Tribe Comes Up Short in Loss to Yankees in Extras; Yankees 7, Indians 6
Bob Toth | On 09, Jul 2016
After losing an early lead and another in the middle innings, the Indians fought back to tie the game in the seventh, but lost in extra innings as Brian McCann’s RBI-double off of Tommy Hunter in the top of the eleventh would prove to be the difference as Cleveland fell to the New York Yankees on Saturday by a 7-6 final.
It was a rough start for Danny Salazar in his final start of the first half and his first since being named to the American League All-Star team on Tuesday. He pitched with traffic throughout his five and two-thirds innings on the mound and got burned by the big inning twice, despite being given a pair of early leads by his offense.
After Salazar stranded a pair in the first on a strikeout of Didi Gregorius, the Indians stepped in against their former ace, CC Sabathia, pitching nearly eight years to the date that he was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers in 2008. Sabathia hit Rajai Davis with the third pitch of the game after getting ahead of him 0-2. Jason Kipnis sacrificed Davis to second and he stole third before Francisco Lindor grounded to short. Mike Napoli drew a walk after falling behind two strikes and Carlos Santana singled in the infield to the hole between third and short to plate Davis with the game’s first run.
New York took the lead with their first big inning of the game in the third against Salazar. Brett Gardner doubled to left and moved to third on a groundout by Jacoby Ellsbury. Carlos Beltran tied the game at one with a single to right. After McCann struck out swinging for the second out, Gregorius made up for stranding a pair in the first with a big blast to right to give the Yankees a 3-1 lead.
The Indians put five straight runners on base in the bottom of the frame with one out to reclaim the lead. Sabathia walked Kipnis before a single by Lindor moved the Tribe’s second baseman to third base. Napoli singled to left to score a run and Santana doubled to deep right to drive in Lindor to tie the game at three. Jose Ramirez jumped on his first pitch and blooped a single into right to drive in Napoli with the go-ahead run, with a hard stop sign given to Santana at third. Juan Uribe grounded into a fielder’s choice, with Santana retired at home, before Abraham Almonte grounded out to end the inning.
Salazar worked through the minimum in the fourth, his only easy inning of the game. He walked Gardner and advanced him to second on a bad pickoff throw in the fifth, but Gardner would be stranded there.
Cleveland added another run of insurance in the fifth with a big two-out hit. Lindor doubled to lead off the inning and moved to third on a groundout to second by Napoli. Santana struck out swinging for the second out before Ramirez reached on an infield single to Gregorius, scoring Lindor with the fifth Tribe run while giving Salazar a two-run cushion.
It would not be enough. After two quick outs in the sixth, Salazar gave up back-to-back singles to Chase Headley and Rob Refsnyder. Alex Rodriguez pinch-hit for Aaron Hicks and drew a walk to load the bases for Gardner. Dan Otero took over on the mound and despite his effectiveness in high pressure situations this season, he gave up a bases clearing triple to left to give the Yankees a 6-5 lead.
The Indians touched up the hard-to-reach Dellin Betances in the seventh in his second inning of work to tie the game. Kipnis doubled to lead off the inning and moved to third on a groundout by Lindor. Napoli walked before Santana again struck out swinging for a big second out. Ramirez, who has thrived all season with runners in scoring position, delivered a key knock with a single to right to drive home Kipnis to tie the game. With runners on the corners, Uribe grounded into a force to kill the rally, capped by an incredible diving stop by Gregorius, who flipped to second for the inning ending out.
Andrew Miller pitched the eighth and worked around a leadoff double from Almonte, setting the side down in order after. He remained on the mound for the ninth and got into trouble, but was saved by a fluky call from the umpires on the field. Lindor singled on the tenth pitch of his at bat and Napoli worked a walk after falling behind two strikes again. Santana grounded towards short. Running on the play and looking towards the ball, Lindor slammed into third baseman Headley on his way to third. The ball was not hit hard and would have made for a tough play at first, but Lindor was ruled out on runner’s interference for not giving way to Headley, who was not the fielder who was going to be able to make the easiest or closest play on the ball in play. Ramirez struck out looking on three pitches and Aroldis Chapman relieved Miller, striking out Uribe swinging to end the threat to send the game to extra innings.
“I can see why it had been called, but I really disagree with it,” said Indians manager Terry Francona after the game. “I told him it wasn’t Headley’s ball, it was Gregorius’. Frankie was watching Gregorius and he hit the third baseman hard.”
Cody Allen, in his second inning of relief, skirted around a one-out double from Headley, stranding him at second base. Chapman struck out a pair in the tenth to force the game into the eleventh, when the Yankees struck.
Hunter took over for Allen and retired the first two before Beltran singled to right. Ronald Torreyes pinch-ran for him and scored on a double to right by McCann that bounced over Almonte’s head and off of the wall to give the Yankees a 7-6 lead. After an intentional walk of Gregorius, Starlin Castro struck out looking to end the inning.
The Indians ran themselves out of the game in the bottom half, as Kipnis walked to start the inning before a fly out to right by Lindor. After several foul balls by Napoli, Kipnis was picked off of first by Chapman and the Indians slugging first baseman cut and missed on the next pitch to end the game.
