The Cleveland Indians set a major league baseball record this season by winning 22 games in a row. But they'd give every one of those wins back if it meant they'd still be playing playoff baseball in October.
The Indians season came crashing to a halt last night, at home, with a 5-2 loss to the NY Yankees, who shrugged off a two games to none deficit to win three straight and shock a club that looked unbeatable in the late stages of the regular season.
Didi Gregorius led the charge on offense, hitting two home runs in the first three innings off Cleveland ace Corey Kluber, who may well win the American League Cy Young award this year, which takes into account only regular season performance. Kluber certainly wouldn't accept the award on behalf of his playoff record, which consisted of just two games against the Yankees, one in which he was knocked out early, and last night's, in which he couldn't get out of the fourth.
On the other side of the hill, former Cleveland ace CC Sabathia is now a grizzled veteran, and he gave the Yankees exactly what they needed, maintaining a lead he could hand over to their formidable bullpen. After the Indians narrowed the lead to 3-2, Sabathia gave way to David Robertson, who blanked Cleveland for two and two thirds, and Aroldis Chapman pitched the last two innings for the save and the win that propels the Yankees into the American League championship series against the Houston Astros.
The comeback means Yankees manager Joe Girardi will almost certainly keep his job, something that would have angered many Yankees fans has Cleveland won the series. Girardi's failure to challenge a wrong call on a hit batsman in game two led to Cleveland's comeback win in that game to put New York in an 0-2 hole, but all that is a footnote to history now that the Yankees have roared back to take the series.
In Chicago, the Washington Nationals rode a brilliant pitching performance by fireballer Stephen Strasburg to a 5-0 win that evens the NLDS at two games apiece. Strasburg struck out 12 over seven innings for his first career playoff victory, and Michael Talyor hit an opposite field grand slam in the eighth that fell into the basket overhanging the brick wall in Wrigley's right field, which broke open a tight 1-0 game.
So it all comes down to a deciding game five in the nation's capital tonight. Kyle Hendricks gets the ball for the Cubs but Washington manager Dusty Baker has yet to announce his game five starter. I no longer find the Cubs lovable after breaking their 108 year World Series drought, and Anthony Rizzo's chest thumping and demand to be respected after the Nats dared to pitch to him with first base open in game three was the nail in that coffin. The Nationals have never won a World Series and you have to go back to the Senators in 1924 to find a time when a D.C.-based club has won it all, so I'm all in on the Nats, especially now that Cleveland is out and nursing what's become a 69-year title drought, baseball's longest.
I mentioned a moment ago that Yankees manager Joe Girardi's job is almost certainly safe, but the same cannot be said for Red Sox manager John Farrell, who was fired yesterday following Boston's playoff ouster at the hands of the Houston Astros.
Is it fair to let Farrell be the fall guy for the Red Sox bowing out in the ALDS for a second straight year? Probably not. Farrell leaves his post as the only Red Sox manager to guide the team to back to back A.L. East division titles and he was the guy who managed the 2013 team to a championship. But you could also argue that Farrell lost control of a team that had too many off field distractions this season, and should not have sent Chris Sale back out to pitch the eighth in game four after he'd already delivered four innings of scoreless relief on three days rest.
But Monday morning quarterbacking, to mix a sports metaphor, is easy to do. What's harder is something more substantial and relevant, which is to create a roster that has a better balance of power and pitching. I applaud Dave Dombrowski's emphasis on pitching and defense, but the Red Sox were the only team in Major League baseball that did not hit a grand slam in 2017, and they were 27th out of 30 teams in home runs overall. One season after losing one of the best power hitters in history with the retirement of David Ortiz, that was a hole that needed to be filled, and wasn't.
In the NHL the Boston Bruins lost for a second straight game to the Colorado Avalanche, blown out 6-3 in Denver, and the New Jersey Devils beat the Toronto Maple Leafs by that same score in Toronto. The Devils are unbeaten so far this season.
Three different goal scorers all tallied in the second half for the Middlebury Panthers in their 3-0 shut out of Castleton yesterday. Amanda Dafonte, Virginia Charman, and Leah Salzman all scored to improve the Panthers to 9-2-1 on the season.
Madison Oelker thrilled the Northfield crowd with a breakaway goal, her third of the season, but it was the only tally for the Norwich Cadets in their 3-1 loss to Regis.
And no one could get on the board in a 0-0 draw between St. Michael's and St. Anselm in New Hampshire yesterday, but Barre native Megan LeCours made 11 saves in net for the Purple Knights, the junior's third shutout of the year.
In men’s college soccer, goals by Geo Alves and Justin Freitas gave UVM a 2-1 road win over Stony Brook, and the Catamounts climb a game above .500 at 7-6 with the victory.
Drew Goulart scored the only goal of the game for the Middlebury Panthers in their 1-0 shut out of Castleton.
The Norwich Cadets recorded the team's biggest offensive output of the season, beating Lasell 7-0. Caros Guerra scored twice for the Cadets, who also got goals from two Vermonters, Montpelier's Ivan Bansah and Staige Davis of Shelburne as the Cadets improve to 6-3-4 on the year.
A much closer contest in Canton, New York, as the Lyndon State Hornets went to overtime against Canton, but came up short in a 1-0 loss when Canton scored in the 92nd minute to claim the victory.