Terry Francona gets what he planned for as Kluber takes the hill in Game 5

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The Yankees take on the Indians in Game 5 of the ALDS this evening and its a matchup for which Terry Francona prepared. Going against conventional wisdom, he held his best starter — Corey Kluber — out of Game 1 so that he’d be available for a deciding Game 5, if necessary.

Not that Kluber’s Game 2 performance gives us any reason to assume the Indians have the advantage.

Kluber was rocked in Game 2, only lasting two and two-thirds innings, giving up seven hits and six earned runs. It if was not for a near miraculous Indians comeback — aided, of course, by a blown hit-by-pitch call that Joe Girardi failed to challenge — the Yankees would be preparing to take on the Astros in the ALCS right now. Still, as Francona said yesterday: “We wanted Kluber if we got to this game, and we got to this game.”

The Yankees enter the game having won two in a row, both at home, against a Cleveland team many consider the best in baseball. But momentum, the old saying goes, is only as good as the next day’s starting pitcher. That starting pitcher is CC Sabathia, and not mid-season acquisition Sonny Gray, who pitched in Game 1 and has one more day’s rest than the big man does. Gray has been something less than reliable of late, however, lasting only three and a third innings in Game 1 of this series, allowing three runs and walking four. Sabathia seemed to have everything under control in Game 2 but was pulled after just 77 pitches, making way for the bullpen to allow the Indians’ big comeback. Joe Girardi probably should’ve had more confidence in Sabathia on that day, but he certainly seems to have more confidence in him now. Can’t say I’d disagree with him.

The only unknown for this game is whether or not Edwin Encarnacion, who sprained his ankle in Game 2 of the series, will be in action. Yesterday Francona said he believed he would be, but it’ll be a close-to-game time decision. UPDATE: The decision has been made. Encarnacion will play and bat cleanup for Cleveland.

This game is likely to be decided by Corey Kluber and CC Sabathia. If the usual Kluber shows up, the Yankees are going to have a hard time. If they get to him in any way close to the way they got to him in Game 2, Francona will have to go to his much-used bullpen early, giving the Yankees a big advantage. An advantage that, perhaps this time, they’ll be able to capitalize upon.

Gallegos agrees to $11M, 2-year contract with Cardinals

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ST. LOUIS – Reliever Giovanny Gallegos and the St. Louis Cardinals agreed Monday to an $11 million, two-year contract, a deal that includes a club option for 2025 and escalators that could make it worth $20.5 million over three seasons.

The 31-year-old right-hander is 3-5 with a 2.91 ERA and 14 saves in 20 chances this season. He has 72 strikeouts and 15 walks in 58 2/3 innings.

“I feel so happy,” Gallegos said Monday before the Cardinals played the Pirates in Pittsburgh. “I don’t have the word for exactly how I’m feeling.”

He was obtained from the Yankees in July 2018 along with left-hander Chasen Shreve in the trade that sent first baseman Luke Voit to New York. Gallegos is 14-15 with a 3.02 ERA and 34 saves in six major league seasons.

Gallegos gets a $500,000 signing bonus and salaries of $4.5 million next year and $5.5 million in 2024. St. Louis has a $6.5 million team option for 2025 with a $500,000 buyout.

His 2025 option price can increase by up to $3.5 million for games finished in 2024: $500,000 each for 20-25 and 26-30 and 31-35, and $1 million apiece for 36-40 and 41 or more.

He would get $250,000 for winning the Rivera/Hoffman reliever of the year award, $50,000 for All-Star selection and World Series MVP and $25,000 for League Championship Series MVP.

Gallegos has a $2.41 million salary this year.

He was eligible for salary arbitration and is potentially eligible for free agency after the 2024 season.