Why Yankees aren’t the ones with the most to lose in Game 5

CLEVELAND — Not only will the Indians face CC Sabathia and the Yankees in Wednesday night’s ALDS Game 5, they also will be trying to throttle the muscular demons in their soul.

Sports have a way of delivering sensational storylines, and Game 5 certainly qualifies. The winner moves to the ALCS and faces the Astros. The loser starts preparing to eat between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Included in those storylines is the 37-year-old Sabathia starting the biggest game of the Yankees’ season after climbing Reinvention Mountain. Corey Kluber, a solid candidate to win his second Cy Young award, is in the other corner looking to atone for a horrific outing in Game 2 when the Yankees punished him for six runs and seven hits (two homers) in 2 ²/₃ innings.

While many believe the Yankees are playing with stolen money after crawling out of a 0-2 ditch, a big ball of pressure sits on the Indians’ heads. Since 1997, the Indians are 4-16 in series-clinching games. That includes going 0-2 in this series when they missed two chances to put the Yankees to sleep.

Furthermore, essentially it is the same Indians club that led the Cubs, 3-1, in last year’s World Series and lost in seven.

Joe Girardi had a choice between Sonny Gray and Sabathia and didn’t hesitate to name Sabathia the Game 5 starter before the Yankees copped Game 4, 7-3, Monday night at Yankee Stadium.

Girardi and and the pitcher’s teammates feel secure with Sabathia on the mound because this will be his 21st postseason start and he has pitched in two World Series games. Another encouraging factor is the fact Sabathia limited the Indians to two earned runs and three hits in 5 ¹/₃ innings in a Game 2 that Girardi sabotaged by botching the challenging system.

Sabathia is beyond his days as an ace, but when you look at his past two regular seasons it’s not hard to see why he is fired up to get the chance to pitch the Yankees into the ALCS.

“It’s a hell of a lot of fun to be in it than to be sitting on the side. I am just glad I get the opportunity to participate and not watch,’’ said Sabathia, who went 14-5 with a 3.69 ERA in 27 starts this season when he didn’t face the Indians and 9-12 with a 3.91 ERA in 30 starts in 2016. “Because watching these games will give you an ulcer. Pitching in them is a lot more fun.’’

Even if the Yankees were hitting better than the .193 team batting average they bring into Game 5, they would have trouble with Kluber, who was 18-4 with a 2.25 ERA in the regular season. The right-hander went 2-0 with a 1.59 ERA in two starts against the Yankees.

Yet, the most recent memory the Yankees have of Kluber is him having trouble locating in Game 2.

“Everything,’’ Kluber said when asked if anything needed to be corrected before Game 5. “I didn’t pitch well. I didn’t have good command, didn’t throw the ball where I wanted to.’’

As for the folks looking for a reason the Yankees will advance, listen to the words spoken Tuesday by Terry Francona and Kluber compared to what spilled out of Sabathia’s mouth.

“We all would have liked to have won the third game in New York and not be here in Game 5, [but] this is what everybody plays for,’’ Kluber said.

Francona echoed his ace.

“Would much have preferred us to have won and moved on,’’ Francona said.

Then there was Sabathia.

“I didn’t see why we couldn’t go home, play well and end up back here,’’ said Sabathia, a free agent after the season.

The Yankees returned to The Bronx, won two and are looking for another win to extend their season.

“We got back to this spot by battling and fighting and we are going to need to do it again,’’ Girardi said. “So, it’s a really important game.’’

Source: http://nypost.com/2017/10/10/why-yankees-arent-the-ones-with-the-most-to-lose-in-game-5/

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