There’s good fortune, there is luck, and there is simple bad voodoo and getting snake-bitten. Cleveland Indians catcher Yan Gomes helped the Cleveland Indians extend their post-season hex over the New York Yankees.
Down by five, 8-3, projected AL Cy Young winner Corey Kluber chased after getting shelled to the tune of six runs and seven hits in 2.2 innings and an uncharacteristic ERA of 20.25, former Indian—and current Yankee hurler C.C. Sabathia—dealing against his old club with a 8-3 lead, you’d think that New York would be back home in Gotham tied at 1-1 right?
Throw in Cleveland free-agent slugger Edwin Encarnacion suffering a horrific ankle injury in getting picked off of second on an inning-ending double play, and everything seemed to be working in New York’s favor.
What happened after Sabathia was taken out by Joe Giradi after 77 pitches, up five after 5.1 innings, with no hope of a Cleveland comeback is as head-scratching and mind-boggling as any managerial decision since Grady Little pulled Pedro Martinez after 120-plus pitches in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS.
What happened from that pivotal fifth inning on will—and already has been dissected—across all of the five boroughs from the Bronx to Staten Island and from high-end Chelsea lofts to the Upper East Side and bodegas in Washington Heights.
A World Series champion as a player and manager, Girardi is a hard-nosed baseball guy as they come, and doesn’t deserve the scorn that he is currently facing in getting grilled by the ruthless New York media who will turn on him in a New York minute , if the Bronx Bombers are to likely lose this series against the defending AL champions, and he better pray that Yankees current co-owners and managing partners in Hal and Hank Steinbrenner didn’t inherit their late father, George’s quick trigger-happy finger in firing managers.
Surely, King George is roiling in his grave at what his hometown Indians did to his Yankees on the corner of Carnegie and Ontario.
To say this current Indians team has “it” is an understatement, as Francisco Lindor belted a grand-slam off to make it 8-7, and after a game-tying solo homer by Jay Bruce to pull the Indians even at 8-8, you couldn’t help but feel that the old 90’s-era comeback magic was back at Jacobs Field.
If you’re a fan of the Yankees, you might as well consider it cursed black voodoo, as the old memories of Sandy Alomar and the midges of years past came back to haunt them once again.
What is it about the Indians that seems to vex the Yankees, especially in the playoffs? Yes, for all of their success in 40 pennants, 27 championships and being arguably the most successfully franchise in American sports.
Aside from their 4-2 series win over Cleveland in the 1998 ALCS, en route to sweeping the San Diego Padres, counting their two losses to Cleveland, New York is 7-10 vs. Cleveland in the playoffs.
As a former high school baseball player myself, who grew up in the era of New York-Cleveland post-season clashes, I have nothing but respect in tipping my hat to that loaded ‘98 team that has earned the right of being called, “The Best Team Ever”, and while Cleveland had their good teams, New York was better in terms of hitting and pitching.
This ‘17 Indians team, I feel has a bit of both in terms of hitting, pitching and intangibles.
It takes a lot of heart, guts and sheer luck to come from behind in the biggest post-season deficit in your club’s history against a storied franchise like the Yankees, when you’re down five runs after your starting Cy Young-caliber pitcher gets pulled early and your big bat in Encarnacion gets injured. Perhaps they are being fueled by the bitter sight of seeing the Chicago Cubs and their fans celebrate in Progressive Field and all over Cleveland, or being trolled in blowing a 3-1 lead, but this team looks hungry and motivated to settle some unfinished business.
What more satisfying way to do it then by vanquishing their powerful and money-soaked foils from Gotham, by ripping their hearts out and taking their soul in such dramatic fashion.
And then came Yan Gomes and The Hit.
On a 3-2 pitch and a ten-pitch at-bat, the Brazilian-born catcher, belted a shot down the third base line, sending Austin Jackson home and The Jake into an absolute red-tinged sea of euphoric-fueled passion.
His hit struck the deepest chord of Yankees fans like a dagger in their pinstripe-loving hearts. If you’re an Indians fan, you wouldn’t have it any other way.