Cleveland’s window isn’t closing anytime soon, but this is getting ridiculous.
Last year, Cleveland had three chances to clinch the World Series after jumping out to a 3-1 advantage. They failed. This year, Cleveland had three chances to clinch the ALDS after jumping out to a 2-0 advantage. They failed.
Ace and probable Cy Young winner Corey Kluber didn’t have it. Again. He wasn’t as ineffective as he was in Game 2, but two home runs off the bat of Didi Gregorius proved to be all the Yankees needed. Then some phenomenal at-bats down the stretch—like Brett Gardner’s 12-pitch masterclass in the top of the ninth—simply added on. In fact, Gardner saw 34 pitches on the night.
Like I said, masterclass.
But Gardner wasn’t the only one who brought it. Once again, CC Sabathia turned back the clock. Once again, CC Sabathia outdueled Kluber—this time lasting 4.1 innings while surrendering just two runs (earned) after striking out nine. Now, 9.2 innings of six-run ball (four earned) doesn’t jump off the page, but each performance kept New York in the game. Plus, 14 strikeouts over that span is nothing to scoff at. Especially not from a 37-year-old who’s been on quite the roller-coaster over the past few seasons.
Now the Yankees are moving on, where the well-rested Houston Astros await them. Perhaps the Yankees weren’t supposed to be here yet. Maybe they’re here ahead of schedule because baseball needs a villain again. I couldn’t say.
But it wasn’t too long ago that we assumed Cleveland was going to coast. It wasn’t too long ago that we were talking about the seemingly inevitable Dodgers/Indians World Series. Or at the very least, the potentially incredible Astros/Indians ALCS. Then something flipped. CC Sabathia and the Yankees weren’t having it. And now they’re back—possibly for good.
Meanwhile, it’s time for Cleveland to learn to close. That is, before their window does.