The 25 biggest MLB stories of the 2010s

The 2010s for Major League Baseball were full of many moments that moved the sport ahead in ways that were previously unimaginable. The way the game was played and managed changed more than it had in decades prior. Championship droughts were ended with regularity, and new management introduced previously unimaginable elements to the game. Between it all, some amazing players made their debuts, while others had the signature moments of their already legendary careers. It was a busy decade for the national pastime; here’s a look at the signature events that defined it. 1 of 25

25. The extension of safety nets

While the chance at grabbing a foul ball has long been one of the most enticing parts of the live MLB experience, at the same time the chance of injury became far too frequent of an occurrence. An increasingly alarming number of fans — including some young ones — were being injured by foul balls, and the vast majority of Major League Baseball teams began taking action. By 2018 all teams had extended netting completely around the home plate area, but in coming years, there is the possibility that netting will be extended foul pole to foul pole, which the Chicago White Sox have already done. 2 of 25

24. Clayton Kershaw dominates for Dodgers

Although his postseason struggles continue to haunt him, there is no disputing that Kershaw had one of the greatest pitching runs of all time. An eight-time All-Star with three NL Cy Young Awards and league MVP honors in 2014, Kershaw was the most decorated hurler of the decade. He had the lowest ERA in the majors five times, becoming the first player to ever do so in four consecutive seasons, from 2011 to 2014. His 2.44 career ERA since 2011 is 1.63 runs below the league-wide ERA for the decade. 3 of 25

23. Indians 22-game winning streak

Already in first place with a 5.5 game cushion on Aug. 24, following their 13-6 victory over the Boston Red Sox, the 2017 Indians wouldn’t lose again for nearly a month. Over the next three weeks, the Indians would win 22 straight games, a run that included seven shutouts and was capped by a thrilling 10-inning victory to clinch the second-longest streak of all time, outright. It was the longest winning streak in 82 years and pulled Cleveland 13.5 games up in the AL Central en route to a second consecutive AL Central title.

4 of 25

22. Shohei Ohtani does double duty

He seemed too good to be true: a two-way talent with a 98-mph fastball who can hit home runs with ease and can do both full time? But Shohei Ohtani showed as advertised upon his arrival in America in 2018, becoming the first player since Babe Ruth to hit at least 15 home runs and pitch at least 50 innings in the same season. On his way to the AL Rookie of the Year Award, Ohtani hit 22 home runs and went 4-2 on the mound while averaging 11 strikeouts per nine innings on the mound. 5 of 25

21. The improbable run of the Washington Nationals

After being 12 games under .500 in late May, the Nationals won 65 percent of their games from June on and advanced to the World Series from the wild-card game. In the postseason they defied the odds to extraordinary levels, sandwiching an NLCS sweep of the Cardinals by beating two of the best teams in the NL and AL respectively, the Dodgers and Astros. Riding the potent rotation of Max Scherzer, Patrick Corbin and eventual 2019 World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg, Washington became the first team in history to win all of its World Series games on the road. 6 of 25

20. Decade of the prodigy

The youth was indisputably served in the 2010s, as there was a huge uptick in ready-to-play prospects reaching the majors. The single-season rookie home run record was broken twice in three years’ time, with Aaron Judge hitting 52 in 2017…before Pete Alonso hit 53 in 2019. Mike Trout became the youngest player to have a WAR of 9.0 or greater, in 2012, and Bryce Harper became the third-youngest MVP of all time, in 2015. Add in Ronald Acuna, Juan Soto, Jose Fernandez, Mookie Betts, Nolan Arenado, Corey Seager and Kris Bryant, and it was as potent of an early-career impact era as ever.

7 of 25

19. The death of Roy Halladay

A two-time Cy Young Award winner and one of the two pitchers in history with a postseason no-hitter, Halladay was one of the greatest players of his era. Just shy of four years after his retirement, Halladay tragically crashed a plane he had recently purchased off the Florida coast. He was only 40 years old. In 2019, Halladay would go on to become the first posthumous first-ballot Hall of Fame selection since Roberto Clemente in 1973. 8 of 25

