Despite a promising outing from Carlos Carrasco, Cleveland could not figure out New York’s Masahiro Tanaka on Sunday and the Yankees bullpen held on to complete a 3-2 win to take the series from the Indians.
Carrasco was much better than his previous effort, but despite the quality start, his offense could not muster much for support against the veteran Yankee righty, who limited the Indians to a run on six hits in six-plus innings on the afternoon. Cleveland missed some opportunities late, proving to be the difference in the well-pitched contest.
New York scratched out solo runs in the first, fourth, and fifth innings to build a 3-0 lead just after the halfway point. Brett Gardner tripled to lead off the bottom of the first as a shallow Tyler Naquin saw the ball sail well over his head and off the wall in center field. Gardner scored easily two pitches later on a sacrifice fly by Jacoby Ellsbury off of Carrasco for the first run.
Carrasco shut down the Yankees for two innings, giving up a leadoff single in the second to Rob Refsnyder before striking out the next three batters swinging. Ellsbury led off the third with a single to center, but was erased on a double play ball by Mark Teixeira.
With one down in the fourth, Didi Gregorius homered to right to make it 2-0. The next inning, Ellsbury walked with two outs and scored on a double to left by Teixeira to push the lead to three.
The Indians got runners on base in six of the seven innings that Tanaka (8-4, 3.32 ERA) appeared in, but it took until the seventh before the visiting club would find home plate. Rajai Davis doubled hard to left on the first pitch of the inning and manager Joe Girardi immediately went to the bullpen for Adam Warren. Naquin moved Davis to third on a fly out to left and Roberto Perez lined a single to right to get the Indians on the board. Santana would reach on a fielder’s choice and Jason Kipnis walked, but Francisco Lindor grounded to Teixeira at first in a bang-bang play at the bag with both players diving head first to reach the base.
New Yankees reliever Tyler Clippard came on in the eighth and would allow the second run of the game. Jose Ramirez walked with one out, picked off second as Lonnie Chisenhall cut and missed badly on a pitch up and out of the zone, and advanced to third on the throwing error by Yankees catcher Austin Romine. Davis walked on five pitches against Dellin Betances and stole second as the new Yankees closer uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Ramirez to score from third. With the tying run at second, Naquin struck out swinging.
The ninth started promising with a single off of the left field wall by Chris Gimenez, but a double play that withstood replay review and a strikeout by Kipnis spelled another loss for Cleveland.
The Tribe fell to 62-47 in defeat, losing a second consecutive series and dropping both halves of the season series with the Yankees. New York inched back above the .500 mark at 56-55 on the year.
Carrasco (7-6, 3.17) went seven innings and struck out nine on the afternoon. He retired the final seven batters he faced and gave the Indians a quality start, a much needed change of pace from what the team’s starting rotation has provided over the course of the last week.
Napoli and Ramirez each extended their hitting streaks to nine and 12 games, respectively. Napoli used his single in the fourth inning, while Ramirez had a pair of hits, including his own single in the fourth and another in the sixth.
Perez went 2-for-3, which might not mean much for most players, but it was huge for the Indians backstop. He entered the game hitting .050 (2-for-40) on the season with eleven walks and was marred in an 0-for-16 slump.
Cody Allen struck out the side in the bottom of the eighth inning, needing just 12 pitches to set down Ellsbury, Teixeira, and Brian McCann in order. The first two pitches of each at bat were strikes, and each batter cut and missed at the first pitch they saw.
After Corey Kluber’s impressive start on Saturday, the Indians did not need to make a roster move for additional bullpen arms. They had recalled and optioned arms in each of the previous four days.
Napoli was ejected in the top of the eighth inning after several “close” pitches did not go his way. The at bat ended in a strikeout and he left home plate umpire Lance Barrett with a notable verbal tongue lashing. It was the third strikeout of the game in four at bats for the Indians cleanup hitter.
Chisenhall made four trips to the plate and saw 26 pitches, but the end result of all four at bats was the same – K. He earned the ugly Golden Sombrero with his hitless afternoon that included a costly strikeout in the eighth on a pitch up and out of the zone from reliever and former Indians draft pick Warren. All four whiffs were swinging.
Santana grounded into a key double play in the ninth inning after Gimenez led off the inning with a long single off of the wall in left field in his first at bat of the game. It came just two innings after Santana narrowly avoided a double play on an errant throw from shortstop Gregorius to moving target Warren at first base. Santana was 0-for-5 on the day and added in two strikeouts.
The Indians were just 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position. The one hit came from one of the more unlikely positions on the club, catcher Perez, who drove in a run with a single in the seventh.
Cleveland left nine runners on base.
New York had just five hits on the afternoon and made three errors defensively, but the Indians could not take advantage as the offense did not really get going until late in the game and may have simply run out of time.
The tough loss cost the Indians an opportunity to gain a game on the Detroit Tigers, who lost late to the New York Mets, 3-1, on Sunday. The Tigers took two of three in their interleague series to pick up a game on the Indians this weekend.
AROD’S FINAL DAYS
Yankees management held a press conference several hours prior to first pitch to announce that Alex Rodriguez will play his final game in pinstripes on August 12 against the Tampa Bay Rays and would then be released from his contract.
While the recently turned 41-year-old and formerly feared slugger could sign elsewhere, it is not expected to happen. He is expected to remain with the organization as an instructor and special advisor through December 31, 2017. The Yankees will be on the hook for roughly $27 million by granting his unconditional release.
Rodriguez is hitting .204 on the season with a .252 on-base percentage with nine home runs and 29 RBI. He has been limited to appearances versus left-handers for the bulk of the season. He brings a .295 lifetime batting average and 696 career homers into what appears to be his final week as a player in Major League Baseball.
TO THE CAPITAL
Monday will be an off day for both the Indians and the Yankees. New York will head to Boston for a three-game set at Fenway Park. The Indians will journey to Washington, D.C., for the first time since June 2007 to take on the Nationals for the second half of their season series. It will be their first games ever at Nationals Park.
Trevor Bauer (7-5, 4.08) will get the start for Cleveland on Tuesday, while Washington will counter with All-Star Max Scherzer (12-6, 2.87). Josh Tomlin is expected to get the start on Wednesday for Mike Clevinger, while left-hander Gio Gonzalez will go in the afternoon short-series finale.
Indians baseball returns from Nationals Park at 7:05 PM ET Tuesday.
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