Chicago – Didi Gregorius smacked two home runs and the New York Yankees advanced in the Major League Baseball playoffs Wednesday by defeating Cleveland 5-2 while Washington kept its title hopes alive facing elimination as well.
After losing the first two games, the Yankees rallied to defeat the Indians 3-2 in the best-of-five American League Division Series.
Gregorius smacked a solo homer in the first inning and a two-run homer in the third to give the Yankees a 3-0 lead. And after the Indians trimmed the margin to a single run, Brett Gardner added a two-run single in the ninth inning to produce the final margin.
”Didi is the one that set the tone,” said Gardner. ”Didi had two big homers for us. Huge win.”
The victory lifted New York into the best-of-seven American League Championship Series against the Houston Astros that opens Friday in Texas. Houston went 5-2 during the regular season against the Yankees.
In the National League, Washington’s Michael A. Taylor smashed a grand slam in the eighth inning to power the Nationals over the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs 5-0, leveling the best-of-five National League Division Series at 2-2.
The victory set up a winner-take-all fifth game Thursday at Washington, with the victor advancing to the National League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. That best-of-seven showdown begins Saturday in California.
Nationals right-handed pitcher Stephen Strasburg, who had been the focus of a pre-game drama about whether he would take the mound for the biggest game of his career, collected his first playoff triumph despite battling fever and chills a day earlier.