Old Friends Help Sweep Tribe From Bronx; Yankees 6, Indians 4
Craig Gifford | On 05, Jun 2013
Spotting any Major League Baseball team a 6-0 lead is never a good idea. When it is the New York Yankees and their ace, C.C. Sabathia, it is even more ill-conceived.
That is exactly what Cleveland did on Wednesday afternoon, falling behind 6-0 through two innings at Yankee Stadium. Though they gave it a good effort, the Indians could not dig out of that early hole. The Tribe fell 6-4 and was swept in the three-game series. The Indians have now dropped four in a row and is now 30-29, two and one-half games behind the Tigers, who play this evening, for the AL Central lead.
Early on it seemed like Cleveland might simply limp weakly out of the Bronx as pair of former Indians came back to haunt their old club. Former Tribe designated hitter Travis Hafner hit a two-run home run, his 10th of the year and second of the series, for the game’s first two. Meanwhile, former Cleveland No. 1 starter Sabathia did not allow a hit until two batters were out in the fifth and did enough to pick up a complete game.
After New York picked up a four-spot in the second frame against Cleveland starter Corey Kluber, it seemed certain the Tribe’s second-year hurler would be headed for an early shower and the bullpen would be stretched to pitch a good number of innings. In the bottom of the second, it was Brett Gardner dealing the big blow with a three-run bomb.
However, over the next four stanzas, Kluber righted the ship. He rebounded to make it through six innings, striking out eight and walking one. A potentially disastrous day on the hill was reduced to a disappointing one. Tribe manager Terry Francona said he was happy with the way his young starter responded to the rough start.
“His stuff was tremendous the whole game,” Francona said of Kluber. “He had a couple of miss fires (like the fast ball to Hafner. His stuff was moving all over the place. He competed, never lost his poise. Because of that, it was a big hole to dig out of, be he gave us a chance.”
Kluber’s efforts did allow the Tribe to make things interesting over the game’s latter stages. Cleveland finally broke through against its former southpaw with a pair of scores in the sixth. Jason Kipnis got the Indians on the board with an RBI single. Nick Swisher followed with a fielder’s choice grounder. It drove home Michael Bourn who had singled earlier in frame and cut the New York lead to 6-2.
The Tribe got to within two an inning later. As the Indians have done a lot this year they got their rally going with two out. Michael Brantley delivered a single and scored one batter later on Yan Gomes’ sixth home run of the year. Gomes, the surprise of the season’s first two months, now has 17 RBI.
Cleveland’s bullpen, much maligned and beaten up over the past couple weeks, did the job of keeping the Yankees from pulling any further ahead. Matt Langwell, Rich Hill, Joe Smith and Vinnie Pestano combined to throw two scoreless innings. Smith worked out of bases-loaded jam in the seventh.
Still, Cleveland could do no more damage against Sabathia following the Gomes blast. The Yankee ace blew through the rest of the game, retiring seven of the last eight hitters. The lone blemish was a walk to Swisher. Sabathia ended up striking out nine in going the distance. Despite his club collecting seven hits and four runs off the Yankee lefty, Francona felt his team was kept off balance by a strong performance by an opposing hurler who simply did what he had to with a six-run cushion.
“It was a big hole to hit out of with C.C. pitching,” the Cleveland skipper said. “He pitches in the (strike) zone extremely well. He has enough stuff and command to throw strikes with all his pitches. He gets you back and forth and in and out. He’s very tough.”
What has been a tough recent schedule for the Indians does not get any easier over the weekend. The Tribe will continue its nine-game road trip with a trio of games in Detroit. It will be a big series as Cleveland could be in back of the Tigers from anywhere between 1½ to 3½ games depending on what Detroit does against Tampa tonight and tomorrow. The Indians will hope its first day off in nearly three weeks on Thursday will have the team ready when the weekend set kicks off Friday with Cleveland sending Ubaldo Jimenez to the mound to face Detroit ace Justin Verlander in a 7:08 start time.
Photo: Kathy Willens/AP Photo