WASHINGTON (AFP) — Harrison Bader smacked a two-run home run and the New York Yankees kept their championship hopes alive by defeating the Cleveland Guardians, 4-2, in the Major League Baseball playoffs.
The Yankees pulled level at 2-2 in their best-of-five American League division series to set up Monday’s winner-take-all fifth game at New York.
Monday’s winner will advance to the best-of-seven AL Championship Series, which begins Wednesday at Houston.
The Philadelphia Phillies visit the San Diego Padres on Tuesday to open the National League Championship Series.
The league champions meet in the World Series starting 28 October.
Yankees right-handed starting pitcher Gerrit Cole struck out eight and allowed only two runs on six hits and a walk over seven innings for the victory.
“Just kept trying to make pitches,” Cole said.
“We turned some double plays early and played some good defense.”
Cole was excited to perform at his best in a must-win game for the Yankees.
“This is a dream,” he said.
“This series isn’t over and we have bigger goals but I’m having the time of my life and I want it to keep going.”
The Yankees have won record 27 World Series trophies, the most recent in 2009.
In their first season after changing their nickname from Indians over racism concerns, the Guardians are trying to end Cleveland’s World Series title drought, the club having last claimed the crown in 1948 — MLB’s longest active title drought.
New York opened the scoring in the first inning as Gleyber Torres singled, stole second base and scored on Anthony Rizzo’s single.
Bader’s homer in the second lifted the visiting Yankees ahead, 3-0.