Yankees head to ALDS after wild Game 2 comeback in Cleveland

Gio Urshela
New York Yankees third baseman Gio Urshela (29) watches his grand slam in the fourth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Cardiologists in the tri-state area will have busy days ahead as the New York Yankees won an electrifying, blood-pressure-raising, 10-9 Wild Card Series-clinching game-of-the-year candidate against the Cleveland Indians Wednesday night into the early hours of Thursday.

It was a night that featured everything: a dramatic comeback by way of a Gio Urshela grand slam, designated hitter Giancarlo Stanton, and catcher Gary Sanchez coming alive for some of their most clutch postseason moments, and to add more fun, there was even a second come-from-behind rally in the ninth inning.

Game 2 didn’t even begin until about fifty minutes after the planned 7:08 p.m. ET first pitch due to some rather heavy inclement rain from Mother Nature herself; though Major League Baseball still began despite a steady rain flow still coming down at Progressive Field nearing 8:00 p.m.

Opposite of Tuesday night, starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco put the Yankees down in order, striking out both outfielders Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks to things off on a damp diamond. 

The rain worsened into monsoon-like conditions as Masahiro Tanaka took the mound, surrendering an RBI double to third baseman Jose Ramirez in a highly questionable environment to even be playing in. Nevertheless, the game’s officiating crew called a second rain delay after the Tribe took a 1-0 lead.

Sep 30, 2020; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Second base umpire Jerry Meals (41) watches as first base umpire Jeff Nelson (45) waves the players off the field during a rain delay in the first inning at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The game resumed about 30 minutes later with Tanaka retaking the mound only to surrender another three off a two run-double by outfielder Josh Naylor and an RBI single by catcher Roberto Perez, which was misplayed by shortstop Gleyber Torres as a drizzle of rain continued onto Progressive Field during the 4-0 game.

Stanton had a fast answer to Cleveland’s offense with a 420-foot solo home run to right field, cutting the Tribe’s lead to 4-1 in the second frame.

Hicks led off the fourth inning with a standup triple, which was followed by Carrasco walking both first baseman Luke Voit and Stanton, setting up third baseman and former Clevelander Gio Urshela to bat in the no-out, bases-loaded scenario. 

The Indians called on reliever James Karinchak to face Urshela, but it was the wrong move as the Yankee hero mashed a grand slam into the left-centerfield bleachers, putting the Yankees up 5-4.

Sep 30, 2020; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Players celebrate a grand slam by New York Yankees third baseman Gio Urshela (29) in the fourth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees added on to the tally in the fifth when Hicks walked and moved to third on a Voit double, setting up Stanton to send a sac-fly to right field, putting the Bombers up 6-4.

Tanaka left the game in fifth after letting two on as Ramirez came to the plate, facing righty reliever Chad Green with no outs. He came up big for the Tribe with a game-tying, go-ahead triple to knot the score at six apiece.

Green finished the inning solid, pitching out two and getting Naylor to pop out, stranding Ramirez at third base.

Tanaka was given all six runs on his line, along with five hits and three strikeouts.

Cleveland debuted righty Triston McKenzie to start the sixth inning, where he walked Gardner and allowed a two-run shot to Sanchez which put the Bombers up 8-6.

 Green ran into trouble in the bottom of the sixth, letting runners on first and second with one out, pushing manager Aaron Boone into calling lefty Zack Britton for relief.

He forced shortstop Francisco Lindor into a double play to bail out the Yankees with no harm done.

McKenzie walked Voit, who was replaced by Tyler Wade on the base path and Torres later nabbed an infield single that was miscued by Ramirez with two outs in the seventh, which ended the rookie’s night on the mound.

Righty Nick Wittgren then came on to strike out Gardner to get a crucial third out for Cleveland as the score remained 8-6 Yanks.

Second baseman DJ LeMahieu shifted to first base as Wade took second for the bottom of the seventh inning, a frame where Britton walked two in a row with two outs as Naylor sat ready to hit on deck representing the leading run.

Though in an apparent move to get Britton out of the game, Cleveland pinch-hit for the red hot left fielder with Jordan Luplow instead.

The move worked as righty Jonathan Loaisiga surrendered a game-tying double to Luplow, hitting Perez in the next at-bat before getting an inning-ending grounder from outfielder Tyler Naquin.

Wittgren walked both LeMahieu and Judge with one out in the eighth, where he next faced Hicks who hit into a fielder’s choice that got Judge out at second base.

Clint Frazier came in to pinch hit for Wade but struck out to end the inning.

Mike Ford came in to play first base, LeMahieu moved back to second, and Loaisiga returned to pitch the eighth inning where he walked two with no outs, setting up Aroldis Chapman for an early save.

Chapman first faced second baseman Cesar Hernandez, who hit an RBI single which gave Cleveland a 9-8 lead.

Urshela later turned a double play on first baseman Carlos Santana, which ended the eighth with the Yankees down only a run as Stanton led off against lefty closer Brad Hand to start the ninth inning.

Stanton walked and was replaced by Mike Tauchman on first as Urshela came to the plate representing the leading run, scooping a low 0-2 pitch into centerfield for a single, putting runners on first and second for Torres.

Torres hit another dribbler in the infield, this time back to Hand who misplayed the bobble and inadvertently loaded the bases for Gardner with no outs.

Gardner struck out, but Sanchez sent a game tying, sac fly to center field to make it a 9-9 game with two outs in the final inning of regulation.

A hitless LeMahieu batted after with runners on first and second, where he sent the go-ahead run in with an 0-2 double up the gap, putting runners on second and third for Judge as Hand’s night was over.

Sep 30, 2020; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; New York Yankees second baseman DJ LeMahieu (26) celebrates his RBI single in the ninth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Righty Cal Quantrill walked Judge and reloaded the bases for Hicks, who struck out to end the inning with the Yankees ahead 10-9.

Chapman struck out DH Franmil Reyes to start the ninth inning, then pushed Luplow into a ground out, as pinch hitter Oscar Mercado batted with the Tribe’s season on his bat.

He advanced to first on a passed third strike, brining the leading run to the plate in fellow pinch hitter Austin Hedges with two outs. Chapman punched final out over the plate on an appealed swinging strike three, sealing the Yankees two of three Wild Card sweep in what easily was the game of the year.

Sep 30, 2020; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge (99) celebrates a win over the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Come next week, the Yankees have a best-of-five date with the Tampa Bay Rays in San Diego for the American League Divisional Series.