Yankees Use Four Solo Homers to Claim Victory; Yankees 6, Indians 5
Bob Toth | On 17, Aug 2019
In a game marred by ejections of three members of the Yankees, New York used four long balls off of Cleveland’s Zach Plesac and the Indians bullpen to claim a 6-5 lead on Saturday afternoon.
In a trend of late, the disgruntled Yankees dugout got chippy once again in the sixth inning when minor league call-up umpire Ben May called outfielder Cameron Maybin out on strikes. Maybin, who played several months with Cleveland’s Triple-A Columbus affiliate this season, spoke briefly with May after a pitch that appeared to be off the plate before walking back to the dugout. Yankees manager Aaron Boone burst from the same place and got into a heated discussion with May, but ultimately returned to the dugout for a moment before coming back out. Crew chief Tom Hallion attempted to intervene, but more Yankees players were barking from the dugout towards first base umpire Phil Cuzzi. Boone was tossed, as was anger monster Brett Gardner, who slammed his bat against the roof of the dugout in yet another childish display from the veteran outfielder. He was eventually held back by several Yankees coaches after climbing over the railing to argue with Cuzzi.
Sunday’s starter CC Sabathia was also ejected before things returned to some sense of normalcy.
In actual game action, the Yankees fell behind as the Indians put up a two-spot in the first to take an early lead against left-hander James Paxton. The Tribe used the first ten pitches and three batters to score the two runs as Francisco Lindor drew a six-pitch walk to open the day before Oscar Mercado doubled deep to right-center to put two in scoring position for Carlos Santana. He came through with a 1-1 single to center to score both base runners to make it a 2-0 game. Yasiel Puig joined Santana with a walk, but Jose Ramirez popped to short before both Franmil Reyes and Jason Kipnis struck out swinging.
Rookie right-hander Plesac started the day nicely, retiring each of the first five hitters that he faced before walking Maybin in the bottom of the second. Mike Tauchman singled to shallow left and an error by Mercado in center allowed the speedy vet Maybin to motor all the way in from first, but Tauchman was thrown out at second to end the inning.
The Yankees tied the game in the third. Austin Romine kicked things off with a single to right. Thairo Estrada grounded into a fielder’s choice with Romine forced at second. Gardner struck out looking for the second out. With DJ LeMahieu at the plate in a 1-2 count, Estrada stole second to move into scoring position. LeMahieu fouled off a pitch and drew a ball to force the count full before singling to left. A throwing error by Mercado allowed Estrada to score and LeMahieu to move up to second. Gio Urshela struck out looking to leave the score tied at two.
Paxton retired the side in order in the top of the fourth before the Yankees broke the game open. In a long at bat, Didi Gregorius ended it with a drive to right for his eleventh homer of the season, putting the Yankees up 3-2. Two pitches later, Gleyber Torres did it again, driving his 28th homer of the year over the right field fence to make it 4-2. Plesac struck out the next two before getting Romine to pop to third.
The Indians got through against Paxton for the first time since the first in the top of the fifth inning with a big two-out rally. Lindor doubled to left and Mercado walked to put two on for Santana. Santana dropped in a 1-2 single to left to score Mercado and Puig followed Santana with his own single to left to score Mercado to tie the game at 4-4. Ramirez popped up to end the inning, stranding a pair.
Plesac returned to the mound in the bottom of the fifth but was victimized again by the long ball on the final pitch of his outing. After retiring Estrada on a grounder to third and Gardner on a swinging third strike, LeMahieu caught a 1-2 changeup low in the zone and parked it to right, putting the Yankees back up, 5-4. Nick Wittgren came on for manager Terry Francona and got Urshela to pop to first.
Adam Ottavino retired the side in order in the sixth before the Yankees added what proved to be a key insurance run on another deep fly. Torres drove a 2-1 pitch from Wittgren to left for his second homer of the day, moving the Yankees lead to 6-4.
The story of the game was the late inning missed opportunities by the Indians. The first came in the seventh against reliever Tommy Kahnle, on for the second straight night. He walked Greg Allen to start the inning before getting Lindor to ground into a double play. Mercado doubled deep to right-center to put a runner in scoring position for the consistent Santana, but he struck out on three straight changeups to leave a big run on second.
After Phil Maton stranded a runner at second in the bottom of the seventh, the Indians struck through for a run in the eighth against Zack Britton but could not add on more. Puig greeted Britton with a double to right and moved to third on a single by Ramirez. A wild pitch by Britton allowed both runners to move up, with Puig touching the plate to make it 6-5. Reyes grounded to short, moving Ramirez up to third base with only one out. Kipnis drew a five-pitch walk to put runners on the corners, but Kevin Plawecki grounded a horribly placed ball up the middle, where LeMahieu fielded the ball at the second base bag, tagged it, and fired easily to first to catch the Cleveland catcher on the back end of the double play, negating Ramirez’s touch of the plate with the tying run.
Maton retired the side in order in the bottom of the eighth to give the Indians one last chance in the ninth against Chapman. Unlike the night before in his 34th save of the year, Chapman did not put the tying run on base. Instead, he struck out Allen looking, got Lindor to fly to medium-deep center, and retired Mercado on a foul out to first.
Back-to-back losses by the Indians (73-51) have evened up the season series with the Yankees (83-42) at 3-3 with one more to play. Cleveland now trails Minnesota by two games in the American League Central, with the Twins playing at 8:05 PM ET in Texas against the Rangers.
Plesac fell to 6-4 in a short start aided by three homers allowed. He needed 96 pitches to get through four and two-thirds and left after the homer by LeMahieu in the fifth with five runs (four earned) allowed on six hits with a walk and five strikeouts.
Paxton did not pitch particularly well, but he took home the win with five innings of work on the mound. He allowed four runs on six hits with three walks and four strikeouts to move to 9-6 on the year. The bullpen handled things from there, working four innings of three-hit baseball, allowing one run while striking out three.
Santana went 3-for-4 for the Tribe with three runs batted in to push his season batting average up to .293. Puig and Mercado each had a pair of hits, with the latter giving the Tribe two doubles on the day. The Indians went 4-for-11 with runners in scoring position while stranding six, but it was missed chances in the seventh and eighth that loomed large in their second straight one-run loss.
Torres went deep twice for the Yankees while delivering the winning shot in the sixth against Wittgren. LeMahieu had a pair of hits to push his average to .338. He hit his 20th homer in the fifth and now has 83 RBI on the season.
The season series between the two clubs will end on Sunday in another 1:05 PM ET first pitch. Former Indian Sabathia (5-6, 4.78 ERA) will make his final start against his former club for the Yankees, while the Indians will turn to right-hander Mike Clevinger (7-2, 3.34).
Photo: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images