CLEVELAND — At one level in the eighth inning of the epic Game 2 of the wild-card collection between the Yankees and the Indians, Yankees third baseman Gio Urshela seemed again on the large scoreboard at Progressive Field and noticed that the clock was approaching 1 a.m. Thursday.
“Oh, this is a long game,” Urshela mentioned to himself in shock.
If not for that glimpse, Urshela wouldn’t have recognized sport that was speculated to have begun at 7 p.m. Wednesday had bled into the wee hours of the following day. The sport’s many twists and turns — and there have been extra after Urshela checked the time — had captured his consideration and captivated these watching at house, presumably with white knuckles.
When nearer Aroldis Chapman struck out Austin Hedges to finish the sport at 1:14 a.m., the fifth-seeded Yankees had not solely defeated the fourth-seeded Indians, 10-9, to comb their best-of-three wild card collection and advance to an American League division collection, they’d additionally completed the longest nine-inning sport — postseason or common season — in main league historical past, at four hours 50 minutes.
The Yankees have been concerned in the earlier document holder: They performed four hours 45 minutes for a win over the Boston Red Sox on Aug. 18, 2006.
Extra innings weren’t wanted to create the drama that started Wednesday: a non-rain delay, an precise rain delay, unpredictability heightened by moist and windy circumstances, 38 gamers used, 388 pitches thrown, 5 lead modifications, 4 ties, a number of game-changing performs, and an announcement from a crew that had performed poorly coming into the postseason.
“A lot of people, understandably so, were questioning us coming in,” Yankees Manager Aaron Boone mentioned. “We’ve probably caught some people’s attention again. When we’re playing at our best and when we’re playing well, we can beat anybody.”
With the Yankees trailing by a run with one out in the ninth inning, catcher Gary Sanchez knotted the rating with a sacrifice fly off Brad Hand, the Indians nearer who entered the sport and not using a single blown save this yr. Then infielder D.J. LeMahieu, the Yankees’ finest hitter, supplied the profitable run by chopping a run-scoring single up the center.
“I’m 47 years old,” mentioned Boone, who’s the son of a former main league catcher and supervisor, Bob Boone. “I’ve watched a lot of baseball. I’ve watched a lot of my dad’s playoff games, and I’ve been in some really big games. I don’t know how you top that one.”
That was fairly the reward, contemplating that in his enjoying days Boone hit one of the most memorable home runs in baseball history: a walk-off blast in extra innings against the rival Boston Red Sox in Game 7 of the 2003 A.L. Championship Series that sent the Yankees to the World Series. The stakes were much different for Boone and the Yankees in Wednesday’s game, but the emotional roller coaster was head-spinning nonetheless.
“No matter what happened — down by four, going down later, it didn’t matter — we had the confidence we were going to win,” said Yankees designated-hitter Giancarlo Stanton, who homered for the second straight game.
That renewed conviction may help the Yankees in their next matchup, a best-of-five series against their fierce division rival, the top-seeded Tampa Bay Rays, slated to begin Monday at a neutral site, Petco Park, in San Diego. The Rays, who won the A.L. East crown this year, and the Yankees aren’t particularly fond of each other: Their rivalry has been littered with terse words, bench-clearing incidents and hit batters.
The Yankees and Indians did not need any of those fireworks; their game provided plenty. The night, though, began inauspiciously. The first pitch was delayed 43 minutes because of “incoming rain” that did not immediately materialize. But when the game started, heavy rain did arrive in the first inning, and Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka coughed up a run.
Boone called the delays “a little bit frustrating” and “not really fair” to Tanaka, who said through an interpreter that the conditions were “extremely bad.” He added: “You get the ball from the umpire, and it’s already soaking wet. You’re not really able to throw.”
Even after the teams returned from a 33-minute rain delay in the bottom of the first, the drizzle continued for some time, and Tanaka, normally a postseason stalwart, surrendered three more runs. But the Yankees’ lineup, the best in the A.L. despite some inconsistency during the regular season, fought back against the Indians’ pitching staff, also the best in the league.
Key regular-season performers came through during the wild card series, such as LeMahieu and Urshela, who clobbered a fourth-inning go-ahead grand slam off the Indians’ James Karinchak, a young flamethrower who has emerged as an elite reliever. But so did some players in the midst of down years: outfielder Brett Gardner and shortstop Gleyber Torres drove in a combined six runs in Game 1, and Sanchez skied a go-ahead, two-run home run that sneaked over the right field wall in the sixth inning of Game 2.
“I thought it was a fly ball to right,” Sanchez said, adding later: “In the regular season, I’ve had good swings and hit the ball hard, but no home runs. And on this one, I didn’t hit it like I can, and the ball carried. That’s baseball.”
The frenzied back and forth between the Indians and Yankees in Game 2 was partly a result of the instability of the Yankees bullpen. A dominant start by ace Gerrit Cole and a scoring binge by the Yankees’ offense spared the relief corps some heavy lifting in Game 1, but a few cracks showed a day later.
When reliever Chad Green sputtered, Boone turned to Zack Britton, who started out effectively before stumbling a bit. Because of a season-long injury to Tommy Kahnle and the struggles of Adam Ottavino, Boone had few reliable options, so he called upon Jonathan Loaisiga, a talented but unproven pitcher whose performance allowed the Indians to take the lead in the eighth inning.
The Yankees, though, were rescued by their offense (particularly in the ninth inning), their defense (particularly Urshela’s run-saving double play in the eighth, during which he threw to second base while seated on the ground) and Chapman (who tossed two innings in a game for the first time since 2017).
After the final out, the Yankees’ celebration was subdued. That was in part because coronavirus protocols prohibited the traditional Champagne-and-beer revelry, but also because the Yankees knew more was ahead.
“You can’t get too excited,” Stanton said, adding later: “The ultimate goal, we’re not even close to there. Our mind-set is that we haven’t done anything yet.