The winning rally began when Austin Jackson drew a walk from Dellin Betances to start the 13th and then stole second. Gomes then fouled off four two-strike pitches before hitting a hard bouncer just inside the third-base bag and just out of the reach of Torreyes. It easily scored Jackson and sent the Indians racing out of the third-base dugout to celebrate.
“It’s tough any way you cut it,” said Greg Bird, who gave the Yankees an 8-3 cushion in the fifth with a two-run home run. “We’ve got to bounce back, big time.”
The hit by Gomes was the final bit of an unraveling for the Yankees that began hours earlier when Manager Joe Girardi pulled C. C. Sabathia with one out in the sixth, even though the left-hander had recovered from a rocky start to retire 12 of 13 batters. His pitch count was only at 77.
But with Sabathia out of the game, the heavy toll of Tuesday’s wild-card win by the Yankees — in which the starter Luis Severino got only one out before the game was turned over to the bullpen — suddenly kicked in.
Green had been one of the Yankees’ most reliable relievers in the second half of the season, but he had to throw 41 pitches in helping to bail out Severino. And facing Lindor, with the bases loaded, he proceeded to give up his first home run since July 27, a blast that hit off the right-field foul pole and sent Lindor on a joyous trip around the bases.
“I feel like I take the blame tonight,” said Green, who gave up Lindor’s slam on his 23d pitch of the night. “I’ve got to do a better job getting out of that inning right there.”
Robertson, who threw a career-high 52 pitches on Tuesday, had not allowed a home run since July 29. But Bruce, whom the Yankees tried in vain to acquire from the Mets in August, continued to torment them for the second consecutive night, blasting a 3-1 pitch from Robertson deep into the left-center field bleachers to tie the game at 8-8.
“The last thing I wanted to do was walk him,” said Robertson, who allowed Bruce’s homer on his 22nd pitch of the night. “I wanted to make him hit the ball. I just didn’t expect him to hit an opposite-field home run right there.”
The Yankees had two good chances to regain the lead, but Cleveland’s side-arming right-hander, Joe Smith, froze Sanchez with a called third strike to end the ninth with Todd Frazier on third. Cody Allen then retired Chase Headley on a groundout with runners at the corners to end the 10th inning.
The most crushing unfulfilled opportunity came in the 11th, when Torreyes — sent in to pinch-run for Frazier, who had reached second on a two-base error — was picked off by the rifle-armed Gomes, who threw from behind the plate on his knees.
“I was trying to be aggressive there, to make sure that I had a good lead “ Torreyes lamented later. “I tried to get back as fast as I could, but I couldn’t make it. I was out.”
As much as the Yankees lamented that play, it was the hit-by-pitch call in the bottom of the sixth and the Yankees’ failure to appeal it that will be hard for the team to forget.
It came on Green’s third batter of the inning. After he replaced Sabathia with one out and a runner on first, he got a second out but then gave up a ringing double off the left-field wall to Gomes, putting runners on second and third.
Pinch-hitter Lonnie Chisenhall was then awarded first base when, after fouling off four straight two-strike pitches, he was hit on the hand by a pitch from Green. Or so home-plate umpire Dan Iassogna ruled. Sanchez immediately signaled to the Yankees’ dugout to check the replays, certain that the ball had hit Chisenhall’s bat. Since Sanchez caught the pitch anyway, Chisenhall would have been out on strikes if the play had been ruled a foul ball.
Brett Weber, the coaching assistant who monitors replays for the Yankees, is regarded as one of the best in baseball, and during the three years the expanded replay system has been in effect, the Yankees have consistently had one of the best challenge rates in baseball.
Though super-slow-motion replays appeared to show the ball hitting the knob of Chisenhall’s bat, the Yankees chose not to have the play reviewed because, Girardi said, those replays were not available to Weber until after the 30-second review period had expired.
By the time the Yankees learned that the ball had indeed hit Chisenhall’s bat, Lindor was at the plate, preparing to carve away almost all of the Yankees’ lead with one swing.
“Obviously that turned out to be a huge play, probably the biggest play of the game,” Headley said.
“You’d hope that that would be available,’’ he added of the replay videos. “It’s probably a lot easier for them to see.”
But in this instance, for the Yankees, it apparently wasn’t. And from there, the agony only intensified for them. By the time the game did end, after five hours and eight minutes, their season was on the brink of being over.