A week ago, you could of asked anyone in Cleveland if they thought this series would go to five games and they would have responded with a laugh. The Yankees versus Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco and this offense? No chance. As everyone knows, hindsight is 20/20 and here we are looking to mentally prepare for anything.
Last night, manager Terry Francona went against his original plan to go with starter Josh Tomlin, and instead put Bauer on the bump against the Bronx Bombers for his second ALDS start. He lasted just an inning and 2/3, struck out three and walked two. Four runs scored with Bauer on the mound, though zero of them were earned runs. Francona went to the pen to stop the bleeding, but that only kept it at bay for a short time as the Yankees ended up with seven runs. The Indians would put three on the board via the long ball from Carlos Santana (2-run homer) and Roberto Perez (a solo), before succumbing to a second Yankees win.
The series is tied at two a piece as the ALDS heads back to Cleveland, Ohio to be played at Progressive Field for an 8pm start. Kluber, Cleveland’s ace pitcher, will make his second start of the ALDS. He pitched 2.2 innings Friday night in game two, and pitched well below the standard we’ve come to expect from him. His command was off, his velocity was lacking, and he looked lost in the middle of Yankees stadium. Media and fans whispered throughout the inter-webs about possible injuries, slumps and other nonsensical causes. It’s safe to say, if Francona and the pitching coaches even thought for an instant something wasn’t right with Kluber, he wouldn’t be pitching in the postseason.
Because the feel for game five can be compared to a one-and-done wildcard game, one could assume that behind Kluber, it will be all hands on deck (Bauer, keep those cleats on.). The Yankees will put former Indians starter C.C. Sabathia who also started in game two against Kluber.
An update about DH Edwin Encarnacion, he should be ready to pinch hit in time for Wednesday night’s game. Francona was asked about the power bat being ready and replied, “I think so,” with a solidifying decision pending a run test Tuesday during workouts.
The Indians have as many advantages as possible going into game five; being at home, around their fans in a sellout crowd, with their Cy-Young winning ace on the mound being supported by one of the best offenses in baseball. There is no reason they should lose this game, however, the beauty of baseball whether you like it or not is that anything is possible.
Here are the line-ups for the final game of the 2017 ALDS:
|SS||Francisco Lindor||LF||Brett Gardner|
|CF||Jason Kipnis||RF||Aaron Judge|
|2B||Jose Ramirez||SS||Didi Gregorius|
|DH||Edwin Encarnacion||C||Gary Sanchez|
|1B||Carlos Santana||1B||Greg Bird|
|LF||Austin Jackson||2B||Starlin Castro|
|RF||Jay Bruce||CF||Aaron Hicks|
|C||Roberto Perez||DH||Jacoby Ellsbury|
|3B||Giovanny Urshela||3B||Todd Frazier|