Published On: Thu, Oct 12th, 2017

Yankees complete comeback to advance to ALCS

CLEVELAND—They stood in different spots of a mostly silent visitors’ clubhouse here Friday night after as crushing a loss as is imaginable.

To a man, players repeated a form of the same declaration.

We can do this. For some, even we will do this.

“We’ve won three games in a row before,” David Robertson said.

Somehow, against the best the American League had to offer, the Yankees did.

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Sparked by two Didi Gregorius homers off Corey Kluber, nine strikeouts from sage left-hander CC Sabathia and 4 2/3 brilliant innings by a bullpen that was the gold standard of the American League, the Yankees completed their comeback from an 0-2 series hole, defeating the Indians 5-2 in Game 5 of the ALDS in front of 37,802 disappointed fans at Progressive Field.

The Yankees added two runs in the ninth off closer Cody Allen. Brett Gardner’s single on a 3-and-2 pitch drove home Aaron Hicks, and Todd Frazier scored after the throw short-hopped shortstop Francisco Lindor and bounced away.

The Yankees, who earned their first trip to the ALCS since 2012, face the Astros in Game 1 Friday night in Houston.

Kluber lasted fewer than four innings in exactly one of his 29 starts this regular season, in which he went 18-4 with a 2.25 ERA. He lasted 2 2/3 innings of Game 2 and just 3 2/3 in Game 5.

Gregorius, who set a franchise record for homers by a shortstop with 25 this season, quickly deflated the crowd with a first-inning solo homer. He did further damage to their collective attitude with a two-run blast in the third that made it 3-0.

Gregorius joined Yogi Berra (Game 7 of the 1956 World Series) and Jason Giambi (Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS) as the only Yankees to hit two home runs in an elimination game.

Sabathia, the 37-year-old left-hander, was perfect through three and retired 13 of the first 14 he faced. He struck out six of his first nine batters and had a no-hitter through three innings. But after four straight singles with one out in the fifth made it 3-2, Joe Girardi brought on Robertson. The righty got an inning-ending, double-play ball off the bat of Francisco Lindor, whose grand slam turned Game 2 around.

Robertson struck out two in 2 2/3 hitless innings, turning things over to Aroldis Chapman. The closer, who posted a 0.61 ERA over his last 14 appearances of the regular season, struck out four over the final two innings for the save.

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Yankees complete comeback to advance to ALCS