The Yankees had a healthy four-run lead entering the top of the eighth inning Monday, and Dellin Betances took the ball after a dynamite start by Luis Severino. The sold-out Yankee Stadium crowd was cheering wildly, demanding six more outs to send the ALDS back to Cleveland for Game 5.
But Betances quickly caused those cheers to turn into thunderous boos, after he walked both pinch hitter Yan Gomes and Francisco Lindor to open the inning. Betances’ pitches were all over the place, and Cleveland had two runners on with no outs, and slugger Jason Kipnis strolling to the plate.
“I felt like I was a little too all-over, a little out of whack, but I’ve got to thank Tommy Kahnle. He did a hell of a job behind me, but I can’t put him in that situation. I’ve got to be better than that,” said Betances, referring to his teammate Kahnle preserving the Yankee victory and simultaneously earning the save.
Tommy Kahnle celebrates after closing out the Yankees’ 7-3 win.
(Al Bello/Getty Images)
Kahnle said after the 7-3 win that he started warming up when Betances walked Gomes. Following the second walk, Betances got the hook and in came Kahnle, who froze Kipnis on strike three for the first out. He then got Jose Ramirez to fly out to right, and whiffed Yankee killer Jay Bruce to squash the scoring threat.
Kahnle, the right-hander acquired from the White Sox at the trade deadline along with infielder Todd Frazier and reliever David Robertson, came back out in the ninth and proceeded to strike out the side – Carlos Santana and Michael Brantley looking and Lonnie Chisenhall swinging to end the game.
“We’re all prepared to be used,” said Kahnle of the vaunted Yankee bullpen. “Whoever gets the phone call, then they’re going to be ready. Whatever they need me to do. We have plenty of guys to handle the job.”
Betances, meanwhile, said he would have been “upset at myself if the game got out of hand,” but thankfully for him and the Bombers, Kahnle closed the door on the Tribe to send the series back to Cleveland.
Yankees vs. Indians 2017 American League Division Series
“I’m coming in, I’m gonna try to help out my teammate and get out of there without giving up his runs and save the team as well. Just slow down, don’t get too amped up,” said Kahnle. “Whatever they need from me, I’m going to give it to them. I’m prepared for any situation. My whole life I’ve been waiting for this moment.”