2020 American League Wild Card Series 2
|2020 American League Wild Card Series|
|New York Yankees
33 - 27 in the AL
|2 - 0
35 - 25 in the AL
|1||New York Yankees 12 Cleveland Indians 3||September 29||Gerrit Cole (1-0) Shane Bieber (0-1)||7:00 pm|
|2||New York Yankees 10 Cleveland Indians 9||September 30||Masahiro Tanaka (0-0) Carlos Carrasco (0-0)||7:00 pm|
Game 1 @ Progressive Field
|WP: Gerrit Cole (1-0); LP: Shane Bieber (0-1)|
|Home Runs: NYY - Aaron Judge (1), Gleyber Torres (1), Brett Gardner (1), Giancarlo Stanton (1); CLE - Josh Naylor (1)|
- Attendance: none
Baseball fans around the country were expecting a great pitching match-up in Game 1 of the series, with Shane Bieber, coming off winning the Pitcher's Triple Crown and sporting a ridiculously small 1.63 ERA during the regular season, facing off against $300-million man Gerrit Cole, one of the most dominant starting pitchers in the game over the past five or so seasons. It took only a couple of batters to smash that story line, as on his fourth pitch of the evening, Bieber surrendered a two-run homer to Aaron Judge, and the Bronx Bombers were off to the races. The Yankees added another run in the 3rd and a couple in the 4th, then in the 5th it was Gleyber Torres who took Bieber deep, again with a runner on base, for a 7-2 lead. To put things in perspective, Bieber had only given up one 1st-inning run all season, but he was clearly overwhelmed by circumstances on this evening.
Meanwhile, Cole, an habitué of the postseason in recent years, had no jitters to overcome. Only one batter was able to solve his pitches, Josh Naylor, who hit a double in the 2nd and a solo homer in the 4th. Cole pitched 7 innings, giving up a pair of runs on 6 hits, but more impressively compiled 13 strikeouts while walking none, joining Hall of Famer Tom Seaver as the only pitchers ever to strike out so many in a postseason game without walking anyone. It was also his third postseason game with 12 or more strikeouts, something no one else had ever done.
Bieber left the game after Torres' homer with 2 outs in the 5th, having given up 7 runs in 4 2/3 innings, by far his worst outing of the year. His relievers did not fare much better as Adam Cimber gave up a couple more runs in the 7th before giving way to rookie Cam Hill who surrendered a two-run homer to the first man he faced, Brett Gardner, to increase the lead to 11-2. Giancarlo Stanton added a fourth homer to lead off the 9th, and Naylor came up in the bottom of the needing needing a triple for the cycle. He did hit a solid drive to the right field corner but did not test Judge's arm in search of vain glory, stopping on second base to finish 4-for-4. He later scored a meaningless run on a single by Tyler Naquin off Luis Cessa to make the final score 12-3, a completely dominant performance by the Yankees.
Game 2 @ Progressive Field
|WP: Aroldis Chapman (1-0); LP: Brad Hand (0-1)|
|Home Runs: NY - Giancarlo Stanton (2), Giovanny Urshela (1), Gary Sanchez (1)|
- Attendance: none
The Yankees completed a two-game sweep of the Indians with a 10-9 win in Game 2, but this time it was not a cakewalk, as there were numerous lead changes, playing time was four hours and 50 minutes - a record for a nine-inning postseason game - and rain delays accounted for another 76 minutes. The record total of 19 walks by both teams in the game was a big contributor to the very long game time but in the end, the Indians' pitchers were unable to stop the Yankees' bats and bowed out of the postseason after just two games.
It was a cold, wet and windy night at Progressive Field and the start of the game, scheduled for 7 pm, was delayed by an hour by weather conditions. When play started, the wind was still howling and the skies were anything but clear, but Carlos Carrasco manage to go through the top of the 1st quickly, setting down the Yankees in order. However, rain began falling with some intensity in the bottom of the inning and Masahiro Tanaka was obviously bothered, allowing a one-out double to Carlos Hernandez and a run-scoring double to Jose Ramirez three pitches later. The umpires then stopped the action, and there was a 16-minute delay, as the remnants of the initial storm returned temporarily after being blown by Lake Erie winds. Just as the two managers were beginning to worry about what damage a long delay would do for their pitching plans, the rain stopped, and the rest of the game was played slowly, but with no further interruption. The Indians continued to pound Tanaka when play resumed, with Franmil Reyes drawing a two-out walk followed by a double by Josh Naylor that drove in two more runs, and a single by Robert Perez that drove in Naylor for a 4-0 Indians lead after one inning.
