The Yankees were completely helpless against Indians starter Trevor Bauer in the series opener, but they wasted no time in turning the tables tonight. The Bombers erupted for four runs in the second inning, driving Bauer from the game before he could record six outs.
Luis Severino showed no signs of the nervousness that caused his poor outing in the Wild Card Game. He retired the side in order in the first inning, and kept the Indians off the board until the fourth. Severino wasn't perfect tonight, but he didn't need to be. The Yankees gave him a comfortable early lead, and Sevy made it hold up.
With one out in the second, Starlin Castro reached on a fielding error by third baseman Giovanny Urshela. After Chase Headley was called out on strikes, Castro advanced to second on a passed ball and scored on a Todd Frazier double. Aaron Hicks singled him home, then moved to third on a Brett Gardner groundball base hit up the middle.
Gardner stole second and then scored with Hicks on an Aaron Judge double into the left-field corner. Bauer issued an intentional walk to Didi before being pulled from the game. Joe Smith got Gary Sanchez on a pop out to end the inning, but the damage was done. The Yankees had a 4-0 lead and were well on their way to a decisive Game Five showdown in Cleveland.
The Yankees extended their lead in the third. Greg Bird drew a lead-off walk from Cleveland reliever Mike Clevinger and moved to third on a Castro double. Following a Headley strikeout and Todd Frazier walk to load the bases, Hicks grounded to first and Bird was forced out at home. Castro scored the Yankees' fifth run of the game when third baseman Giovanny Urshela made a throwing error on what should have been an inning-ending groundout by Gardner.
The Indians broke through with two runs off Severino in the fourth when Jay Bruce drew a two-out walk and Carlos Santana homered. The Tribe added their third run in the fifth when Roberto Perez hit a one-out homer to right.
Those two home runs were the only mistakes that Sevy made all night. He dominated the dangerous Indians' lineup, striking out nine and allowing only one walk and four hits. The sellout crowd at Yankee Stadium frequently erupted into chants of SEV-ER-I-NO in support of the young right-hander.
With the lead having shrunk to 5-3 in the fifth, the Yankees added another unearned run to extend their lead. Frazier made it to second to lead off the inning when Cleveland reliever Danny Salazar threw the ball away on an easy groundball. Frazier moved to third on a Hicks groundout and scored on a Gardner sacrifice fly. Gary Sanchez homered in the sixth to make it 7-3 with nine outs to go.
Although the first six Yankees’ runs were unearned, they hit the ball hard all night and capitalized on each of the first three Indians' errors. The Tribe made four errors in total, while Cleveland pitchers issued six walks.
Having thrown 113 pitches, Severino was replaced by Dellin Betances to start the eighth. Betances promptly walked the first two batters, but Tommy Kahnle bailed him out by retiring the next three in order — two on strikeouts. Kahnle then struck out the side in the ninth to seal the Yankees’ victory and even the series at two games apiece.
The Bronx Bombers are looking to repeat the feat accomplished by the 2001 squad, who came back after being down 0-2 in the Division Series to beat the Athletics. Since the format was adopted in 1969, the Yankees have pushed a best-of-five playoff series to the limit nine times, winning six.
In a rematch of Game Two, CC Sabathia will make the start for the Yankees while probable Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber will take the ball for the Indians in the winner-take-all series finale on Wednesday at Jacobs Field. First pitch is scheduled for 8:00 PM EDT.