Gio Urshela
Tim Warner/Getty Images

The New York Yankees win a roller-coaster game against the Cleveland Indians and Gio Urshela played the role of hero.

Danny Small

The New York Yankees outlasted the Cleveland Indians in a marathon game that took over six hours to complete from original first-pitch time. Two rain delays and 19 walks slowed the game down to a crawl, but that’s not the storyline from Wednesday’s game. The biggest takeaway from the Yankee victory was Gio Urshela‘s utter dominance.

This was the “Gio Urshela” game.

Down 4-1 in the fourth inning, Urshela launched a grand slam to take the lead. Down 9-8 in the ninth, Urshela stabbed a would-be RBI single and turned it into a double play from heaven.

Urshela was the star on two of the three biggest plays of the game for New York. After that web gem double-play ball, Urshela poked a seeing-eye single up the middle to help start a ninth-inning rally. Gary Sanchez’s sacrifice fly to tie the game set the stage for DJ LeMahieu. The American League batting champion drove in who else but Gio Urshela for the game-winning run.

And the cherry on top of Urshela’s night — the Indians gave up on him years ago because they didn’t think he could hit well enough. That has to be an all-time satisfying revenge moment for Urshela, who is flirting with stardom in New York.

Urshela is no doubt the story of the game, but here are a few other takeaways from the Yankees’ thrilling series-clincher

Rough Night For Aaron Boone

This was a night to forget for Aaron Boone. Or better yet, it was a night to remember so it doesn’t happen again. Boone pulled Luke Voit for a pinch-runner too early and then had to pinch-hit Clint Frazier for Tyler Wade in a gigantic spot.

Frazier struck out to end the inning and it was a major missed opportunity for the Yanks. Ultimately, it didn’t matter because they won, but you want to have Voit in the lineup for those kinds of at-bats. Frazier has been great all year, but it’s tough to ask him to come in cold in that situation.

With that said, that lineup decision was nothing compared to Boone’s mismanagement of the pitching staff. He did well to stick with Masahiro Tanaka through some rocky waters in the first inning, but he left him in for two batters too long.

Later on, he lifted Zack Britton in favor of going righty-on-righty with Jonathan Loaisiga. Jordan Luplow ripped a two-RBI double to tie the game. And then again, he left Loaisiga in long enough for him to put runners on in the eighth.

Even though Urshela’s defense limited the damage and the offense came through to bail out Boone, he needs to be better.

“5G” Lineup

We have to give some credit to Boone. His lineups are hitting, literally. While some pundits and fans thought the Yankees should keep Gary Sanchez on the bench and roll with Kyle Higashioka, Boone stuck to his guns. Sanchez came up huge with a massive two-run home run and the game-tying sacrifice fly.

Sanchez hits ninth and he bookends the “5G” section of the lineup. Five through nine in the order goes Giancarlo Stanton, Gio Urshela, Gleyber Torres, Brett Gardner, and Gary Sanchez. All five guys combined for six runs and nine RBIs. LeMahieu’s game-winning RBI was the only run batted in by the top of the lineup.

Aside from when Gerrit Cole is pitching — Higashioka is his de facto personal catcher — this should be the lineup until something changes. Again, nothing against Frazier, but Gardner needs to stay out there when he’s reaching base safely three times in a game.

Onto The Rays

Let’s be clear about this — the Tampa Bay Rays are not the Indians. The Yankees probably can’t steal a game like this against Tampa Bay. Boone and the bullpen in particular need to be better against Kevin Cash and his “stable full of guys.”

On the bright side for the Yanks, Cole is lined up to pitch Game 1 on Monday. They’re going to feel good about their chances every time Cole steps on the mound, especially after his postseason debut for the Yankees. In Game 1 against Cleveland, he tossed seven innings of two-run ball with 13 strikeouts and no walks.

This is why he’s paid the big bucks. In two ALDS starts against the Rays last season, Cole threw 15.2 innings, allowing six hits and one run. Yankees fans are hoping he can replicate that success in 2020.

And of course, it’s impossible to write about a series between the Yankees and Rays without acknowledging the bad blood between these teams. They have a feud stretching all the way back to 2018 and tensions boiled over earlier this year.

Game 1 is set for Monday, Oct. 5 and there are no off days during the ALDS. That means we could have five consecutive days of Yankees-Rays. Buckle up.

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