Yankees Have Brought The Indians Crashing Back To Reality

The Sinatra sing-along had a little more juice this time around. The 27th out, a fastball that Tommy Kahnle whipped past Lonnie Chisenhall, was greeted with an extra dash of thunder. The walk back to the parking lot didn’t seem quite as melancholy; suddenly it seemed this might not be the last such walk of the season.

A funny thing happened these last two nights at Yankee Stadium. The Cleveland Indians, who had been virtually unbeatable, practically bulletproof, for more than a month, lost a layer or two of that confident veneer. The bats, among the noisiest in baseball, were quieted. The gloves sprang a few leaks.

The swagger that fueled them through all the winning? You had to squint to see any.

A funnier thing happened these last two nights at Yankee Stadium. Instead of feeling sorry for themselves after blowing a five-run lead in Game 2, the Yankees got after the Indians. Greg Bird clobbered the only ball that mattered Sunday. On Monday, they made Cleveland pay for every mistake — and there were plenty. And for a second straight night, they received a pitching performance to take your breath away.

Here’s the funniest thing that happened these last two nights at Yankee Stadium:

The Yankees, left for dead Saturday morning, are alive, and they are well, and they will take their chances at a win-or-be-gone Game 5 Wednesday night in Cleveland after this 7-3 victory that tied the American League Division Series at two games apiece.

“There’s a lot of confidence in that room right now,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “There’s a lot of guys who pick each other up and grind out at-bats, pitchers who make big pitches. It ought to be a lot of fun on Wednesday.”

If surviving three elimination games in seven days is their idea of “fun,” then they’re in an even better place walking into Wednesday’s cauldron than they seem. That’s a long stretch of hard road to navigate, but it really is starting to look like these Yankees are at their very best when things seem at their grimmest. This time around it was Luis Severino who suffocated the Indians’ bats, throwing seven superb innings, allowing three runs.

On Severino’s 110th pitch of the night, he threw the ball 100 mph. We saw that a lot during the regular season, but it’s one thing to air it out against the White Sox on a breezy night in June, something else entirely to do that against the defending American League champs in the emotional sauna of October. Six nights after lasting only a third of an inning against the Twins in the wild-card play-in game, no less.

“He grew up a lot today,” Girardi marveled.

“It was important for me,” Severino said, “that I pitched well.”

On offense it was Todd Frazier, Aaron Hicks and Aaron Judge who ignited a four-run outburst in the second inning against Trevor Bauer, who’d looked as invulnerable as Jack Bauer in Game 1 but wasn’t nearly as sharp this time around. All four of those runs were unearned, six of the seven total, a sign that maybe the Indians are starting to feel a little of the strain of expectations.

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Tommy Kahnle (right) hugs catcher Gary Sanchez.AP

Which they should, let’s be honest. In the space of 24 hours, they went from running away and hiding from the Yankees to having more than a couple of their nooks, crannies, crevices and weaknesses exposed for public debate.

“We made it hard on ourselves to win all night,” Indians manager Terry Francona lamented. He might have been in an even fouler mood if he knew the Indians are now 3-16 in their last 19 postseason close-out games, a stretch that dates back a decade and will certainly be embedded somewhere in the collective mood in Ohio Wednesday night.

Of course, they do have Corey Kluber saved for Game 5, and if you’re going to play one game for your life in the American League in 2017, Kluber is the one you want on the mound. Still, by the time the Yankees arrive at Progressive Field on Wednesday, they will only be five days separated from having handed Kluber his lunch in Game 2, a beating that became a footnote after all the drama that followed.

The Indians are still the champs. It’s still the Yankees who will have to take that crown away. But a funny thing happened these last two nights at Yankee Stadium. Suddenly that doesn’t seem like such a crazy notion anymore. Does it?

Source : http://nypost.com/2017/10/10/yankees-have-made-the-indians-no-longer-seem-like-juggernaut/

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