18. The end of the All-Star Game/World Series advantage

The controversial decision to award home-field advantage to the victorious league in the All-Star Game came to an end heading into the 2017 season. It also ushered in an era in which regular-season merit meant more than ever for the first time. The 2017 World Series was the first one ever to be hosted outright by the winningest regular-season team. From 1903 to 2002, home-field advantage was determined via a mixture of coin flips and alternating between leagues, and, as mentioned, from 2003 to 2016, the All-Star Game winner earned the rights. 9 of 25

17. The Giants win three World Series

In the first half of the decade, the Giants made capturing World Series championships a bi-annual event. Buster Posey, Madison Bumgarner and manager Bruce Bochy were the mainstays for the franchise, as they captured the pennant in 2010, 2012 and 2014, their first since moving to San Francisco in 1958. Built around strong starting pitching, bullpen depth and defense, the Giants never won more than 94 games in any of their championship seasons but rose to the occasion in the postseason, going 12-4 in World Series play.

10 of 25

16. The video game baseball of the 2017 World Series

The Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers squared off in one of the biggest thrill rides the Fall Classic has ever seen. Over the course of the seven-game showdown, a record 25 home runs were hit, including a record-tying five by George Springer. The Astros hit a single-game record of eight in Game 2. The signature game of the series came in Game 5, a 13-12 thriller that featured five lead changes from the seventh inning on and had six game-tying home runs before a walk-off Alex Bregman single in the 10th inning. 11 of 25

15. Albert Pujols signs with the Anaheim Angels

Shortly after winning the 2011 World Series in St. Louis, Pujols headed into free agency for the first time in his career. Interest was obviously high in the three-time National League MVP, but it was hard to imagine him leaving the franchise he was synonymous with. But when negotiations with the Cardinals stalled, Angels owner Arte Moreno swooped in with a record 10-year, $254 million contract to bring Pujols west in one of the most stunning free agent coups of all time. 12 of 25

14. The deaths of Jose Fernandez, Oscar Taveras, Yordano Ventura and Tyler Skaggs

The decade also saw a string of tragic deaths to promising young talents still well shy of their 30th birthdays. Promising Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras died in a car accident in the Dominican Republic at 22 years old in 2014. Three years later, promising Kansas City pitcher Yordano Ventura suffered the same fate. In 2016 Jose Fernandez, already a two-time All-Star at age 24, died via a boating crash in Miami Beach. Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs died suddenly in July due to complications from an accidental drug overdose.

13 of 25

13. Tanking a regular event

Over the course of the decade, it became more prevalent than ever for non-competitive teams to sell off to extents never seen before. “Tanking” led to teams that struggled at times to resemble minor league rosters, as down-and-out teams broke up and jockeyed for draft pick positioning harder than trying for real-time wins. In the process parity hit all-time lows, as records were set for number of 100-win and 100-loss teams co-existing in 2018 and again in 2019. 14 of 25

12. Miguel Cabrera completes the Triple Crown

Since Carl Yastrzemski last completed the Triple Crown in 1967, many had accomplished two legs of the pursuit but none had finished it. That was until Miguel Cabrera did so in 2012, completing what was becoming believed to be impossible in the contemporary game. In claiming the crown, the Detroit Tigers slugger hit for a .330 batting average, with 44 home runs and 130 RBI en route to the American League MVP Award as well. 15 of 25

11. Bryce Harper and Manny Machado cash in

The dual free agency of Harper and Machado was a spectacle that was over a year in the making, as the two precocious talents reached free agency together in the winter of 2019. While neither reached the rumored $400 million level during their time on the open market, both did set new records for free agent pacts. Machado struck first, getting 10 years and $300 million from the San Diego Padres, followed by Harper’s $330 million over 13 years from the Philadelphia Phillies.

https://www.yardbarker.com/mlb/articles/the_25_biggest_mlb_stories_of_the_2010s/s1__30520253#slide_15

By: Matt Whitener

10 MLB players who will make a difference down the stretch

Baseball’s stretch run is in full swing, and while a handful of clubs — the Yankees, Astros, Dodgers and Braves — are locks to be playing in October, the remaining playoff spots are very much up for grabs. Every team in the hunt has legitimate stars aiming to lead it to the game’s biggest stage, but here at Yardbarker we’re focusing on guys who are not quite household names but will still have a big impact on the season’s final six weeks.

