Josh Tomlin, usually a stopper for the Indians’ rotation, could not bring an end to the bad string of starting efforts from the pitching staff as he gave up seven runs and could not clear the fifth as the New York Yankees defeated Cleveland by a 13-7 final on Friday night.
The win for the Bronx Bombers (55-54) pushed the club back over the .500 mark and improved their mark this season against the Tribe to 4-1 after taking three of four from a series a month ago at Progressive Field. The Indians (61-46) have now dropped four of their last five games and fell to 30-26 on the road, still one of the best marks in the American League this season.
During the bad run of starting pitching over the last few weeks and especially over the last five games, it has been early leads that proved to be too much to overcome despite good contributions from the offense on many occasions. The problem for Tomlin and the Indians on Friday was that the Yankees refused to stop scoring, doing so in six of eight frames.
Ellsbury started the scoring again in the third as he doubled with one out. Teixeira reached on an infield single before McCann doubled home Ellsbury to make it 2-0. An intentional walk to Chase Headley loaded the bases and Starlin Castro cleared the deck with a grand slam to right, the first of his career and the would-be backbreaker on the night.
To give some credit where it was due, the Indians offense did their part to get back in the game. Against Yankees starter Michael Pineda in the fifth, Jose Ramirez extended his hitting streak with a single to right. After a flyout from Lonnie Chisenhall, Ramirez was erased on a fielder’s choice to first by Tyler Naquin. Abraham Almonte doubled against his former team into the left field corner, putting two in scoring position for catcher Chris Gimenez, who made the rare offensive contribution from a Tribe backstop with a big three-run blast to cut the Yankees lead right in half.
After two outs in the bottom half of the frame, a walk to Castro proved costly for Tomlin as he gave up a double to right-center to Gary Sanchez, ending the Indians starter’s night as the Yankees extended the lead back to four at 7-3.
New York poured on two more in the sixth against rookie Shawn Morimando in relief. Again with two outs, walks proved destructive as Teixeira and McCann walked before Headley drove in a run with a single. Castro walked to load the bases and Morimando forced in a run with a walk to Sanchez to make it 9-3.
The Indians knocked out Pineda in the seventh after Ramirez doubled to lead off the inning. He moved to third on a groundout by pinch-hitter Brandon Guyer and scored on a groundout by Naquin. But as was the case each time the Indians scored on the night, the pitching staff gave runs right back as Aaron Hicks homered to lead off the bottom of the seventh, Brett Gardner tripled to the gap in right-center, and Ellsbury singled off of Kyle Crockett, who came on after the triple off of Morimando.
Johnny Barbato, freshly called up from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, could not make it through the eighth. Jason Kipnis walked and was lifted for pinch-runner Michael Martinez. Francisco Lindor singled and a single by Mike Napoli scored Martinez. Ramirez delivered his third hit of the game to load the bases and bring on former Indians draft pick Adam Warren, who gave up an RBI-single to right to Guyer. After Naquin struck out for the first out, Almonte lifted a sacrifice fly to left, but with two still on base, Gimenez struck out swinging to end the frame.
Gardner plated two more with two outs in the bottom of the eighth off of Crockett after a single and two walks loaded the bases. His shot to left center drove home Castro and Rob Refsnyder to make it 13-7.
Cleveland’s lead in the AL Central fell to two games with Detroit’s win earlier in the night over the New York Mets, 4-3.
“It’s been one bad turn through, that’s for sure,” said Indians manager Terry Francona. “They’re all healthy. They’ve all had…it’s been back to back. Hopefully Kluber hasn’t caught what they had. Like I said, they’re all healthy. They’ll be okay.”
TOMLIN TAMED BY YANKS
Tomlin (11-4, 3.81 ERA) was once again hurt by a long ball, but it was the rare four-run shot that ripped the game wide open. While the Indians would eventually scratch and claw their way to seven runs, the big lead for New York gradually grew as Cleveland’s pitching staff could not keep New York batters off of the bases. Indians pitching gave up 16 hits, including seven extra base hits.
“It’s a tough pill to swallow,” said Tomlin. “It’s our job to keep [the offense] in the game as long as we can. The offense is clicking like it’s clicking and we’re not doing our job.
“We’re in first place and we have to keep playing good baseball.”
The Cleveland starter was responsible for nine of the hits and seven of the runs allowed while walking a pair on the night. He made it two outs into the fifth inning before getting the hook at the 93 pitch mark. He struck out two on the night in the loss.
PINEDA NOT GREAT, BUT GOOD ENOUGH
Pineda (6-10, 5.17) got the win despite allowing four runs to Cleveland on the night. He gave up six hits and walked one while striking out six batters over six innings.
EXTENDING THE HITTING STREAKS
Napoli extended his hitting streak to seven games with his RBI-single in the eighth inning. He also drew a pair of walks on the game, giving him nine walks against New York pitching in five games so far this season.
Ramirez wasted less time to extend his streak. He singled to lead off the fifth against Pineda in his second at bat. He added a double in the seventh and a single in the eighth, but had an uncharacteristic two strikeouts in the game. It was just the sixth time this season that Ramirez has struck out more than once in a ball game.
ELLSBURY GOES WILD
Ellsbury created havoc all game long for Indians pitching, as he went 4-for-5 on the game with three singles, a double, two runs scored, and one run driven in.
SANCHEZ GETS HIS FIRST START AND MORE
Making his first career start behind the plate, second-year catcher Sanchez was 1-for-4 with his second career double. The double drove in his first career run in the fifth inning, and he added a second RBI with his bases loaded walk in the next frame.
He also threw out a pair of runners attempting to steal.
TEIXEIRA ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT
Yankees first baseman Teixeira announced his retirement on Friday, effective at the end of the season. He celebrated by going 2-for-4 with a single, a double, a walk, and two runs scored.
SWAPPING UTILITY GUYS
The Indians formally announced the re-addition of utility man Martinez, who the team claimed off of waivers on Thursday from the Boston Red Sox.
Erik Gonzalez, who had hit .111 in extremely limited action for the Indians with a walk and two runs scored, was optioned back to Triple-A Columbus. Reliever Tyler Olson was designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for Martinez.
MORE HELP IN THE BULLPEN
The Indians recalled Morimando prior to the game as the club optioned Ryan Merritt back to Columbus after his outing in Thursday’s win.
Morimando needed 45 pitches to clear one inning of work and will likely be headed back to Columbus after the rocky four runs allowed on three hits and four walks on the night.
AND MORE MOVES
Juan Uribe, who was designated for assignment on Monday to make room for Guyer on the roster, was given his outright release on Friday.
STOP THE BLEEDING
Corey Kluber (10-8, 3.27) will be the next man up to stop the string of bad starts from the Indians rotation. He is 1-1 lifetime at Yankee Stadium and has allowed one run or less three times in four career starts against the Yankees. New York will send out former friend of the feather CC Sabathia (6-8, 4.15) to make his eleventh career start against Cleveland.
First pitch on Saturday is scheduled for 1:05 PM ET.
Photo: AP Photo/Seth Wenig