That was the final bit of unraveling for the Yankees that began hours earlier when Manager Joe Girardi pulled C.C. Sabathia with one out in the sixth, even though the left-hander had recovered from a rocky start to retire 12 of 13 batters., His pitch count was only at 77.
The toll of Tuesday’s wild-card win by the Yankees — when the starter Luis Severino got only one out before the game was turned over to the bullpen — then appeared to kick in.
Green had been one of the Yankees’ most reliable relievers in the second half of the season, but he had been forced to throw 41 pitches in helping to bail out Severino. And facing Lindor, with the bases loaded, he proceeded to give up his first home run since July 27, a blast that hit off the right-field foul pole and sent Lindor on a joyous trip around the bases.
Meanwhile, Robertson, who threw a career-high 52 pitches on Tuesday, had not allowed a home run since July 29. But Bruce, whom the Yankees tried in vain to acquire from the Mets in August, continued to torment them for the second consecutive night. After driving in three runs in Thursday’s Game 1 win, he blasted a 3-1 pitch from Robertson deep into the left-center field bleachers to tie it at 8-8.
The Yankees had two good chances to regain the lead, but Cleveland’s side-arming right-hander, Joe Smith, froze Sanchez with a called third strike to end the ninth with Todd Frazier on third. Cody Allen then retired Chase Headley on a groundout with runners at the corners to end the 10th inning.
The most crushing unfulfilled opportunity came in the 11th when Torreyes, sent in to pinch run for Frazier, who had reached second on a two-base error, was picked off by the rifle-armed Gomes, who threw from behind the plate on his knees.
The Indians had a threat in the 10th against Aroldis Chapman, whose off-balance throw on Jackson’s dribbler caromed into the camera well, with Jackson awarded second base. But Chapman escaped.
The Yankees had built an 8-3 lead on the backs of the home runs from Sanchez and Hicks and one from Greg Bird. But it was not enough.
After Green replaced Sabathia with one out in the sixth and a runner on first, he got a second out but then gave up a ringing double off the left-field wall to Gomes, putting runners on second and third.
Pinch-hitter Lonnie Chisenhall was then awarded first base when he was hit on the hand by a pitch from Green, or so home-plate umpire Dan Iassogna ruled. But Sanchez immediately signaled to the Yankees’ dugout to check the replays, certain that it had hit Chisenhall’s bat.
Brett Weber, the coaching assistant who monitors replays for the Yankees, is regarded as one of the best in baseball and during the three years that the replay system has been implemented, the Yankees have consistently had one of the best challenge rates in baseball.
Though replays appeared to show the ball hitting the knob of Chisenhall’s bat, the Yankees chose not to have the play reviewed. At which point, Lindor came to plate and carved away almost all of the Yankees’ lead with one swing.
The Yankees faced a formidable task in Game 2 after having been stifled by Trevor Bauer and two relievers in the series opener. They had to deal with Kluber, a leading Cy Young Award candidate who had dominated them in two victories in August.
Girardi said before the game there were two keys to beating Kluber, who had allowed one earned run in his last four starts: hitting his mistakes and grinding out at-bats.
The Yankees excelled on both counts. Sanchez, who had homered off Kluber here in early August, hit a two-run homer to center. In the third, Sanchez looped a one-out single to right but after Didi Gregorius grounded out, Kluber could not finish the inning.
Castro lashed a singled to left and Bird followed by stroking a single to right, scoring Sanchez. With left-hander Tyler Olson warming up, Kluber was given the opportunity to face Hicks, who had struck out in his first at-bat. But this time, he clubbed a 3-2 fastball into the right-field seats and suddenly the Yankees were ahead, 6-3. It was the shortest outing of the season for Kluber.
The game had turned in the Yankees’ favor the inning before. . The Indians, already having seized a 3-2 lead, had the bases loaded, one out and their best hitter — Jose Ramirez — at the plate.
But after a visit from pitching coach Larry Rothschild and with Green hustling to get loose in the bullpen, Sabathia fell behind Ramirez two balls and one strike.
But the next pitch, a slider, ran in on Ramirez’s hands and jammed him. The ball floated over toward the first-base dugout, where it settled into Bird’s glove. Sufficiently buoyed, Sabathia struck out designated hitter Michael Brantley on three pitches.
Hours later, though, that positive moment for the Yankees, and all their others, had been obliterated. game.