Yanks Complete Sweep, Walk Off on Torres’ Blast; Yankees 7, Indians 4
Bob Toth | On 06, May 2018
After seven innings of one-hit baseball combined between the Indians and Yankees, New York rallied for three in the eighth and four more in the ninth, riding a game-winning three-run walk-off home run by rookie Gleyber Torres to a 7-4 win over Cleveland on Sunday afternoon, completing a three-game sweep.
It was a wild and wacky finish to the Indians and Yankees series in New York on Sunday as both starting pitchers flirted with no-hit bids. The Indians would not get their first hit until the eighth inning, but tallied four runs in the frame to take the lead, only to see the scorching hot Yankees rally for three in the home half and four in the ninth to take home a shocking win and a series sweep in a rematch of last season’s American League Division Series.
Mike Clevinger was making his first career appearance in the Big Apple and his first Major League start against the New York Yankees. Domingo German, a reliever through his first 12 big league appearances, slotted in for the Yankees as a spot starter for the injured Jordan Montgomery. The pair tangled in an impressive pitching duel, but one that would not show up in the game’s final score.
Clevinger was dominant, allowing just a fifth inning hit in seven and one-third frames. He walked Aaron Judge in the first, but picked him off. He struck out the side in order in the third and added two more in the fourth around a base runner safe on an error at first. The Yankees got their first hit in the fifth with a leadoff single to center by Aaron Hicks, who moved to second on a walk by Neil Walker before a double play grounder and a strikeout got Clevinger out of the jam.
German struck out nine in six hitless innings. He retired the first eleven hitters in order before a two-out walk by Jose Ramirez in the fourth. He would later walk Edwin Encarnacion to lead off the fifth, but left after six facing just two over the minimum.
The Indians got their first hit of the game in the eighth and it turned into a big inning. With Dellin Betances on for his second inning of relief, Yonder Alonso ended the combined no-hit bid with a single to right through the shifted infield. Rajai Davis took over as a pinch-runner and moved into scoring position on a single to center by Yan Gomes. Davis picked off third, allowing him to score easily on the third straight Cleveland hit, a single to center by Tyler Naquin, to break the scoreless tie. Greg Allen popped up a bunt in front of home plate for the first out before Francisco Lindor doubled to right, scoring Gomes from second and moving Naquin to third with the lead now 2-0. A passed ball on catcher Gary Sanchez allowed Naquin to score the third run and a sacrifice fly to left by Jason Kipnis cleared Lindor from third, giving the Indians a commanding 4-0 lead.
Clevinger would return to the mound in the eighth, due in large part to the bullpen issues plaguing the Tribe since the loss of Andrew Miller (and more realistically since the lack of moves made in the offseason to replace Bryan Shaw and, to some degree, Joe Smith). The Cleveland right-hander walked a pair to start the inning around a pop out to short by Miguel Andujar before manager Terry Francona went to his closer, Cody Allen, in the four-run game. Allen got Torres to fly to center for the first out, but a single by Brett Gardner scored Walker from second to get the Yankees on the board. The dangerous Judge, the tying run, sent a two-out drive to right. Naquin made a diving effort but just missed the ball, which turned into a two-run double to make it a 4-3 Indians lead. Allen intentionally walked Didi Gregorius to face Sanchez, who flied to center to end the rally.
Allen started the ninth but was hit hard quickly. Back-to-back doubles from Hicks and Walker to start the inning knotted the game at four. Dan Otero came on to try to get the final three outs to send the game to extras, but could not do it. He got Andujar to ground to third for the first out and intentionally walked pinch-hitter Giancarlo Stanton. Torres got ahead in the count before Otero worked it full, but on the payoff pitch, Torres drove Otero’s offering high, deep, and gone to center for the three-run game-winner as the Yankees rallied for seven unanswered runs in the final two innings.
The Yankees (24-10) are now 14-5 at home and have reeled off an incredible 15-1 record over their last 16 games (against Toronto, Minnesota, the Los Angeles Angels, Houston, and now Cleveland). The Indians (17-17) dropped back to the .500 mark with a season-high three-game losing streak, but still sit atop the American League Central Division by two and a half-games with Detroit’s loss against Kansas City.
QUALITY STUFF FROM CLEVINGER
Clevinger did all that could be asked of a pitcher playing on the biggest stage in baseball for the first time.
“He was really good. I mean, those pitchers kinda matched each other pitch for pitch,” said Francona after the game. “After all that he did, to go out and walk two…the idea was to try to go to Cody with one out in the eighth to give him a fair chance to finish. He ended up walking both guys.
“He pounded the zone. He threw three pitches. He pitched like you’re supposed to. He got ahead with the fastball and finished with the breaking ball.”
Clevinger worked seven and one-third innings, striking out a career-high ten batters while throwing 116 pitches, also a career mark. He allowed just one hit, was charged with two runs that came around off of Allen, and walked four, including two in the rough eighth.
It was a Herculean effort from the young German, who made a more-than-memorable first starting impression for manager Aaron Boone and the Yankees. He held the Indians hitless in six innings of work, allowing just two walks while striking out nine of the 20 batters that he faced on the afternoon.
“I thought he was really good,” said Francona of the Yankees’ German. “He was three pitches and pitched like a veteran.”
According to the New York Yankees’ Public Relations Department, German and Clevinger became the first pair of starting pitchers to record at least nine strikeouts while giving up one hit or less each in the same game since at least 1908.
The Indians offense managed just four hits, all in the eighth inning. They went 2-for-3 with runners in scoring position in the ball game and left a pair, but the bullpen woes enabled the Yankees to come away victorious.
“As long as we chase out of the zone, especially down, they’re going to keep doing it,” said Francona. “We have to earn some pitches up in the zone.”
Lindor was the only Indians starter who did not strike out. Kipnis, Brantley, Encarnacion, and Gomes were cut down twice in the game. For the Yankees, Sanchez was 0-for-4 with a hat trick, striking out three times. Four of the Yankees’ six hits on the day were for extra bases (doubles by Judge, Hicks, and Walker; homer by Torres).
The Indians recalled outfielder Allen from Triple-A Columbus prior to the game and optioned reliever Ben Taylor, who had pitched in three of the last four days for the Tribe.
Allen got the start in center field in his new jersey number one for Bradley Zimmer, who is day-to-day with a left shoulder contusion following a collision with the outfield wall in Saturday’s loss. If Zimmer is healthy for the team’s next contest, Allen could be the player optioned back to Triple-A to make room for new reliever Oliver Drake, who was acquired on Saturday for cash considerations from the Milwaukee Brewers.
A DAY OFF
With their stretch of 18 games in 17 days completed, the Indians will take their first of two off days this week on Monday before taking on the Milwaukee Brewers in a brief two-game series from Miller Park.
The Yankees will also take Monday off, their first in 18 days, before continuing their nine-game homestand with three with Boston and three with Oakland.
Photo: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images