1. Keston Hiura, 2B, Milwaukee Brewers

Hiura had long been the crown jewel in the Brewers system, and since arriving in the big league’s to stay in late June, he’s done nothing but impress. Since July 1, the former first-round pick has hit .307 with 14 home runs, and his emergence has allowed Milwaukee to shift veteran Mike Moustakas back to his natural position of third base and send struggling Travis Shaw to AAA. The Brewers were a trendy pick to dethrone the Dodgers in the National League this season, and while the year has not gone entirely to plan, they’re still right in the thick of not one but two heated races. Entering play tonight, Milwaukee sits just one game back of both the Cardinals and Cubs in the NL Central and one game out of an invitation to the NL wild-card game. If they do ultimately get to participate in the postseason, Hiura may well be the primary reason why, as while the rookie has thrived toward the top of the Brewers lineup, several veterans on this team have underperformed.

2. J.D. Davis, IF/OF, New York Mets

The January trade the Mets made with the Astros to bring utility man J.D. Davis to Queens drew few headlines. The right-handed hitter had always crushed minor league pitching during his tenure with Houston but had failed multiple times at the game’s highest level. New York, though, was undeterred, as it felt his struggles with the Astros were a direct result of sporadic at-bats because of a logjam of talented players at the positions he could play. Fast forward seven months, and that bet is paying huge dividends. In the early portion of 2019, Davis was mostly a power threat off the bench for the Mets. But after injuries opened up regular playing time for him, the 26-year-old has become impossible to take out of the lineup. Since the beginning of July, he’s hit an incredible .367 while reaching base at an absurd .428 clip. He’s begun to hit for a little more power in August, as he’s already blasted four homers this month and driven in 11 runs, and his somewhat surprising production is one of the biggest reasons the Mets have been able to climb back into the pennant race.

3. Paul DeJong, SS, St. Louis Cardinals

DeJong is now in his third big league season, but he’s yet to generate much fanfare outside of St. Louis. That’s probably a little bit of an oversight, as while he’s far from being the best shortstop in the league, he’s been a productive and consistent right-handed bat for the duration of his career. After a red-hot start to this season, DeJong went into a terrible slump, but he’s broken out of it big time since the All-Star break. A recent surge that included a three home run game in Pittsburgh has put him in position to set new career highs in homers and RBI, and the Cardinals are certainly hopeful he can continue producing at a high level. Similar to Milwaukee, St. Louis is locked in heated races for both the NL Central crown and a wild-card spot, and DeJong’s bat in the bottom half of the lineup is crucial, as opposing teams are unlikely to let fellow right-handed sluggers Paul Goldschmidt or Marcell Ozuna beat them in a big spot.

4. Zach Plesac, SP, Cleveland Indians

The nephew of longtime big leaguer Dan Plesac, the young right-hander was not considered much of a prospect entering this season. A dominant 10-start beginning to his minor league season opened eyes, however, and with the Indians in need of a starter at Fenway in late May, it was Plesac who got the call. Since then he has been an absolute godsend for a Cleveland rotation that has sustained injuries to Corey Kluber, Mike Clevinger, Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar as well as a trade of outspoken Trevor Bauer. In 14 starts for the Tribe, Plesac has worked to a 3.27 ERA with a 1.19 WHIP in 77 innings, bringing a level of consistency to a pitching staff that desperately needed it. His performance has helped Cleveland erase an 11.5 game deficit in the AL Central, as earlier this week it caught Minnesota, and the club is counting on him for continued success as this race is likely headed for a photo finish.

5. Scott Kingery, IF/OF, Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies made headlines in spring training a year ago when they inked Kingery to a long-term pact before he’d ever played in a major league game. The organization obviously believed immensely in the University of Arizona product’s potential, and while it’s hard to call his rookie season much of a success (.226/.267/.338), Kingery has become a much more important Phillie in 2019. Playing all over the diamond, the 25-year-old has hit .275 with 14 homers and 27 doubles in 324 at-bats while serving as an offensive table setter for Bryce Harper, Rhys Hoskins and J.T. Realmuto for most of the season. Philadelphia has underwhelmed following a massive importation of star power last winter, but the Phils are still right in the thick of a chaotic NL wild-card race. Having Kingery on base and wreaking havoc down the stretch will drastically help their chances of reaching October.

