The Cleveland Indians flipped the script of the first three games of their series with the New York Yankees on Sunday afternoon, scoring seven unanswered runs after trailing to end their four-game losing streak and to avoid a four-game sweep behind a 7-3 win from Progressive Field.
Franmil Reyes continued his hot home hitting with a three-hit performance, including a clutch three-run home run in a four-run fourth for the Tribe to overcome a three-run deficit against New York starter Jameson Taillon. After blowing early leads in each of the first three games of the series, the Indians trailed on Sunday, only to come from behind to end a season-long losing streak at four straight.
The game was knotted at three after three innings in a contest between Jameson Taillon and Triston McKenzie in the series finale from downtown Cleveland, where the Indians looked to their young right-hander to put a stop to a series of dominance from the Yankees. Despite the scoreless contest, it took some work from McKenzie, who allowed New York to load the bases in the first with two outs after a one-out single from Giancarlo Stanton and back-to-back two-out walks by Rougned Odor and Gleyber Torres. McKenzie punched out his second batter of the inning to leave the bags full, getting former Tribe farmhand Gio Urshela on three pitches.
Taillon retired the first four in order before Reyes singled with one down in the second. He stole second after a strikeout by Josh Naylor, but was stranded two bags away as Jordan Luplow flied out to left. Taillon struck out the eight, nine, and one hitters in order in the third.
New York struck through against McKenzie in the fourth after he retired six of seven faced in the second and third frames. Torres opened the inning with a first-pitch single to center. Urshela took McKenzie deep to center to put the Yankees on the board, 2-0, and Mike Ford made it a 3-0 game by driving a 3-1 heater over the wall in right.
The Indians had posted a couple of big innings early in the series, but got their timeliest inning of the four-gamer in the fourth to take the lead back. Taillon gave up a leadoff single to Cesar Hernandez. Jose Ramirez moved the runner into scoring position with a single of his own to right to put a pair on for Eddie Rosario. He got the job done, driving in Hernandez on a single to right-center to cut the deficit to 3-1. Reyes, who singled and stole his first MLB base in the second inning before being stranded, fell behind Taillon 1-2, but he caught just enough of a 93 MPH fastball up in the zone to shoot the ball just past the outstretched arm of right fielder Aaron Judge into the seats in right for a three-run blast. His fifth homer of the year gave the Indians a 4-3 lead.
Sam Hentges took over for McKenzie in the fifth. In his second inning of work on the season, he allowed a leadoff single to Judge, but got the next three in order, stranding the tying run Judge at third after a groundout and a wild pitch moved a key run 90 feet from the plate.
Cleveland tacked on against the New York bullpen in the bottom of the fifth after Taillon was replaced on the mound by Nick Nelson. Austin Hedges drew a leadoff walk. Amed Rosario lined to short, but Hedges moved to second on a wild pitch and to third on a single to right by Hernandez. Ramirez lofted a changeup to left to score Hedges on the sacrifice fly to make it a 5-3 Cleveland lead.
New York threatened again in the sixth. Hentges got the first two batters on groundouts before Mike Tauchman doubled to right. Cal Quantrill came on to face pinch-hitter Clint Frazier, but Quantrill moved the runner to third on a wild pitch before walking Frazier. With the tying runs on base, Quantrill got Stanton to ground back to the mound to strand a pair.
The Indians added a pair of insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth to make the Yankees’ missed opportunity worse. Nelson’s 3-1 pitch to Reyes was blasted deep to center field for his second triple of the weekend (after having none in his MLB career). Naylor could not get the runner home on a grounder to first, but Luplow delivered with a double to left to make it a 6-3 game. Andres Gimenez struck out swinging for the second out, but Hedges kept the scoring going with an RBI-single to right to extend the lead to 7-3.
Quantrill escaped the seventh with a double play liner and James Karinchak struck out three around a two-out hit by pitch of Gary Sanchez in the eighth. Emmanuel Clase, pitching in a non-save situation in the ninth against the meat of the order, got three big outs, getting Frazier to ground to second before Stanton and Judge both lined to right to give Cleveland a much needed victory.
With that win, the Indians moved to 9-11 on the year, remaining in third place in the American League Central. New York dropped to 9-12 with its first defeat of the series.
McKenzie exited after four innings of work for Cleveland. He was charged with three runs in the fourth, giving up four hits and four walks on the day while striking out five. His pitch count was run up early and he left with 87 pitches made in retiring 12 batters. The Cleveland bullpen was impressive in relief, allowing just two hits and a walk over the final five innings.
Taillon was dealt the loss after giving up the four-run fourth inning to the Tribe bats. He gave up five hits, did not walk a batter, and struck out six. Nelson was charged with three key insurance runs earned in relief, while Luis Cessa pitched two perfect innings after him.
Reyes led the Tribe bats with a 3-for-4 day at the plate, falling just a double short of the cycle. He scored twice and drove in three on his fifth homer of the campaign. Hernandez reached twice via single, while Hedges went 1-for-2 with the team’s only walk of the contest.
The Indians will get back to action on Monday night as they host the Minnesota Twins in a three-game series from Progressive Field to close out their homestand. Zach Plesac (1-3, 6.75 ERA) will look to get himself back on track in a tough matchup against Twins right-hander Jose Berrios (2-2, 3.00 ERA). First pitch of the opener of the series is scheduled for 6:10 PM ET.
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