CLEVELAND -- Yan Gomes emerged from the mob, tore away from Josh Tomlin's embrace, and then the Indians catcher punctuated the celebration with one final emphatic fist pump. Gomes was drenched in water and probably wearing a few new bruises from his teammates, but it was worth it given all
CLEVELAND -- Yan Gomes emerged from the mob, tore away from Josh Tomlin's embrace, and then the Indians catcher punctuated the celebration with one final emphatic fist pump. Gomes was drenched in water and probably wearing a few new bruises from his teammates, but it was worth it given all it took to reach that moment.
"The emotion level hasn't quite sunk in yet," Gomes said.
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In a 9-8 walk-off victory in 13 innings over the Yankees on Friday night in Game 2 of the American League Division Series presented by Doosan, Gomes provided the decisive hit with an RBI single down the left-field line off setup man Dellin Betances. After catching 210 pitches, after helping the offense chip away to overcome a rare off night for ace Corey Kluber, and after a critical pickoff play in the 11th inning, Gomes sent the Tribe into Saturday's off-day with a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series. Game 3 is set for tonight at 7:30 p.m. ET on FS1 at Yankee Stadium.
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It had been a decade since the Indians enjoyed a walk-off win in the postseason. Travis Hafner was the hero back then, delivering a single to end the "Bug Game" in Game 2 of the 2007 ALDS against the Yanks. Gomes followed suit against New York this time around, firing his helmet away as Tomlin tackled him, Giovanny Urshela unleashed the first wave of water, and the mob surrounded Gomes as fireworks lit up the sky over Progressive Field.
"It was unbelievable," Tomlin said. "He's sitting down for as long as he was, what was it, five hours now? He goes up there and puts together a professional at-bat and gets the job done. It speaks to the intensity he comes with every single day and the type of person that he is. There's never any quit in him. That showed tonight."
The final battle with Betances was the only example necessary.
Gomes locked horns with the 6-foot-8 right-hander for 12 pitches, including five foul balls. During the game's final at-bat, Betances stepped off the mound twice, was visited by manager Joe Girardi once, and he allowed a stolen base to Austin Jackson, who opened the 13th inning with a walk. The seventh pitch of the at-bat was fouled straight back, striking home-plate umpire Dan Iassogna in the mask and forcing him to a knee.
Through it all, Gomes maintained his focus and rhythm, and he shot the last pitch beyond the reach of diving third baseman Ronald Torreyes.
"Gomer fought through that at-bat the whole way," Cleveland manager Terry Francona said.
Just one day ago, Francona was still wrestling with whether to give Gomes or Roberto Perez the start behind the plate with Kluber on the mound. The catchers have split the duties all season long, but Perez handled the bulk of the innings in September and he had worked well with Kluber a handful of times. Francona stuck with Gomes, and while Kluber exited before the end of the third, the decision paid off in the end.
"He was fouling off tough pitches, taking tough pitches," Jackson said. "He looked like he wanted to get it done. I think we all wanted to get it done and get some rest."
That game-winning moment was made possible in part by a stellar defensive play by Gomes, too.
In the 11th inning, Todd Frazier chopped a pitch to third baseman Erik Gonzalez, who gloved the ball and fired it wildy beyond the reach of Indians first baseman Carlos Santana. When the ball sailed into the camera pit, Frazier moved up to second base and was removed in favor of Torreyes as a pinch-runner. After the Tribe had tied it at 8, it looked like the Yankees had the break they needed.
One pitch later, Yanks leadoff man Brett Gardner showed bunt, Torreyes bounced into his secondary lead and Gomes saw his window. Gomes caught the pitch from closer Cody Allen and fired a throw from his knees to shortstop Francisco Lindor. According to Statcast™, Gomes' pop time was an impressive 1.88 seconds, and his swift reaction led to a perfectly-timed tag by Lindor.
"That's a play that Lindor and I always look to do," Gomes said. "Anytime somebody fake bunts or something, we're always trying to pick behind."
Torreyes was initially called safe, but the Tribe challenged and the call was overturned.
"I'm glad we've got replay," Lindor said with a smile. "Yan Gomes is one of the best throwing catchers in the league."
Gomes came through in a variety of ways in this one.
"That's what you call October baseball right there," he said. "It's a good feeling right now."
Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.