CLEVELAND — When the Yankees left Cleveland five days ago, they were devastated. They boarded a plane for New York on the brink of elimination with their manager, Joe Girardi, under siege for a tactical blunder that led to an excruciating 13-inning defeat and a daunting deficit in this series.
And when the Yankees depart here in the wee hours of Thursday morning, it won’t be until they wash the Champagne out of their hair – and they will be feeling sky-high long before they get to the airport.
Behind two home runs from their reluctant slugger, Didi Gregorius; a lockdown performance from reliever David Robertson; and an epic at-bat from Brett Gardner, the Yankees capped a resounding comeback in this division series Wednesday night with a 5-2 victory over the Cleveland Indians in Game 5.
The final out came when Aroldis Chapman froze Austin Jackson with a letter-high fastball and threw his arms up in the air as his Yankees teammates raced out of the dugout.
As they celebrated, Jackson walked disconsolately back toward the third-base dugout in a second consecutive crushing end to a season for the Indians, who have not won a World Series since 1948, the longest drought in baseball.
A year after losing a three-games-to-one lead to the Chicago Cubs in the World Series, the Indians lost three straight to the Yankees here – and, just like last season, the final defeat came at their own ballpark.
The Yankees now head to Houston where they will begin the American League Championship Series on Friday against their nemesis, the Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel, who helped eliminate them in the 2015 wild-card playoff.
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