The evening began with future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera throwing out his signature cutter for a ceremonial first pitch strike, and it ended with Tommy Kahnle throwing a 91 MPH change-up past the Indians’ Lonnie Chisenhall for his fifth strikeout and a two inning save.
The Yankees forced a fifth and deciding game in Cleveland Wednesday night after they polished off the Indians, 7-3, to even the ALDS at two games apiece. In rallying to win games three and four, the Yankees have demonstrated the grit and resilience that it’s going to take to pull out this series.
After the disastrous loss in game two left them in a 2-0 series hole, the Yankees would’ve gladly “taken the fifth” as in fifth game, so they made a statement and continued their outstanding play at home. “Feels great,” Tommy Kahnle after he saved the game with two impressive innings. “That was our main goal to get to the next day, give us a chance to win the series.” They have that chance now.
The Yankees built a four run lead by taking full advantage of four Cleveland errors with some clutch hits, a productive out and a sacrifice fly that led to six unearned runs.
Things were going so well for the Yankees. Starting pitcher Luis Severino redeemed himself for his poor outing in the Wild Card game as he went seven innings and gave up three runs on four hits with nine strikeouts. The 23-year old threw 113 pitches as he gave the Yankees some much needed length on a night when David Robertson was not available and closer Aroldis Chapman may or may not have been able to go. (Chapman warmed up in the bullpen in the eighth inning)
Yankee manager Joe Girardi went to Dellin Betances to start the eighth. It used to be a sure thing for the manager but lately, Betances has been an enigma as he’s experienced control problems. That problem reared it’s ugly head again when the big right hander walked the first two hitters he faced.
Girardi didn’t waste time as he brought in Kahnle to replace Betances who was lustily booed off the mound by the crowd of 47,316. “To be honest, I didn’t feel any pressure,” Kahnle said.
The hard throwing Kahnle, who was acquired from the White Sox in the deadline deal that also brought Robertson and Todd Frazier, came out firing as he struck out Jason Kipnis looking. The struggling Jose Ramirez (.118 BA, 0 HRS, 0 RBI’s) was next and he popped out on the second pitch of the at-bat and then Kahnle ended the eighth and the Indians’ final threat by striking out Jay Bruce on three pitches. The ninth was more of the same as Kahnle struck out the side including Chisenhall, who wore the “golden sombrero” (4 K’s)
Kahnle, who faced six hitters and struck out five, qualified for the save because he entered the game in the eighth inning with the tying run on deck. “I’m coming in, I’m going to try to help out my teammate (Betances) and get out of there without giving up his runs,” said Kahnle. “Save the team as well,” which he did.
The Yankees are on their way to Cleveland where they have not won a post season game in 19 years and where they suffered a heart breaking, season ending defeat in game five of the 1997 ALDS.
Of course, the Yankees and Indians are different teams. For the Yankees, they hope the results are different as well.