CLEVELAND — There was excitement, of course, about Brian McCann’s RBI double and Ronald Torreyes’ dash around the bases to score what proved to be the winning run.
But the overwhelming topic in the Yankees’ clubhouse after their 7-6, 11-inning victory over the Indians could be summed up in one two-syllable name: Didi.
“Oh, he’s unbelievable,” CC Sabathia said of Didi Gregorius. “He’s our most exciting player. He does everything all around for us. Showed up again today.”
The shortstop impacted Saturday’s victory with his bat and his glove. He hit a two-run homer off Danny Salazar on an 0-and-2 pitch with two outs in the third inning that gave the Yankees a 3-1 lead, then provided an entry for the club’s first-half defensive play of the year in the seventh.
With the score tied at 6 and runners at the corners, Juan Uribe stung one up the middle. Off the bat, McCann felt the go-ahead run was, without question, about to score.
“From my view, I thought he had no chance to get there,” McCann said.
But Gregorius made a diving stop behind the bag, then back-handed the ball to Starlin Castro for an inning-ending forceout.
“He probably saved the game,” Joe Girardi said.
Alex Rodriguez took it even further, calling it “a game-saver.”
Added McCann: “He’s on another level . . . what he’s doing with the bat. Just both sides of the ball, he’s kind of going next-level, I feel like.”
Gregorius all but shrugged when asked about the play.
As a shortstop, you want to make every play,” he said. “You try to dive for anything.”
A-Rod took a quick liking to Gregorius when he came to the Yankees in 2015 as Derek Jeter’s replacement and mentored the shortstop that first April when the then-25-year-old got off to a horrendous start. Things started to change in May 2015, and Gregorius has taken off.
“He was pretty darn good the second half of last year and now he’s taken it to another level this year,” Rodriguez said. “It’s fun to watch.”
Gregorius went 1-for-5 Saturday, giving him a .298/.327/.468 slash line and a career-best 11 homers.
“I’m not a home run hitter. I’ll keep saying that every day,” Gregorius said with a smile. “I’m just trying to hit line drives. I’m not a power hitter. Just trying to put good swings [on the ball] and they’re turning into home runs.”