6. Austin Meadows, OF, Tampa Bay Rays

You’d be hard-pressed to find a better-run major league baseball operation than the Tampa Bay Rays. Year after year Tampa Bay finds a way to not only compete but also to often triumph over behemoth division rivals in Boston and New York all while operating in one of the smallest markets in the game. The 2019 season has been no different, as despite the Yankees having the AL East all but sewn up, the Rays are positioned to make the postseason as a wild card. Their young right fielder is a huge reason why. Meadows was acquired in the ’18 deal that sent Chris Archer to Pittsburgh, and he has absolutely thrived in his first full season in the big leagues. In just short of 400 at-bats thus far, the left handed slugger has hit .283 with 20 home runs and 25 additional extra-base hits. He was even named an All-Star last month. Moving down the stretch, Tampa will continue riding the young 24-year-old, as he’s already become arguably the focal point of the offense.

7. Matt Olson, 1B, Oakland Athletics

Oakland is eerily similar to the aforementioned Rays, as it deals with a lot of the same market challenges but still finds a way to remain a force to be reckoned with. In fact, there’s a reasonable chance the two clubs square off head to head in the AL wild-card game in just a few weeks. The Athletics left-handed-swinging first baseman has flown by under the radar in recent seasons, but his production is soon going to render that impossible. After missing a month-and-a-half early in the season, Olson has rallied to crush 25 home runs since Mother’s Day, putting him just four short of his previous career high. With Matt Chapman, Marcus Semien, Stephen Piscotty, Mark Canha and most importantly a healthy Khris Davis, the A’s are exceedingly right-handed heavy, making Olson’s left-handed bat imperative to the middle of their lineup.

8. Victor Robles, CF, Washington Nationals

Robles was supposed to be the next big outfielder to come out of the Nationals system last season, but injuries prevented him from making an impact and ultimately contributed to Juan Soto coming up and making a bid for last year’s NL Rookie of the Year. While his young teammate has blossomed into a star, Robles breakout rookie season has not been discussed as much as it should. Yet he’s become a critical player on a team looking to return to October. Playing in almost all of Washington’s games, Robles has launched 15 long balls from the bottom part of the lineup while swiping 18 bases and playing tremendous defense at the premium position of center field. He does strike out too much, as his 110 punch outs in just 397 at-bats are unsightly, but he’s obviously immensely talented. If he can turn it up just a little, Washington should have the inside track on a playoff berth.

9. Josh Taylor, RP, Boston Red Sox

The underlying narrative surrounding the 2019 Red Sox nationally has been a horrific bullpen that consistently blows leads and lets winnable games get out of hand. That’s accurate, but it’s also why few fans outside of New England have been privy to what Taylor, a 26-year-old rookie, has been doing. In 33 contests the southpaw has worked to a strong 3.27 ERA in 33 innings while delivering a 1.18 WHIP and striking out well over a batter/inning. The Arizona native has delivered six scoreless outings in consecutive appearances while becoming the closest thing the Red Sox have had to a reliable relief pitcher. That will have to continue moving forward for Boston to have any chance to make a late surge, as barring a serious run, the defending champs will find themselves on the outside looking in come October.

https://www.yardbarker.com/mlb/articles/10_mlb_players_who_will_make_a_difference_down_the_stretch/s1_13132_29761247

By: Justin W Mears

Best second-half MLB teams of wild-card era

Whether it comes as a strong finish to an already dominant season or an amazing comeback, or it’s a newly emerged contender coming out of nowhere, there have been some remarkable finishes in the recent history of Major League Baseball. The wild-card era has ushered in far more opportunity for the postseason than ever before but also has raised the stakes within the pursuit.

With 2019’s pennant chase preparing to take shape, let’s take a look back some of the great finishes of baseball’s modern postseason era. 1 of 20

Seattle Mariners, 1995

After owning a 34-35 record at the All-Star break, the ’95 Mariners went from last to first place in the season’s second half. Ken Griffey Jr returned from a two-month absence to hit 10 home runs over the final two months, Edgar Martinez won the AL batting title and Randy Johnson won his first Cy Young Award. The Mariners bested the California Angels in a tie-breaker game to claim their first division title in franchise history. They reached the AL Championship Series, led by a legendary performance by Martinez against the Yankees in the ALDS. Seattle lost to Cleveland in the ALCS. 2 of 20

