CLEVELAND – In what can only be described as pure bedlam, the Cleveland Indians somehow pulled out a wild, back-and-forth thriller 9-8 in 13 innings over the New York Yankees in Game 2 of the American League Division Series on Friday night at Progressive Field.
Ace Corey Kluber was rocked and couldn't get out of the third inning, Edwin Encarnacion left the game in the second inning with an injury and the Indians at one point trailed 8-3. Seemingly headed for a momentum-shifting loss that would have evened the series, the Indians came charging back with two mammoth home runs before Yan Gomes hit a walk-off single in the 13th, all against the vaunted Yankees bullpen.
The victory gave the Indians a commanding 2-0 ALDS lead as the series turns to Yankee Stadium for Game 3 Sunday night.
"I'm not good at ranking, but it was an honor to be part of this game," Indians manager Terry Francona said.
Trailing 8-3 in the sixth and with Chad Green on the mound, the Indians loaded the bases for the third time. Then, a rainy, frustrating night that seemed headed toward a tied series was turned on its head.
With two outs and Green nearly out of the inning, Francisco Lindor squared up the next pitch and sent a high, arcing shot down the right-field line. The ball clanged off the right-field foul pole for a grand slam to cut the Yankees' lead to 8-7 and turn Progressive Field into pandemonium.
"It hit the inside of the pole," Lindor said. "I was surprised, I thought it had a little room to spare."
Two innings later, with David Robertson on the mound, Jay Bruce burned the Yankees for the second consecutive night, belting a solo home run to left-center field to tie it 8-8.
As the comeback mounted, Bryan Shaw threw 2 2/3 scoreless innings and Andrew Miller, Joe Smith and Cody Allen did the rest to hold the Yankees down and extend the game into extra innings. The game lasted so long, the Indians had to turn to Josh Tomlin, their scheduled Game 4 starter, in the 12th inning.
In the 10th, though, it was Gomes who came up with a superb play to keep it tied. An error on Erik Gonzalez put the go-ahead run on second base with nobody out. Gomes, on a pick-off snap throw from his knees, nabbed Ronald Torreyes diving back to the bag to erase the potential go-ahead run.
The Indians finished it in the 13th as the marathon game passed the five-hour mark. With Dellin Betances on the mound, Austin Jackson drew a walk and then stole second base, putting the winning run in scoring position with nobody out.
"We certainly weren't knocking Betances out of the ballpark, but he has given up some stolen bases," Jackson said.
Gomes followed by ripping a ball down the left-field line to easily score Jackson and cap one of the most memorable games in Indians postseason history.
One night after Trevor Bauer took a no-hitter into the sixth inning in the Indians' 4-0 win in Game 1, Kluber was unexpectedly roughed up for six earned runs in 2 2/3 innings. It represented more earned runs than he gave up in all of September, and was only one run shy of how many he gave up in last year's postseason.
"Guys that he's handled in the past, obviously the Hicks home run was a huge blow," Francona said of Kluber's struggles. "He was fighting his mechanics from the get-go."
It didn't take long for the Yankees to strike. Kluber struggled with his command in the first inning, walking Aaron Judge and then falling behind Gary Sanchez 3-1. Sanchez then crushed the next pitch for a two-run home run to put the Yankees on top.
The Indians effectively wiped out that home run in the bottom half of the inning, but it might have come at a great cost affecting much more than just Game 2. An error, a walk and a hit-by-pitch loaded the bases with one out against Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia.
Carlos Santana lined a single into left-center field to tie it, in part because of a head-first slide by Jose Ramirez to beat the throw home.
Bruce then lined a ball to shortstop Didi Gregorius, who caught it for the second out, and raced Encarnacion back to the bag. As Encarnacion attempted to step on the bag, he came up a bit short and badly turned his ankle. He was down on the ground for several moments grimacing in pain before being helped off the field.
It was announced as a sprained ankle, but he will have to be evaluated further.
"We were definitely feeling bad for Eddie. That definitely didn't look good," Gomes said. "I just talked to him and he said he was fine. The morale in our dugout didn't change at all. No one is going to feel sorry for us."
The Indians retook the lead in the second inning after loading the bases yet again. This time, Jason Kipnis shot a ball into left field to score Jackson and give the Indians a 3-2 lead.
The Yankees, though, continued to pour it on. Starlin Castro singled home a run to tie it 3-3 in the third and, two batters later, Aaron Hicks belted a three-run home run to put the Yankees on top 6-3, end Kluber's night and stun the home crowd.
Greg Bird added a two-run home run off Mike Clevinger in the fifth, extending the Yankees' lead to 8-3.
That, though, only set the stage for Lindor's grand slam, Bruce's solo shot and Gomes' game winner to pull off the wild comeback.
"We don't just believe in one or two guys," Francona said. "We believe in our entire team, and it took the entire team to win that game."