The New York Yankees overcame a 2-0 deficit against the Cleveland Indians in the ALDS, winning three straight games to advance to the ALCS for the first time since 2012.
The Yankees lost Game 1 and squandered a five-run lead in Game 2. Their season seemed all but over.
Then they won Games 3-5 by a combined score of 13-5, stunning a team that went 33-4 in its final 37 games of the season.
“I think Cleveland went into it (feeling pressure),” MLB.com analyst and four-time World Series champion Jeff Nelson said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “Because all the expectations of them having the best record in the American League and not winning the (World Series since) 1948 and (losing to the Cubs last year) – I saw from the beginning, even from Game 2 when they came back on the Yankees, they were really playing tight. The Yankees played nice and loose and never panicked. They always believed in themselves. When you have a team that’s not supposed to be there and plays nice and loose, anything can happen.”
The Indians, on the other hand, committed four errors in Game 4 and three errors in Game 5.
It was stunning.
“This is a team that, besides the Marlins, had the fewest errors in all of Major League Baseball,” Nelson said. “Just their approach – (Jose) Ramirez went out and really had a bad series. He’ll probably finish in the top five in the MVP in the American League. (Francisco) Lindor, the only hit he really got was the grand slam. Jay Bruce came up big and (Roberto) Perez came up big. (Edwin) Encarnacion, he got hurt. (Michael) Brantley, because of the time off and him being on the DL, he wasn’t the same. Jason Kipnis out in center field – it just seem like everything that they did, there was a lot of pressure. They did have a lot of pressure on themselves. Getting back to the World Series is really difficult. It’s just so tough to get there, and I think they put a lot of pressure on themselves. They played great during the regular season, but the postseason is a different animal.”
The Yankees, meanwhile, will face the Astros in the ALCS. Game 1 is Friday in Houston at 8:08 p.m. ET.
New York – with a patient, potent offense and a deep bullpen – can advance to the World Series for the first time since 2009.
“That’s what makes them so scary,” said Nelson, who played for the Yankees from 1996-2000 and again in 2003. “Everybody in that lineup can put together a great at-bat and be a hero for that night. It’s just non-stop. This is a fun team to watch.”