Chicago Cubs, 1998

While the summer of ’98 is best known for the home run race between Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire, it also is known for a tight NL playoff race. Sosa’s Cubs were one of the hottest teams in the game in the middle of the year before cooling off late. Meanwhile, Barry Bonds and the San Francisco Giants won nine of their last 12 games to catch the Cubs. The teams squared off in one-game playoff in which Bonds nearly hit a ninth-inning grand slam amid a Giants rally that fell short. The Cubs hung on to win, and they reached the playoffs for the first time in nine years. 3 of 20

New York Yankees, 1998

Not all memorable second-half performances included airtight races to the finish. Take the case of one of the greatest teams of all time, the ’98 Yankees. They were dominant from start to finish, winning 20 games in three separate months en route to a record 114-win season. They won the AL East by 22 games, with a breakout season for a young Derek Jeter, who hit .324 with 203 hits. They finished the season 66 games over .500 and set a record for most wins in a season, 125, after sweeping the San Diego Padres in the World Series. 4 of 20

Cleveland Indians, 2001

Aided by Minnesota’s huge collapse, the 2001 Indians staged an incredible comeback to claim an AL Central title. After reaching the All-Star break 23 games over .500, the Twins dropped 15 of their first 20 second-half contests, losing their grip on the division in the process. Meanwhile, behind a 49-homer season from Jim Thome, after being five games back at the All-Star break, the Indians finished six games ahead to win a sixth AL Central title since 1995, going 9-3 against Minnesota in the second half. 5 of 20

Oakland Athletics, 2001

In the wild-card era, no team has had more second-half success than the 2001 A’s. They set a 162-game schedule record by going 63-18 over their final 81 games, which included an incredible 29-4 record over the season’s final month. Led by their hallowed three-ace rotation of Barry Zito, Mark Mulder and Tim Hudson, along with a string of incredible starts from Cory Lidle, who went 11-2 after the break, the A’s set a record for most wins by a wild-card team with 102. It also was the most wins by a second-place club, but they still finished 14 games behind the record-setting 2001 Seattle Mariners.

6 of 20

Seattle Mariners, 2001

Led by an incredible jolt of energy from MVP/Rookie of the Year Ichiro Suzuki, the 2001 Seattle Mariners tied the 1906 Chicago Cubs for the most regular-season wins in history with 116. The team never posted a double-digit loss total in any month and saved the best for last. From Sept. 1 through Oct. 7, they went 20-7, with a 4-3 loss on the season’s final day, costing them a chance to set the outright record for most wins in a season. 7 of 20

Oakland Athletics, 2002

For a second consecutive season, in 2002 Oakland channeled second-half magic, going 24-4 in August, a run that included the bulk of one of the greatest winning streaks in MLB history. Oakland went undefeated from Aug.13 to Sept. 4, embarking on an AL-record 20-game winning streak — which included walk-off wins during the final three victories of the streak. However, taking over the division outright required a second, shorter winning spree, when Oakland won nine of its final 11 games over divisional foes to win the AL West. It was a season that changed the way the sport is perceived and inspired the book and movie”‘Moneyball.” 8 of 20

Florida Marlins, 2003

The 2003 Marlins are the definition of a team that got hot at just the right time. After losing eight of their final nine games in August, Florida entered the final month 13 games back in the NL East and barely in control of a wild-card spot. However, its “team of destiny” run — which included an NLCS victory aided by the “Bartman Game” vs. the Cubs and a stunning upset of the New York Yankees in the World Series — got underway quickly in September. Jack McKeon’s club went 10-2 to start the month and won seven of its last nine to claim the NL wild-card spot. 9 of 20

Minnesota Twins, 2006

In 2006, the Twins pulled off the biggest second-half comeback of the last quarter century, erasing an 11-game deficit in the process. With Johan Santana embarking on a 13-0 second half en route to claiming AL Cy Young Award honors, Justin Morneau capturing AL MVP and Joe Mauer being crowned as AL batting champion, the Twins went 49-27 in the second half. This allowed them to track down the Detroit Tigers, who had posted the game’s top record in the first half but stumbled south of .500 following the All-Star break. Ultimately the Twins won the AL Central on the final day of the season. 10 of 20

Colorado Rockies, 2007

On Sept. 15, Colorado was barely above .500 and 6.5 games back of the San Diego Padres. However, the Rockies soon turned the booster jets on, winning 13 of their final 14 games to incredibly reach 90 wins and force a one-game playoff for the NL wild-card spot. The game featured another incredible comeback, as the Rockies rallied from a two-run deficit in the bottom of the 13th inning, capped by Matt Holliday scoring a still-disputed run on a Jamey Carroll sacrifice fly to send the Rockies back to the postseason for the first time in six seasons.