The Yankees replied immediately as Giancarlo Stanton hit his second homer of the series with one out in the top of the 2nd, but things settled down for a couple of innings after that. It was still 4-1 in the top of the 4th when the Indians decided to shoot themselves in the foot. First, CF Delino DeShields misjudged what appeared to be a routine fly ball by Aaron Hicks into a lead-off triple. Carrasco then lost the plot as he walked Luke Voit and Stanton in succession to load the bases. At this point, manager Terry Francona brought in his most effective reliever, rookie James Karinchak, hoping that he would use his other-worldly strikeout rate to get out of the jam with minimal damage. Instead, he allowed a very long homer to left by Giovanny Urshela, a grand slam that put the Yankees in the lead, 5-4. The Indians and Karinchak were obviously shaken, but with the three-batter minimum rule now in effect, Francona could not remove his young hurler until he had walked the next two batters, Gleyber Torres and Brett Gardner. There was still nobody out. Phil Maton came out and he managed to stop the budding disaster by retiring the next three batters without allowing a run. The Indians were trailing by one run, but their body language would have been the same if they had been down by six or more... New York then continued its onslaught in the 5th when Hicks drew a lead-off walk, followed by a double by Voit. Stanton hit a fly out to deep right, and Hicks could jog over lazily to score the 6th run while Voit advanced to third. But Maton once again managed to stop another potential explosion by fielding a chopper from Urshela himself and catching Voit in no man's land between third and home. To add more drama, he then committed a balk, allowing Urshela to advance to second base, before getting Gleyber Torres to ground out to end the inning. The Indians had just played two of their worst innings all season, but still were only down 6-4.
Cleveland began its comeback in the bottom of the 5th as Francisco Lindor hit a lead-off double and Hernandez drew a walk from a tiring Tanaka. Chad Green was brought in to pitch and he allowed a double to the right field corner by Ramirez. Lindor scored easily, and Hernandez ran home behind him, although he only scored because the relay from 2B D.J. LeMahieu was high, forcing C Gary Sanchez to jump up and giving the sliding Hernandez just enough to me to sneak his hand on the plate before he was tagged. The Yankees challenged the safe call to no avail. Meanwhile, Ramirez had advanced to third base on the throw, but Green managed to strand him there by striking out Carlos Santana and Reyes and getting the red-hot Naylor to fly out to right. After five innings, the score was a 6-6 tie. The Yankees replied immediately against lanky rookie Triston McKenzie as Gardner drew a lead-off walk and Sanchez followed with a two-run homer to right. The Indians put a couple of men on with one out against Green in the bottom of the inning, but Aaron Boone brought in Zack Britton who ended the threat by getting Lindor to hit into an inning-ending double play. The Yankees put two more men on against McKenzie in the top of the 7th, on a walk and a two-out error by Ramirez, but Nick Wittgren struck out Gardner to end the threat. The Indians then tied the game again in the bottom of the inning as Santana and Reyes both drew two-out walks. Francona called on Jordan Luplow to pinch hit for Naylor, a head-scratcher given Naylor's production so far in the two games, and the match-up advantage he gained was immediately erased when Boone replied by substituting Jonathan Loaisiga for Britton on the mound. But Luplow delivered a clutch hit, a double to center that scored both of the not-so-nimble baserunners. The score was now 8-8 and Loasisiga hit Perez with a pitch to put a second runner on, but the inning ended when Tyler Naquin grounded into a force out.
The epic game continued on with Wittgren walking two Yankees after one out in the top of the 8th and then wiggling out of his own jam with a ground ball and a strikeout of pinch-hitter Clint Frazier. The Indians then took the lead in the bottom of the inning as DeShields and Lindor drew lead-off walks, forcing on Boone to make an early call to his relief ace, Aroldis Chapman. The flame-thrower allowed a single to Hernandez that drove in DeShields for a 9-8 lead, but he then struck out Ramirez and got Santana to ground into an inning-ending double play to limit the damage. It was now up to closer Brad Hand to nail down the win, but he was unable to do so. He walked lead-off batter Stanton, who gave way to a pinch-runner, Mike Tauchman, then Urshela and Torres both singled, loading the bases with nobody out. Gardner struck out for the first out, but Sanchez hit a fly ball to DeShields in center field for a game-tying sacrifice fly and LeMahieu followed with a single to put the Yankees ahead, 10-9, the other two runners advancing an extra base on an error by DeShields. Cal Quantrill was summoned from the bullpen, and after loading the bases again by pitching around Judge with first base open, he struck out Hicks. The Indians still had a chance, down by one run in the bottom of the 9th. Chapman got two quick outs then appeared to end the game by striking out pinch-hitter Oscar Mercado, but Sanchez wasn't able to handle the final strike and Mercado reached first base on the passed ball. In a good Hollywood movie, this would have set the stage for Austin Hedges, pinch-hitting for Naquin, to hit a walk-off homer, but this was an ordinary ball game, and Hedges only became the third strikeout victim of the inning, with Sanchez holding on to the money pitch this time, ending the game as it was now past 1:00 AM on the east coast.
- Jesse Yomtov: "Yankees vs. Indians: American League Wild Card series preview, schedule, predictions", USA Today, September 29, 2020. 
|Major League Baseball Wild Card Series|