YANKEES 4, INDIANS 2
Lately it seems the Yankees are having a tough enough time scoring runs as it would be for them to toss manhole covers. Fortunately, on Sunday they managed to use the “Goldilocks” approach to scoring by putting up a number on the scoreboard that was “just right.”
Curtis Granderson homered in the sixth inning and Nick Swisher contributed three hits and an RBI as New York held down punchless Cleveland at Progressive Field to win the three-game series two games to one.
The Yankees did most of their damage in the second inning off Cleveland right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez (9-13).
Eric Chavez started the uprising with a leadoff opposite-field single to left. Raul Ibanez followed by drawing a walk and Ichiro Suzuki lashed a line drive that caromed off Jimenez’s glove and rolled into center-field to score Chavez easily with the game’s first score.
Chris Stewart then advanced Ibanez and Suzuki one base with a perfectly executed sacrifice bunt.
Derek Jeter ended the day hitless but he still contributed with a infield bouncer to third that scored Chavez. Swisher then laced an opposite-field single to left to score Suzuki, staking Yankees right-hander Freddy Garcia with an early 3-0 lead.
The Indians, however, got to Garcia with two out in the fifth inning with an Indian uprising of their own.
Jason Kipnis sliced a double to the wall in the right-field corner and Garcia, trying to pitch Asdrubal Cabrera inside, hit him with a breaking pitch. Garcia then walked the base loaded by missing on a 3-2 pitch to Shinn-Soo Choo.
In the third inning, the Indians loaded the bases with two out when Garcia missed on a similar 3-1 pitch to Choo. However, Garcia escaped by getting Carlos Santana on a routine fly to right.
The fifth inning was a different story. Santana lined the first pitch up the middle into center-field to score Kipnis and Cabrera.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi pulled Garcia in favor of Boone Logan, who ended the threat by retiring Michael Brantley on a routine groundout.
Garcia pitched 4 2/3 innings and gave up two runs on four hits and two walks and he struck out six batters.
Jimenez gave up three runs on eight hits and a walk and he fanned four.
Granderson greeted left-hander Tony Sipp with his 33rd home run of the season and the 200th home run of his career to lead off the sixth inning. He smacked a 1-2 slider just over the wall and into the first row of seats in the right-field bleachers.
Granderson becomes the eighth current Yankee to have 200 or more home runs, joining Alex Rodriguez, Andruw Jones, Mark Teixeira, Ibanez, Chavez, Jeter and Swisher.
Logan (5-2) then combined with David Robertson and Rafael Soriano to pitch 4 1/3 scoreless innings the rest of the way to earn his fifth victory in relief this season.
Soriano pitched 1 1/3 innings of scoreless ball to earn his 33rd save in 35 chances this season.
Soriano actually also literally saved face. With Ezequiel Carrera on first and one out in the ninth, Soriano used his glove to deflect a line drive off the bat of Kipnis that was headed for his face and threw Kipnis out at first to help preserve the victory for the Yankees.
With the victory the Yankees improved their season ledger to 74-53. They also picked up a half-game on the idle second-place Tampa Bay Rays in the American League East. They now lead the Rays by four games. The Indians, meanwhile, have now dropped 10 of their last 11 games and are 55-72.
- Swisher was easily the Most Valuable Player of the series. Back in his native Ohio, Swisher was 7-for-11 (.636) with a home run and four RBIs against the Indians. Since Aug. 7, Swisher is 28-for-74 (.378) with five home runs and 19 RBIs. The hot streak nearly exactly corresponds with his shift to the No. 2 spot in the batting order, which came on Aug. 8.
- Soriano has now converted his last nine save chances dating back to July 23 in Seattle. Over that span Soriano has given up just two runs on nine hits and two walks with 11 strikeouts over 12 2/3 innings of work. That is an ERA of 1.42 and a WHIP of 0.87. Soriano is 2-1 with a 1.57 ERA and 33 saves on the season. Mariano who?
- Granderson’s home run was his 33rd of the season, which is fourth-best in the American League. It also was his first round-tripper since an Aug. 18 game against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium. It was also his 12th home run this season off a left-handed pitcher.
This was a big victory considering the Rays and the Baltimore Orioles did not play and the Yankees were able to salvage the final road series before returning home for six games at Yankee Stadium. Garcia could have pitched a little longer and the Yankees should have scored more runs in the series but the bottom line is they won a game they needed to win.
The Yankees return to the friendly confines of Yankee Stadium on Monday to begin a three-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Rookie right-hander David Phelps (3.4, 2.69 ERA) will open the series for the Yankees starting in place of Ivan Nova, who is on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation. Phelps lost his last start on Aug. 18 against the Boston Red Sox despite giving up three runs in 6 2/3 innings of work. Phelps has never faced the Blue jays.
The Blue Jays will counter with right-hander Henderson Alvarez (7-11, 4.84 ERA). Alvarez surrendered a career-high eight runs and 12 hits in his 4 1/3 innings in his last start against the Texas Rangers. he has not won a game since July 28. He has no record and 5.25 ERA lifetime against the Yankees.
Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast by the YES Network.