The Indians took an early lead and never surrendered it to rebound from close losses the last two nights and split a four-game series against the Yankees. While neither starting pitcher ventured deep into the game the Tribe got the better of Yankees pitching. Meanwhile, both bullpens surrendered four runs apiece.
Third baseman José Ramírez earned an off-day today, but production from the position didn’t falter. Mike Freeman earned the start at the hot corner and went 3-for-4, including a three-run home run in the second inning that put the Indians on top 4-0. His other two hits were both doubles, and he came around to score both times as well.
The other top performer from the Indians lineup today? Oscar Mercado. He went 3-for-4 with a walk, adding a two-run home run and two stolen bases in as many attempts this afternoon. Francisco Lindor also homered, while Yasiel Puig walked twice. Every Indians found a way to join in one the fun, as the only starter without a hit or a walk (Greg Allen) earned an RBI on a fielder’s choice in the first.
Things on the mound today for the Tribe wasn’t nearly as pretty as it was effective. Mike Clevinger pitched for five innings, needing 104 pitches to work his way through the day. Despite the high pitch count he only gave up three hits and two walks while striking out ten. I will be the last person to complain about five shutout innings. However, typically a ten strikeout day that ended after five innings would get slotted into the “effectively wild” category. I don’t feel comfortable saying that after only two walks.
Nick Goody pitched his way out of a small jam in the sixth to keep the Yankees scoreless, but they broke through against Hunter Wood in the seventh. Mike Ford singled, and then after a flyout Hunter Wood induced a second one from DJ LeMahieu. Unfortunately, it went straight down the line in right field and left the ballpark. It had a 6% hit probability, and Statcast listed it at 331 feet. I’m not convinced that it even went that far.
He struck out Aaron Judge, then handed the ball to Oliver Perez against lefty Didi Gregorious. A groundout ended the inning.
Mercado’s home run came in the top of the eighth, providing two insurance runs that ended up providing more comfort than one would have initially expected.
Brad Hand opened the bottom of the ninth by hitting Gleyber Torres on this first pitch. While he got Ford to fly out, he allowed a single to Mike Tauchman, who scored when LeMahieu singled. Another run came around when Aaron Judge mashed a double to left. Hand managed to strike out Gregorious, then allowed a rocket off of the bat of Gio Urshela that mercifully found Mercado’s glove to tend the game.
- The Yankees barked about balls and strikes at one point today. There were a few iffy calls, but they seemed to happen right around the same spots of the zone for both teams.
- Aaron Judge nearly robbed Lindor’s home run, but couldn’t quite extend far enough. A kid caught the ball instead. The umpiring crew did some due diligence to make sure that there wasn’t any interference, and it was an easy call: the kid’s glove never came close to extending over the wall.
- Jason Kipnis eked out the cheapest single I’ve seen in a while. He got way ahead of a 68 mph curveball from Cortes. His sidearm motion pulled him away from the ball as it dribbled to him, and so he couldn’t recover and make a play. By the time Gregorious got a glove on it, Kipnis was pretty much already on first. Gotta respect that 46 MPH exit velocity. The only ball in play hit softer was Kipnis’s sac bunt in the second.
The Indians improved to 74-51 today. They are currently two game back from the Twins, though Minnesota is still finishing up its game.