By: Matt Whitener

https://www.yardbarker.com/mlb/articles/best_second_half_mlb_teams_of_wild_card_era/s1__29700269#slide_1

Yankees Shock Indians, Advance To ALCS To Face Houston

Written by Tom Verducci at SI.com

Playoff baseball today is to playoff baseball just three years ago as the iPhone is to a rotary phone. Among the early adopters, no team has mastered the modern game better than the New York Yankees.

Those traditionally quaint notions of playing small ball, bunting, hitting behind runners, stringing hits together and counting on starters to pitch deep into a postseason game are antiquated. Ever since a hotter, tighter version of the baseball appeared in the second half of the 2015 season, what wins now are home runs (a record number of which were hit this year) and relievers (who pitched a record number of innings with a record number of strikeouts).

The Yankees, who led the world in home runs and built the second-toughest bullpen to hit all-time, have figured out this equation. They displayed their firm grasp of the modern game yet again Wednesday night with a 5–2 win over Cleveland in ALDS Game 5, clinching a spot in the championship series against Houston.

Shortstop Didi Gregorius, who was such a lousy hitter when he arrived in New York in 2015 that he needed remedial hitting lessons, smashed two homers off tarnished Indians ace Corey Kluber to account for a 3–0 lead, and that was that. No need for rallies. Two swings were enough to win because relievers David Robertson and Aroldis Chapman faced 14 hitters while allowing no hits and only one ball to even leave the infield.

“Once I saw this team had like four closers,” said designated hitter Matt Holliday, “and really five with the emergence of Chad Green, I knew this was a team that can win the World Series.”

The poor, tortured Indians lost their sixth straight potential clincher, and 18th such game in their past 22 tries, starting with Game 7 of the 1997 World Series. On to a 70th year trying to win their next World Series. They went home having failed to hit a home run in Games 3 and 5 in their latest three-game postseason losing streak. Over the past two postseasons, teams are 6–30 when they don’t hit a home run, an 83% consignment to defeat.

To continue reading this article, click here.

Yankees Dominated Indians, Force Game 5 of ALDS

Written by Mike Vaccaro at New York Post.com

The Sinatra sing-along had a little more juice this time around. The 27th out, a fastball that Tommy Kahnle whipped past Lonnie Chisenhall, was greeted with an extra dash of thunder. The walk back to the parking lot didn’t seem quite as melancholy; suddenly it seemed this might not be the last such walk of the season.

A funny thing happened these last two nights at Yankee Stadium. The Cleveland Indians, who had been virtually unbeatable, practically bulletproof, for more than a month, lost a layer or two of that confident veneer. The bats, among the noisiest in baseball, were quieted. The gloves sprang a few leaks.

The swagger that fueled them through all the winning? You had to squint to see any.

A funnier thing happened these last two nights at Yankee Stadium. Instead of feeling sorry for themselves after blowing a five-run lead in Game 2, the Yankees got after the Indians. Greg Bird clobbered the only ball that mattered Sunday. On Monday, they made Cleveland pay for every mistake — and there were plenty. And for a second straight night, they received a pitching performance to take your breath away.

Here’s the funniest thing that happened these last two nights at Yankee Stadium:

The Yankees, left for dead Saturday morning, are alive, and they are well, and they will take their chances at a win-or-be-gone Game 5 Wednesday night in Cleveland after this 7-3 victory that tied the American League Division Series at two games apiece.

“There’s a lot of confidence in that room right now,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “There’s a lot of guys who pick each other up and grind out at-bats, pitchers who make big pitches. It ought to be a lot of fun on Wednesday.”

To continue reading this article, click here.

Yankees Steal Game Three From Indians, Don’t Get Swept

Written by Dan Martin at New York Post.com

Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez have hit home runs at a record-setting pace since arriving in The Bronx.

In Sunday night’s season-extending, 1-0 win over the Indians in Game 3 of the ALDS, they kept the Yankees alive with their defense.
Judge saved a two-run home run by Francisco Lindor in the sixth inning to keep the game scoreless, which it remained until Greg Bird gave the Yankees the lead in the bottom of the seventh with a solo shot off Andrew Miller.

