NEW YORK YANKEES (94-73)
at CLEVELAND INDIANS (104-62)
ALDS Ė Game 5 Ė Progressive Field Ė Cleveland, OH
First pitch: Wednesday, 8:05 p.m. ET
Line: New York +170, Cleveland -180, Total: 7.5
The Yankees will be hoping to complete an epic comeback with a road victory over the Indians in a win-or-go-home Game 5 on Wednesday.
The Yankees could have easily quit on this series after Joe Girardiís decision not to challenge a crucial call in Game 2 lost them the game. The Yankees should have been up 8-3 late, but a blown call and Girardiís mental error made it 8-7 with all of the momentum in the Indiansí favor. New York ended up going down 2-0 in the series after that extra innings loss, which had to have been disheartening. But the Yankees didnít give up. New York battled back to win both games at Yankee Stadium, and the team should now be feeling extremely confident heading into this meeting with the Indians at Progressive Field. Cleveland might have won both of its home games against New York in this series, but the team is probably feeling pretty nervous right now. The Indians blew a 3-1 lead against the Cubs in last yearís World Series, and they have already squandered two chances to advance here. That makes them 0-5 in their past five closeout games, so they might be feeling like there is just something working against them right now. Cleveland does, however, have the edge on the mound in this game. RHP Corey Kluber (18-4, 2.25 ERA, 265 K) is going to be starting for the Indians in this one, and itíll be LHP CC Sabathia (14-5, 3.69 ERA, 120 K) on the mound for the Yankees. Donít look for New York to panic about the matchup, though. This team trusts Sabathia in big games like this.
The Yankees have already shocked a ton of people by clawing their way back into this series, but thatís not good enough for this team. New York feels that it can truly win a World Series this year, so this group would be devastated by a loss on Wednesday. Fortunately for the Yankees, Sabathia will be taking the ball in this one. The lefty was excellent against the Indians in Game 2, allowing only two earned runs in 5.1 innings of work. He struck out five batters in that game and was pretty much on cruise control after a lousy three runs in the first two innings. Look for him to step his game up and try to put this team on his back, like he has done so many times before. On offense, the Yankees are going to need to find a way to scratch at least two runs off of Kluber here. While it might be unlikely that the ace struggles in two straight games against New York, the team just might feel as though it has something on him. Keep an eye out for both C Gary Sanchez and OF Aaron Hicks here, as both guys homered off of Kluber in Game 2.
The Indians are going to be feeling more pressure than the Yankees on Wednesday, as theyíre the team that was supposed to win this series and they also had a 2-0 lead as well. The good news for Cleveland is that Kluber will be on the mound in this one. The righty might have allowed six earned runs in 2.2 innings of work in Game 2, but itís extremely likely that he fails to show up again. He is the best pitcher in the American League and he knows that he needs to come through for his team in this one. Offensively, the Indians are definitely missing DH Edwin Encarnacion in this series. The Indians do, however, have the firepower to make up for his absence here. The guys that will be counted on to step it up for them are SS Francisco Lindor, 3B Jose Ramirez and 1B Carlos Santana. Ramirez is the one that must be pointed out here, though. The 25-year-old has a strong case to be the AL MVP this season, but he has been absolutely invisible in the playoffs. Ramirez is just 2-for-17 in the series and the team needs him to snap out of it here.