Once down 0-2 in the American League Division Series presented by Doosan, the Yankees completed their improbable comeback on Wednesday with a 5-2 win over the Indians to advance to the AL Championship Series presented by Camping World.
The Yanks celebrated on Sept. 23 in Toronto when they clinched a playoff berth and again at home after beating the Twins in the AL Wild Card Game on Oct. 3. This one represented the biggest challenge yet.
“They just keep getting better and better, to be honest,” right fielder Aaron Judge said. “This was a pretty huge win against an incredible Indians team. We’re just excited and ready to head on to Houston.”
After Aroldis Chapman finished the win by striking out Austin Jackson, catcher Gary Sanchez charged to the mound and jumped on him for a massive hug. The rest of the team ran in to celebrate, before the party moved to the visitors’ clubhouse at Progressive Field.
And there was little time to waste. Catcher Erik Kratz dumped the remnants of his sparkling wine bottle on Chapman during an interview. Infielder Ronald Torreyes one-upped him by dumping five beers on Didi Gregorius, who homered twice, in another interview.
Sanchez took the lead, spraying bottle after bottle of beer across the tarp-draped clubhouse, while right-hander Tommy Kahnle ran around screaming, “Destiny, all damn day!”
“We’re a good team, we’re a confident team and we all pull for each other,” starter CC Sabathia said. “I think that goes a long way.”
Much of the Yankees’ team is new, with Sonny Gray, Todd Frazier, David Robertson, Kahnle and Jaime Garcia brought in via midseason trades. Despite the fresh faces, the team has coalesced into one of the franchise’s most fun teams in years, while remaining focused and driven.
“I just know that when I was traded over here, from Day 1 in the clubhouse, these guys had high expectations for themselves,” Gray said. “I got right along with them. They knew how good they were, and they knew how good they could be. I’m just really happy that I can be a part of it.”
The Yankees gave themselves Wednesday night to celebrate. But on Friday, they begin the ALCS against the Astros at Minute Maid Park.
“It’s a dream come true,” Judge said. “It’s what I dreamed about as a kid — getting a chance to play in the playoffs — and we’re here.”