Saturday, October 7, 2017
The Yankees knocked out American League Cy Young Award candidate Corey Kluber early. The Indians lost slugger Edwin Encarnacion to a right ankle injury in the first inning. Yet, the Tribe still found a way. Overcoming obstacles has become kind of a trademark for this club.
Yan Gomes’ RBI single to left field in the 13th inning scored Austin Jackson as the Indians rallied for a thrilling 9-8 walk-off win to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-five AL Division Series presented by Doosan. Game 3 is set for Sunday at 7:30 p.m. ET on FS1 at Yankee Stadium.
Obviously, that was a brutal loss. It ranks up there with some of the worst Yankee postseason losses of the last…what…fifty years or so? They missed the playoffs from 1967-1975. 1976, they just outright beaten by the Reds. This was worse than the Midgies game. This was worse than the Chuck Knoblauch game. This was worth than Sandy Alomar Jr. hitting the homer off of Mo. This wasn’t as bad as Games 4 and 5 against the Dodgers in 1981, Games 4 and 5 in Fenway in 2004 and it wasn’t as bad as Game 7 against Arizona in 2001, but it was a really, really bad loss (worse than Game 5 against the Mariners in 1995? Debatable. Game 3 against the Royals in 1980? Probably.).
The big problem in the game, of course, took place in the sixth inning when the umpire ruled that Lonnie Chisenhall was hit by a pitch when he really wasn’t. Yankee replay guy, Brett Webber, told Joe Girardi not to challenge the play and Girardi, as always, followed Webber’s lead. Webber, though, only had the basic replay to base his opinion on. By the time that the full, slow motion replay had been released, it was too late, as the next batter was already up. Chase Headley (who thought that the ball didn’t hit Chisenhall) remarked:
“Now everybody is like, ‘We should have done something different,’ but in the heat of the moment, those types of things can happen,” Headley said. “I think when you get word that the call was right, why would you challenge it? That’s how I look at it. I think our guy does as good a job as anyone has in the league. I think Joe trusts him. Unfortunately, it just happened at a really bad time.”
Webber’s whole job is to say “challenge or don’t challenge” and he said “don’t challenge” so Girardi didn’t challenge. Girardi can make up whatever other nonsense reasons he wants (“I didn’t want to mess up Chad Green’s rhythm” - come on, dude, that makes no sense), but it’s plain as day - he has a guy whose job it is to say whether to challenge things and they guy said “don’t challenge.” You can certainly knock Girardi for not overruling his challenge guy, but, again, that’s how they do it every game and that’s specifically what the Yankees pay this guy to do and he’s been acclaimed as one of the best replay guys that there is. But obviously he was wrong this time. And it cost the Yankees dearly, as the next batter hit a grand slam (the first home run allowed by Chad Green since July 27th! Just the fifth home run he’s allowed all year)..
Of course, the Yankees were still leading even after the grand slam, but David Robertson gave up a game-tying home run in the 8th inning and at that point, it was really only a matter of time before the Indians eventually pushed a run across. It took until the 13th inning, but it happened.
Now the Yankees have to win both games in New York just to have a CHANCE at facing off against probably Trevor Bauer again. Let’s hope that they get to that point.
EDITED TO ADD: Apparently Aroldis Chapman liked a comment hoping that Girardi doesn’t return next year. If that was someone other than Aroldis Chapman, I might lend it some weight, but it’s Aroldis Chapman, so I don’t.