The winning rally began when Austin Jackson drew a walk from Dellin Betances to start the 13th and then stole second. Gomes then fouled off four two-strike pitches before hitting a hard bouncer just inside the third-base bag and just out of the reach of Torreyes. It easily scored Jackson and sent the Indians racing out of the third-base dugout to celebrate.
That was the final bit of unraveling for the Yankees that began hours earlier when Manager Joe Girardi pulled C.C. Sabathia with one out in the sixth, even though the left-hander had recovered from a rocky start to retire 12 of 13 batters., His pitch count was only at 77.
Credit David Dermer/Associated Press
But with Sabathia out of the game, the heavy toll of Tuesday’s wild-card win by the Yankees — in which the starter Luis Severino got only one out before the game was turned over to the bullpen — suddenly kicked in.
Green had been one of the Yankees’ most reliable relievers in the second half of the season, but he had been forced to throw 41 pitches in helping to bail out Severino. And facing Lindor, with the bases loaded, he proceeded to give up his first home run since July 27, a blast that hit off the right-field foul pole and sent Lindor on a joyous trip around the bases.
Meanwhile, Robertson, who threw a career-high 52 pitches on Tuesday, had not allowed a home run since July 29. But Bruce, whom the Yankees tried in vain to acquire from the Mets in August, continued to torment them for the second consecutive night, blasting a 3-1 pitch from Robertson deep into the left-center field bleachers to tie the game at 8-8.
“The last thing I wanted to do was walk him,’’ Roberston said after the game. “I wanted to make him hit the ball. I just didn’t expect him to hit an opposite-field home run right there.’’
The Yankees had two good chances to regain the lead, but Cleveland’s side-arming right-hander, Joe Smith, froze Sanchez with a called third strike to end the ninth with Todd Frazier on third. Cody Allen then retired Chase Headley on a groundout with runners at the corners to end the 10th inning.
The most crushing unfulfilled opportunity came in the 11th when Torreyes, sent in to pinch run for Frazier, who had reached second on a two-base error, was picked off by the rifle-armed Gomes, who threw from behind the plate on his knees.
“I was trying to be aggressive there, to make sure that I had a good lead ’’ Torreyes lamented later. “I tried to get back as fast as I could but I couldn’t make it. I was out.’’
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The Indians had a threat in the 10th against Aroldis Chapman, whose off-balance throw on Jackson’s dribbler caromed into the camera well, with Jackson awarded second base. But Chapman escaped.
The Yankees had built an 8-3 lead on the backs of the home runs from Sanchez and Hicks and one from Greg Bird. But it was not enough.
After Green replaced Sabathia with one out in the sixth and a runner on first, he got a second out but then gave up a ringing double off the left-field wall to Gomes, putting runners on second and third.
Pinch-hitter Lonnie Chisenhall was then awarded first base when he was hit on the hand by a pitch from Green, or so home-plate umpire Dan Iassogna ruled. But Sanchez immediately signaled to the Yankees’ dugout to check the replays, certain that it had hit Chisenhall’s bat.
Brett Weber, the coaching assistant who monitors replays for the Yankees, is regarded as one of the best in baseball and during the three years that the replay system has been implemented, the Yankees have consistently had one of the best challenge rates in baseball.
Though replays appeared to show the ball hitting the knob of Chisenhall’s bat, the Yankees chose not to have the play reviewed. At which point, Lindor came to plate and carved away almost all of the Yankees’ lead with one swing.
“It’s frustrating,’’ Girardi said when asked afterward why the Yankee didn’t appeal. “We had not super slo-mo at that time.’’
But what the Yankees did have was a game that only got more agonziing the longer it went on. And now they are one game from being pushed out of the postseason.