And Sanchez, criticized for his difficulty in preventing wild pitches, made several superb blocks behind the plate on Masahiro Tanaka splitters in the dirt with Jason Kipnis on third in the fourth inning.

But it was Judge’s play that really made the difference on a night he went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts and a walk.

After Tanaka gave up a leadoff single to Roberto Perez in the sixth, he got Giovanny Urshela to fly out to right.

Lindor, whose sixth-inning grand slam at Progressive Field on Friday turned around Game 2 — a game the Indians went on to win in 13 innings — nearly went deep again.

He sent a Tanaka pitch deep to right. Judge went back, just in front of the wall, and at 6-foot-7, he had to jump only a few inches to get his glove above the fence, where he kept the ball in the park — and away from ball hawk Zack Hample, who famously caught Alex Rodriguez’s 3000th hit.

Tanaka twice doffed his cap in Judge’s direction after the play before Judge responded with a smile.

To continue reading this article, click here.

Indians Shutout Yanks, Win Game One 4-0

Written by Dan Martin at New York Post.com

After Luis Severino bombed in Tuesday’s wild-card game, it figured there was no way Sonny Gray could be any worse.
Though Gray managed to make it out of the first inning of the Yankees’ 4-0 loss to the Indians in Game 1 of the ALDS on Thursday, he wasn’t much better.

Gray gave up three runs in just 3 ¹/₃ innings, walking four and surrendering a two-run homer to ex-Met Jay Bruce in his playoff debut with the Yankees.

“Jay Bruce is the guy that really hurt him,” Joe Girardi said. “Besides that, he pitched pretty well.”

That doesn’t do the Yankees much good.

And it hardly was the performance the Yankees were looking for when they traded three prospects to Oakland before the trade deadline to acquire the right-hander.

“It’s tough,” Gray said. “I put everyone on our side in a disadvantage. I put us in a hole we weren’t able to climb out of.”

Gray loaded the bases with no one out in the bottom of the second by allowing a double to Bruce and a single to Carlos Santana, then he hit Lonnie Chisenhall with a pitch.Gray was able to minimize the damage by getting Roberto Perez to hit into a double play that scored Bruce, then Giovanny Urshela flied to right to keep it 1-0.He retired the side in order in the third but found trouble again in the fourth.He walked Edwin Encarnacion to lead off the inning before Bruce hit a towering fly ball that reached the seats in right to give the Indians a 3-0 lead.

He left with two runners on, but Adam Warren prevented Gray’s outing from being even worse, getting the final two outs of the inning without allowing another run.

To continue reading this article, click here.

Yankees Vs Indians Game One Preview

Written by Anthony Castrovince at MLB.com

In this brave new world in which the Indians — the team with the longest World Series championship drought of any in baseball — are the established postseason juggernaut and the Yankees — the team with more championships than any team in baseball — are the unexpected October entrant, an intriguing and attractive American League Division Series presented by Doosan awaits.

The Indians got to today’s Game 1 at Progressive Field pretty much as expected, living up to their promise and potential in the wake of last year’s crushing World Series Game 7 loss to the Cubs with an all-in effort that included the famous 22-game win streak and a not-so-random roll to the AL Central title. The Yankees, on the other hand, got here arguably ahead of schedule, largely on the back of an insane rookie season from Aaron Judge, whose huge home run helped seal an 8-4 AL Wild Card Game win over the Twins on Tuesday night.

Regardless of how they got here, what they bring us is a matchup of loaded lineups, bruising bullpens and a little personal history mixed in.

Maybe the midges from the 2007 ALDS between these two teams will even make an appearance for old time’s sake.

“It’s an exciting time,” Yankees starter Sonny Gray said. “It’s going to be an exciting game.”

With all due respect to Gray and the Tribe’s surprise Game 1 starter Trevor Bauer, it seems bullpens will be a clear key to this series. The Indians are so confident in the depth of their staff that they’ve opted to push AL Cy Young Award favorite Corey Kluber to Game 2. The expectation is that Bauer will essentially share the game with a deep Tribe ‘pen in which would-be starters Danny Salazar and Mike Clevinger and superb setup man — and former Yankee — Andrew Miller can shorten things up.

