Yanks head to Cleveland confident, motivated

New York believes pressure is solely on Tribe for Game 5

Yanks head to Cleveland confident, motivated

NEW YORK -- The stunned silence that had filled the Yankees' clubhouse immediately following their Game 2 loss in the American League Division Series presented by Doosan dissipated somewhere over Pennsylvania that evening, replaced by some level of acceptance that the team would not return home with the even postseason series they had anticipated.

The Yankees refused to allow the Indians to celebrate on Yankee Stadium's turf, riding Luis Severino's strong pitching performance to send the action back west with a 7-3 win in Monday's ALDS Game 4. With a second chance to take care of business in Cleveland, they believe the pressure is now solely on the other side of the table.

Severino sends Yanks to Game 5

Game Date Results Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 5 CLE 4, NYY 0 Watch
Gm 2 Oct. 6 CLE 9, NYY 8 (13) Watch
Gm 3 Oct. 8 NYY 1, CLE 0 Watch
Gm 4 Oct. 9 NYY 7, CLE 3 Watch
Gm 5 Oct. 11 NYY 5, CLE 2 Watch

"When we left Cleveland, our goal was to find a way to send it back to Cleveland for a Game 5," Brett Gardner said. "I think our guys responded very well. I just know the guys in this room. They're going to fight and not give up and keep going until the end. With our backs against the wall, we seem to play a little bit better. We're just motivated."

When Trevor Bauer silenced their bats in Game 1, the Yanks hardly looked ready for prime time, but they erased that impression by jumping on Corey Kluber for a third-inning knockout in Game 2. Greg Bird cracked a two-run homer in that contest that seemed to put away the game before playing the hero in Game 3, launching a majestic solo blast that proved to be the difference.

"You see players mature pretty quickly in these types of games," manager Joe Girardi said. "Moving forward, I think it's important. Obviously, Wednesday is a really big game. Let's see what happens."

Yankees postseason gear

Although it took Aaron Judge 11 ALDS at-bats to pick up his first hit -- and it was a big one, a two-run double in Game 4 -- Gary Sanchez, Aaron Hicks and Starlin Castro have enjoyed strong offensive performances in the ALDS, leading a group of youngsters who are growing up before our eyes.

"We've got the confidence," Castro said. "We've got the opportunity. We're going to Cleveland to do the same thing we're doing here, to play hard and do 100 percent in the field. Let's see what happens."

Though Girardi bore the brunt for a sixth-inning meltdown in Game 2, gamely accepting the criticism on the back pages of the tabloids and the chorus of boos that accompanied the pregame introductions in New York, he said that the players had picked him up.

All would be forgiven if the Yankees can end the Tribe's season tonight.

"When you go in somewhere and you can split the first couple of games, you kind of feel like, 'Mission Accomplished,'" Chase Headley said. "We had an opportunity to do that, and to let a big one slip away was disappointing, but I think guys were confident that we could beat these guys. I think we've played fairly well, for the most part."

So have the Indians, even though they never held a lead at any point during their brief stay in New York. After two sellout crowds rocked the house in the Bronx, the Yanks will have to earn their next step by winning a single postseason game in front of a hostile audience.

"At this point, to be honest, we really don't have a choice," Cleveland's Jay Bruce said. "After Game 5, there is no tomorrow when it comes to the series. We're going to go home, get some rest and come out ready to play. What's done is done."

With the Yankees placing their trust in 37-year-old CC Sabathia to literally cradle the season in his left hand, Headley believes the team has what it takes to knock out the defending AL champions.

Yanks turn to CC in winner-take-all Game 5

"Would you pick anybody else?" Headley said. "There's not going to be a moment that's too big for him."

Gardner said that even as the Yanks trudged out of Progressive Field after Game 2, feeling as though the Indians had stolen one, there were reasons for confidence. Two of the biggest were Masahiro Tanaka (who threw seven shutout innings in Game 3) and Severino, he said.

"You've still got a chance," Gardner said. "It'd be one thing if it was a three-game series and that was it, and it was all over. You're down, 0-2. I think somebody told me that when you're down 0-2, you've got a 9 percent chance to win the series. You've still got a chance. It's a whole lot better than 0 percent."

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.