LADY AT THE BAT: Indians Dominate But History On Yankees' Side

Friday, October 6, 2017

Indians Dominate But History On Yankees' Side

The Yankees and Indians have a little history when it comes to playoff competition. Which brings to mind the opening lyrics from the Beatles' Sargent Pepper: "It was twenty years ago today....."

Twenty years ago Thursday, the Cleveland Indians rallied from a 2-1 deficit on the scoreboard, and in games won, in the American League Division Series (ALDS). This was the night Sandy Alomar Jr. took Mariano Rivera deep to right in the 8th inning for a game tying opposite field home run. The Indians won the game with a run off Ramiro Mendoza in the 9th inning. The next night the Indians scored early off Andy Pettitte and sent the Yankees packing from the 1997 post season . Not to worry, despite the loss, the Yankees were defending World Champions from 1996 and, beginning in 1998, the Yankees reeled off three straight championships, narrowly missing a fourth straight championship in 2001.

So despite the rough series loss twenty years ago, things turned out well overall and the Yankees became baseball's last dynasty to date.  

Then, ten years ago, in 2007, the Yankees lost a similar division series, three games to one, to the Indians. Everyone remembers Joba Chamberlain and the "midges on the mound."  But  not all was lost when the Yankees met the Indians in the post season. On the way to 125 victories and the 1998 championship, the Yankees won the American League Championship Series (ALCS) in six games games, beating Cleveland. 

So here we are, Yankees fans,  twenty years after the first post season meeting with Cleveland, and ten years after Joba's battle with the midges.

And the Yankees, series underdogs this year, showed they were overmatched by the defending AL Champion Indians in game one Thursday night. And the good news (for Cleveland) is that Indians ace Corey Kluber is all set to pitch in game two, weather permitting this afternoon.  The Yankees gave their fans little to cheer about, so we will leave it at that. In case you missed it, the Yankees lost 4-0. The Yankees of 2017 do not seem to be championship caliber on the level of Cleveland at this point, though the Indians need to win two more times to seal the deal. 

'Nuff said. 

CC Sabathia is a free agent following the season, so today's start may be the last of his Yankee career. Sunday the Yankees return home for what might also be Masahiro Tanaka's final Yankee start. Tanaka is not a free agent unless he says he is by opting out of his contract. Remember that Tanaka was brilliant in his last regular season outing, striking out a career high 15 in seven shutout innings. Remember, also, that Tanaka was terribly inconsistent throughout the season, though he pitched much better in the Bronx than on the road. Would somebody actually pay Tanaka more money than what remains on his Yankees contract? After this season, it doesn't seem likely, but you never know. We will find out soon enough. 

Back to the series. The Yankees are down one game to none and Cleveland still needs two more wins to finish off the series. Regardless of the outcome, I hope Brian Cashman and the Yankees brass are taking notes on what has made the Cleveland franchise successful. The Yankees appear to be on the doorstep of greatness themselves and an off season move or two, plus more player development from within might elevate this Yankees franchise to championship caliber.

Not that it would bother any of us to have this Yankees team arrive there a little early.  

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