postseason game.
That back-and-forth contest eventually ended with Gomes' heroics, which came after Jackson led off with a walk and stole second to set up the decisive run.
"We certainly weren't knocking Betances all over the ballpark," Francona said. "But he has given up some stolen bases. And if we try to bunt him to second, we've got our backup third baseman [Erik Gonzalez batting next]. So that was the idea, and [Jackson] did a great job. And I thought Gomer fought through that at-bat the whole way."
The Indians head to Game 3 with Carlos Carrasco slated to start against Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka. In Division Series history, teams up 2-0 have gone on to win the series 49 out of 56 times.
The Yanks' plan against Kluber was to force the ace to toil in deep counts and then hit his mistakes, a task which proved to be easier said than done during the pitcher's sterling regular season. Gary Sanchez and Aaron Hicks succeeded, each belting a home run off Kluber to send him to the showers after arguably the worst start of his career.
"I just didn't have good command," Kluber said. "I didn't execute pitches well. I threw way too many balls, and it seemed like when I did throw strikes, they were right over the heart of the plate."
Sanchez launched a two-run homer in the first and Hicks belted a three-run shot in the third, ending Kluber's night at 2 2/3 innings. The right-hander was charged with six runs, representing the most he has given up in a start lasting fewer than three frames.
CC Sabathia tried to settle into his usual role as the team's stopper, retiring 10 straight through one stretch and ending with two earned runs allowed (four runs overall) in 5 1/3 frames. Making matters worse for the Indians, cleanup hitter Encarnacion hobbled off with a right ankle sprain sustained while sliding back into second base in the opening inning.
Greg Bird padded New York's lead in the fifth inning with the first postseason homer of his career: A two-run shot off Mike Clevinger to put the Yankees up, 8-3.
"They're a great team. You never know," Bird said. "At 8-3, we were comfortable with that and we felt confident, but anything can happen. There was still a lot of game left."
In a cruel twist for the Yanks, it was their stalwart 'pen that flinched.
"The way everyone battled and everyone got together," Lindor said, "that was pretty special to watch, and one of the most amazing experiences of my life."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Don't wander on Yan: The Yankees had an opportunistic start to the 11th inning, when Todd Frazier reached second on an errant throw by Gonzalez on a leadoff grounder. One pitch later, catcher Gomes snapped a throw to second, where Lindor swiftly applied the tag on pinch-runner Ronald Torreyes for a crucial out. Torreyes was initially ruled safe, but the call was overturned after a managerial challenge by the Tribe. The pop time on Gomes' throw was 1.88 seconds, according to Statcast™. More >.
"The understatement of the year would be to say that there was a lot going on in that game," Francona said. "Gonzy kind of launched one, and Gomer picked him up. That's what good teams do. That was a great play. It looked like we had him by about an inch, but that was enough."
"I was trying to be aggressive there," Torreyes said through an interpreter. "I wanted to make sure that I had a good lead. I tried to get back, I did everything I could to get back as fast as I could. But I couldn't make it."
Great escape: Cleveland had Sabathia on the ropes in the second inning after Jason Kipnis lined a run-scoring single to left field, with the bases remaining loaded and just one out. With Green warming in the bullpen, Sabathia was able to walk the tightrope without falling off, getting Jose Ramirez to foul out and then striking out Michael Brantley, who entered the game in Encarnacion's vacated DH spot.
Pinch and a slam: Yankees manager Joe Girardi visited the mound for the second time in the sixth inning after Gomes mashed a 1-2 pitch off the left-field wall, then the skipper elected to keep Green in to face Chisenhall. Green's 0-2 pitch to Chisenhall was up and in, and home-plate umpire Dan Iassogna signaled that Chisenhall had been hit. The Yanks declined to challenge the call despite Sanchez's urging, but TV replays suggested the pitch hit the knob of Chisenhall's bat for what would've been an inning-ending foul-tip strikeout. Two pitches later, Lindor hit the fifth grand slam in Indians postseason history.
"I was just trying to throw a backdoor breaking ball and yanked it a little bit," Green said. "That's why he's one of the best hitters in the game. Right there, I just didn't execute."
Smith comes through: Frazier opened the top of the ninth with an infield single off Andrew Miller and a sacrifice advanced the potential go-ahead run into scoring position. Joe Smith relieved Miller and retired Aaron Judge on a groundout, helped by Gonzalez's slick play at third, then struck out Sanchez looking to pin the run 90 feet away.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS Josh Tomlin was the Indians' eighth pitcher of the night, setting a franchise postseason record for a single game. The all-time record for pitchers used by any team in a playoff game is nine, done four times.
The five-run deficit was the largest come-from-behind win in Indians postseason history. The game tied the longest in playoff history for the Tribe, which also played 13 frames in Game 1 of the 1995 ALDS against the Red Sox.
ENCARNACION EXITS WITH INJURY
The roar that filled Progressive Field after Santana's single in the first inning was quickly quieted one play later, when Encarnacion sustained his right ankle injury. On Bruce's lineout to shortstop Didi Gregorius, Encarnacion retreated to second base, but he rolled his ankle on the bag before tumbling to the dirt. Encarnacion was in immediate pain and called for a trainer. After the win, Francona said the designated hitter is deemed day to day. More >
"He went and got an MRI," Francona said. "And the results came back that he has, obviously, an ankle sprain. The severity of it, it's going to depend on how he feels. Right now, they say he's day to day, which if that's the case, that would be tremendous. So we don't have to do anything. We'll see how he shows up [Saturday]. We obviously don't want to rush into putting him on a DL."
While the Indians' medical staff tended to Encarnacion, the Yankees challenged that he was safe at second. The ruling was overturned via replay review, resulting in a double play that ended Cleveland's rally. Encarnacion was then helped off the field, and he struggled to put much weight on his sprained ankle.
The Yankees used a managerial challenge in the bottom of the 10th inning after Jackson was awarded second base on an infield hit, with Aroldis Chapman's off-balance throw having been touched by a photographer in the first-base photo well. After review, the call on the field was confirmed and Jackson remained at second base.
WHAT'S NEXT Yankees: Tanaka (13-12, 4.79 ERA in 2017) will start Game 3 for the Yanks tonight at 7:30 p.m. ET at Yankee Stadium. Tanaka was 9-5 with a 3.22 ERA in 15 home starts this season, and he is coming off a career-high 15 strikeouts vs. the Blue Jays in his regular-season finale.
Indians: Following Saturday's workout day in the Bronx, the Indians will hand the ball to Carrasco (18-6, 3.29 in 2017) for Game 3 tonight against the Yankees. Carrasco went 11-2 with a 2.65 ERA on the road this season, and he is 3-1 with a 1.40 ERA in four career outings at Yankee Stadium.