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Jay Bruce reminds Indians, Yankees you get what you pay for in ALDS Game 1

Sporting News logo Sporting News 2017-10-06 Bill Bender

(Video provided by Sports Illustrated)

CLEVELAND — Jay Bruce seems content to enjoy the ride without thinking too much.

How could you blame him considering everything seemingly has gone right since he arrived in Cleveland?

The Indians were 42-9 in the regular season after acquiring Bruce in a trade with the Mets on Aug. 9, and that included a 22-game win streak. Bruce opened the ALDS on Thursday by going 2-for-3 with three RBIs in a 4-0 victory against the Yankees at Progressive Field.

MORE: Three takeaways from the Indians' Game 1 win

Bruce sent Sonny Gray's 0-1 pitch into the right-field bleachers for a two-run homer in the fourth inning that helped the Indians seize control in Game 1.

"I couldn't have fallen into a better situation," Bruce said. "Obviously when you get traded and you're in trade rumors, it's usually a contender or a team that's contending in the moment. For whatever reason, I ended up here."

That became easy social media fodder given the competition. The Yankees could not complete a deal for Bruce, and the Indians did. Cleveland got what they paid for, and the Indians' social media team had no problem reminding the Yankees all about it.

Jay Bruce © Getty Images Jay Bruce

Bruce stayed away from that conversation when pressed in the postgame news conference about what it would have been like to land with the Yankees.

"It was never brought to my attention," Bruce said. "The only call I got was when I was traded."

MORE: Every MLB team's worst postseason memory, revisited

Bruce is the protection for Edwin Encarnacion, and that worked against the Yankees. After Gray walked Encarnacion to start the fourth inning, Bruce launched the game-changing home run. Teammates mobbed Bruce, who shuffled to the side and took a moment to take it all in. Just a moment.

"I honestly don't give myself a lot of time to reflect when I'm doing it," Bruce said. "I feel like I don't have time."

That also helped chase Gray, who New York acquired July 31 in a deal with Oakland. Gray mitigated damage early, but a pair of walks after the Bruce homer forced Joe Girardi to turn to the bullpen.

"(Bruce) is the guy that hurt him tonight," Girardi said. "Besides that, he pitched pretty well."

Bruce also scored after a second-inning double, and the two-run homer gave Cleveland command of the series heading into Game 2 on Friday. He added an RBI on a sacrifice fly that scored Jose Ramirez in the fifth inning.

"He took such a good swing the first at-bat when he drove the ball to left field," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "More often than not, when a guy hits the ball the other way with authority, he's on balance, and he's doing some things right."

MORE: Yankees-Indians Game Center

Francona also said the game wasn't too big for Bruce because of his previous postseason experience. Bruce entered this round with a .235 average in 10 postseason games. Now, he might be the difference in a loaded Cleveland lineup. That's what the Indians paid for, and what the Yankees couldn't.

That was the difference in Game 1, even if Bruce tried to downplay it.

"That's kind of the beauty of it," Bruce said. "Tonight, it was me, tomorrow it could be any of the other 24 guys on the roster right now."


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