Just one swing of the bat can spoil an otherwise standout pitching performance in the postseason.
Pitching and defense were the names of the game when the Cleveland Indians and New York Yankees met in Game 3 of the 2017 American League Division Series at Yankee Stadium in The Bronx Sunday night, that is until the seventh inning.
The Yankees took a one-run lead over the Indians with Greg Bird’s home run in the bottom of the seventh inning, and never looked back, as they earned a 1-0 victory in front of the home fans and staved off elimination from the postseason for at least one more day.
Bird turned on a 1-1 pitch from Indians reliever Andrew Miller and sent it into the second level of seats in right field for the tie-breaking home run. It was only the second home run Miller allowed to a left-handed hitter all season.
Ironically enough, before Miller gave up the home run to Bird, he helped keep the game scoreless in the bottom of the sixth inning.
After a leadoff single from center fielder Aaron Hicks and a double play off the bat of left fielder Brett Gardner, Carrasco walked right fielder Aaron Judge and shortstop Didi Gregorius, and gave up a single to catcher Gary Sanchez in-between the free passes, the second of which brought his first playoff appearance to a close.
In relief, Miller got Yankees second baseman Starlin Castro to pop out to shortstop Francisco Lindor in short left field to end the threat and keep the game scoreless heading into the seven inning.
In his first-ever start in the Major League Baseball Playoffs, Carrasco allowed just three hits but surrendered three walks against seven strikeouts over 5.2 innings of work at Yankee Stadium, where he was 3-1 with a 1.40 earned run average, 31 strikeouts and six walks in four career starts in The Bronx.
The Indians had their chances to take the lead, but could not deliver the big run-producing hits.
After a slow start against Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, the Indians looked to be in business in the top of the fourth inning.
Center fielder Jason Kipnis smashed a triple off of the glove of Judge with one out in the fourth inning, but Tanaka struck out second baseman Jose Ramirez and right fielder Jay Bruce to end the threat and keep the game scoreless.
Then, in the top of the sixth inning, Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor blasted a 1-1 pitch from Tanaka to deep right field, and it appeared headed for the seats, but Judge tracked the ball from the crack of the bat and timed his reach perfectly to take away the home run.
Having won the first two games of the best-of-five series at Progressive Field, the Indians will look to advance to the American League Championship Series for the second straight season when they take on the Yankees in Game 4 at Yankee Stadium Monday night.