The Indians (52-35) fell to 4-5 in July, hot off of their 22-6 June. They have been outscored 57-48 so far this month and fell to 13-13 in one-run games and 4-4 in extra inning games this season. The Yankees (43-44) matched the Indians’ record in July at 4-5 and have been outscored 45-36 so far this month. They are 14-8 in one-run games this season and won their first extra inning game this season in three tries.
CAREER BEST FOR CHAPMAN
Chapman (3-0, 2.49 ERA) earned the win with his career-long two and one-third innings of relief. He struck out four Indians batters and worked with little threat from the Cleveland lineup in the final innings.
“We had to use the ‘pen hard,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “We’ve got time off coming so I was willing to do it.”
Sabathia’s return to Cleveland was shaky, as the former Indians All-Star and ace is a shell of the pitcher he was when taking the Jacobs Field mound during the early portion of his lengthy MLB career.
He allowed five runs on seven hits over five and two-thirds innings, walking two and striking out two.
SALAZAR STRUGGLES IN LAST START
Salazar took the no-decision and left on top before Otero allowed the big bases clearing triple that added three more runs to the Indians starter’s stat line. He worked five and two-thirds innings on the afternoon, giving up six runs on eight hits with two walks and five strikeouts. The walk total was again a step in the right direction, but as Salazar’s walks per game have declined, his hits per game have taken a steady rise. While he did not issue the free pass in bulk, his pitch count was high (112) compared to the number of batters that he retired as he worked with occupants on the bases in five of the six innings he worked in.
Salazar heads to San Diego on Tuesday with a 10-3 record on the season and a 2.75 ERA, still one of the top marks in the league. He has taken a pair of no-decisions in his last two starts after being the pitcher of record in eight straight beginning in the middle of May (7-1 record in that span).
SANTANA’S STREAK CONTINUES
Santana extended his hitting streak to ten straight games with his first inning RBI-single, getting that out of the way early on in Saturday’s contest. He has hit in all nine games of July so far. Six times in his streak he has scored a run in a game and six times he has driven in at least one teammate.
Hitting .237 when his hitting streak started, his 2-for-5 day at the plate with a double and two runs batted in pushed his batting average to .251 on the year.
LINDOR LOVES MULTI-HIT GAMES
Lindor was 3-for-6 with two singles, a double, and two runs scored in the extra inning contest on Saturday, giving him his 16th three-hit game of the season and 30th game with at least two hits in 2016.
His batting average climbed three points to .303 for the season.
Eight of the Yankees’ nine starters contributed at least one hit in the ball game. Only Hicks and his replacements were held hitless from the ninth spot in the lineup. Beltran and McCann proved to be too much for the Indians pitching staff, as the duo was 6-for-12 and contributed the two hits that changed the game in the eleventh.
AN A-ROD SIGHTING
After failing to step to the plate in the first two games of the series, Rodriguez finally contributed to the Yankees lineup on Saturday afternoon, drawing a pinch-hit walk against Salazar before being lifted for a pinch-runner (Austin Romine).
Rodriguez has been relegated to starts against left-handed pitching, something the Indians have a significant lack of at the present moment.
SPECIAL FIRST PITCH
A couple of former significant contributors to the Indians success of the mid-1990’s took to the field again on Saturday afternoon, as Dennis Martinez threw the ceremonial first pitch of the game to Yankees bench coach and former Indians catcher and playoff hero from the 1995 ALDS, Tony Pena.
THIRD SELLOUT THIS WEEK
Fans continue to show up in droves to take in the Indians at Progressive Field this week. Big crowds filled the park with the Detroit Tigers in town, including a sold out crowd on the Fourth of July. Both Friday and Saturday games against the Yankees packed the park near capacity levels, giving the club three sellouts this week and four for the season.
Sunday’s crowd is expected to be a healthy one.
INDIANS ADD OLSON
On Saturday, the Indians announced that they had claimed left-handed reliever Tyler Olson off of waivers from the Kansas City Royals and had optioned him to Triple-A Columbus.
Olson, a seventh round pick by Seattle in the 2013 draft, debuted with the Mariners in 2015 and appeared in eleven games, posting a 1-1 record with a 5.40 ERA and 2.10 WHIP. He was traded in the offseason to the Los Angeles Dodgers, who traded him with Torreyes to the Yankees a month later for a minor leaguer and a player to be named later or cash. He was claimed off of waivers by Kansas City on June 14 and was designated for assignment by the Royals on July 5.
ONE MORE BEFORE THE BREAK
The Indians will look for the split in the four-game series with the Yankees on Sunday afternoon in the finale of the first half before the All-Star break.
Carlos Carrasco (5-2, 2.47) will be the final starter of the unofficial first half of the season for the Indians. He struck out 19 batters in two starts against New York last season, posting a 1-0 record, a 1.84 ERA, and a 0.68 WHIP. The Yankees will counter with right-hander Masahiro Tanaka (6-2, 3.12), who has had difficulties with the Indians over the last two seasons, taking losses in each of the last two years while posting a 5.68 career ERA.
First pitch of the series finale is scheduled for 1:10 PM ET from Progressive Field.
Photo: AP Photo/Ron Schwane