“We’re going to get to our bullpen if we have a lead,” manager Terry Francona said. Gray made his Yankees debut against the Indians in this building in August. The Yanks will also turn to former Tribe ace CC Sabathia in Game 2. But as the Yankees demonstrated in the wild Wild Card Game, in which starter Luis Severino recorded only one out and Chad Green, David Robertson, Tommy Kahnle and Aroldis Chapman combined to allow just one run the rest of the way, they can win even if they don’t get a strong performance from their starter.

To continue reading this article, click here.

Cleveland Indians Win 22nd Straight Game. Longest Streak since 1916

Written by Paul Hoynes at Cleveland.com

The postseason can wait. This streak does not want to become a cold page in history.

This streak wants to live.

Jay Bruce made that so Thursday night as he scored Jose Ramirez from second base with a 10th-inning double to give the Indians a 3-2 victory over the Royals and extend their winning streak to 22 straight games. The Indians, who have not lost a game since Aug. 23, own the longest winning streak in 100 years and the longest — without a tie — in the modern era (since 1900).

Jose Ramirez started the rally with his 50th double of the season — a hustle effort that surprised Royals center fielder Lorenzo Cain to leadoff the inning. Edwin Encarnacion walked before Bruce ended it with a double into the right-field corner off Brandon Maurer (2-2).

Cody Allen, who pitched a scoreless 10th, was the winner

The 10th inning was the final act of Thursday night’s game, but not the most important. Francisco Lindor, with his team down to its last strike in the ninth, revived the streak with a two-out, two-strike double off the left field wall to score Erik Gonzalez to tie the score and force extra innings.

Lindor, who drove in his 20th RBI of the streak, lined a 2-2 pitch from Kelvin Herrera off the wall as Gonzalez scored from first. The ball hit the top of Alex Gordon’s glove before rebounding into the field.

The Indians entered the game tied with the 1935 Cubs for the second-longest winning streak in the modern era. With the Cubs in the rear view mirror, only the 1916 New York Giants and their 26-game streak — segments of 14 and 12 wins wrapped around a tie — remain in front of the Indians.

The Royals took a 2-1 lead on Eric Hosmer’s opposite field double just inside the left field line with two out in the sixth. Hosmer hit a 2-0 pitch from Josh Tomlin that Abraham Almonte, shading Hosmer toward center field, almost caught with a sliding attempt after a long run.

To continue reading this article, click here.

Indians Win 21 Straight Games. Will They Ever Lose?

Written by David Schoenfield at ESPN.com

When the Oakland A’s set the American League record with a 20-game winning streak in 2002, they did so in dramatic fashion. Wins 18, 19 and 20 were all walk-off victories, with No. 20 the famous Scott Hatteberg pinch-hit home run after the A’s had blown an 11-0 lead. A’s executive Billy Beane recently said he knew the streak was over at that point; the team was gassed.

The Cleveland Indians, on the other hand, look like they may never lose again. They beat the Tigers 5-3 on an overcast Wednesday afternoon in Cleveland for their 21st win in a row.

After the Tigers took the lead in the top of the first, the Indians immediately struck back when Jay Bruce hit a three-run homer with two outs, just clearing the fence in left-center. After the Tigers clawed back to 4-3, Roberto Perez iced the win with a home run in the seventh and Cody Allen closed it out with a 1-2-3 ninth. Cleveland tied the 1935 Cubs at 21 straight, with only the 1916 New York Giants looming on the horizon at 26 straight wins.

It’s a remarkable, dominant stretch of baseball. The Indians have trailed just four innings in the 21 games, have needed just three one-run victories, and have obliterated their opponents on both sides of the ball with a plus-104 differential — that’s an average winning margin of 4.95 runs per game.

Some highlights from the streak:

MVP during the streak: This is a tough one. Jose Ramirez has hit .388 and slugged .910 thanks to eight home runs and nine doubles and has 16 RBIs. Francisco Lindor has hit .370 with nine home runs and 19 RBIs. Neither has made an error, and Ramirez’s ability to slide over from third base to second base with Jason Kipnis out has been vital.

Ramirez went 4-for-4 in a 2-1 win over the Yankees in Game 6 and had five extra-base hits in an 11-1 win over the Tigers in Game 11. Lindor had the go-ahead single in the ninth inning against the Tigers back in Game 8, had the leadoff home run in a 2-0 victory in Game 20, and had home runs in the sixth and seventh innings against the Orioles in Games 17 and 18 that turned one-run leads into two-run leads.

To continue reading this article, click here.