The Tribe pitching staff squandered a gift three-run first inning as the New York Yankees tied the game early and used three more runs late to take and pad their lead on the way to a 6-3 win at Cleveland.
If Terry Francona‘s wish when blowing out the candles on his 62nd birthday cake on Thursday was for an Indians win against the Bronx Bombers or at least a good offensive showing, that wish failed to come true as the Cleveland lineup missed several chances to add on to their early run support of starter Aaron Civale.
The early tale of the game was poor defensive fundamentals as Cleveland took a first inning lead against New York right-hander Domingo German. Cesar Hernandez blooped a single in front of Brett Gardner with one out and scored on a double to right by Jose Ramirez on a ball misplayed by Clint Frazier. Eddie Rosario singled to first to knock home the game’s first run and another scored on a comebacker to the mound by Franmil Reyes. German knocked the ball down and lost it, then put it in his pocket after missing both the double play attempt and even the out at first of Reyes. Josh Naylor made the Yankees pay for the mistake, driving a single to right to score Rosario to give the Indians a 3-0 lead.
Cleveland starter Civale walked a pair in the first, but settled down for a 1-2-3 second. Things fell apart in the third, however, as Kyle Higashioka opened the inning with a leadoff double to right. He moved to third on a balk before Gardner struck out swinging, but DJ LeMahieu singled the Yankees backstop in to make it a 3-1 game. Aaron Judge was cut down swinging for the second out, but Mike Ford drew a five-pitch walk. Two pitches later, the game was tied up as Gleyber Torres dropped in a single to right-center and moved all the way to third on an error by Naylor, who kicked the ball to the warning track in center. Aaron Hicks popped out to leave the go-ahead run stranded at third.
The Tribe lineup wasted a one-out scoring opportunity in the third. Reyes tripled to center with his first career three-bagger, but Naylor struck out swinging and Jake Bauers lined back to the mound. In the fourth, Jordan Luplow worked a two-out walk and moved to third on a single to right by Hernandez, but Ramirez could not get the runner home as he grounded out to second.
Civale retired the side in order in the fourth and worked around a one-out walk by LeMahieu in the fifth, but lasted just two batters into the sixth before things got dicey. After a fly to right by Torres, Hicks singled to left. Francona turned to the veteran Bryan Shaw, who got Rougned Odor to fly to center for the second out before walking Frazier and Higashioka. With the bags loaded, Gardner grounded into a force at second.
German made it seven straight set down with perfect frames in the fifth and sixth before the Yankees took the lead against Nick Wittgren. LeMahieu struck out before a walk by Judge. Ford was set down swinging before a single by Torres and a walk by Hicks loaded the bases for the second inning in a row. Odor cashed in, driving home a pair with a single to center to give New York its first lead of the night at 5-3. James Karinchak took over and punched out Frazier on a 3-2 heater to send the game to the stretch.
Jonathan Loaisiga worked around a single by Hernandez in the seventh before the Yankees added an insurance run against Cal Quantrill. Higashioka drove a 2-0 sinker over the center field wall to make it 6-3.
Down to their final six outs, Cleveland did little against the tough New York bullpen. Chad Green pitched a perfect inning, striking out Reyes in a ten-pitch frame. Aroldis Chapman came on for the save in the ninth, striking out Roberto Perez before walking pinch-hitter Amed Rosario on four pitches. The next six pitches crossed the plate for strikes, as Luplow and Hernandez were each struck out on three pitches to send both teams home for the night.
Cleveland dropped to 8-9 on the season, while the New York club improved to 7-11.
Civale had an uncharacteristic effort on the mound. He walked four in his five and one-third innings of work, charged with three runs (two earned) on four hits while striking out six in a no-decision. Wittgren’s tough season continued as he allowed two runs on two hits with two walks and two strikeouts in two-thirds of an inning while taking his first loss.
German overcame his defense’s early issues to give the Yankees a quality start and to earn him his first win of the campaign. He lasted six innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on seven hits with a walk and six strikeouts along the way. The bullpen worked three shutout innings of one-hit baseball behind him, walking one and striking out five.
Hernandez had three singles for the Tribe at the plate and scored one of the team’s three runs on the evening. Luplow and Perez both earned hat tricks at the plate with three strikeouts. Cleveland was just 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position, a season-long issue for the lineup.
Torres had a three-hit game for the Yankees, while Odor had two with a pair of RBI. Higashioka also had two hits and two runs scored while hitting his third homer of the year.
A pair of left-handers will matchup in game two of the four-game set from Progressive Field on Friday night. Logan Allen will make his fourth start of the year for Cleveland, while Jordan Montgomery will go for New York.
First pitch from downtown Cleveland is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images