The Yankees beat the Cleveland Indians 10-5, as a result of a five-run first inning and a five-run sixth inning, on Friday night. The Yankees have now won three straight games and six of their past seven games going back to the series against the Boston Red Sox.
Esmil Rogers, who was acquired on July 31 after being put on waivers by the Toronto Blue Jays, pitched five innings while only giving up four hits and an earned run in his first start for the Yankees. He had pitched four scoreless inning out of the bullpen since joining the team. After being sent to the minors by the Blue Jays, Rogers was 2-2 with a 3.14 ERA in seven starts with AAA-Buffalo. Rogers, who got the start because David Phelps was put on the 15-day disabled list, has been another solid acquisition by Brian Cashman.
Joe Girardi has been impressed with his current rotation since the All-Star break, which only includes Hiroki Kuroda from the rotation that started the season. “Since the All-Star break, we have had a chance to win every game,” Girardi said. “That is because of them.” They would not have won three out of four against the Tigers without their impressive rotation and bullpen because they collectively had a 0.99 ERA.
Derek Jeter reached first in the first inning after Carlos Santana was not able catch a ball thrown to him by Jose Ramirez. This favorable hit ruling by the official scorer gave Jeter his 3,430th hit, which tied him with Honus Wagner for sixth most hits in baseball history.
Indians starter Trevor Bauer’s lack of control led to allowing five runs in the first inning. After a walk by Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran’s single drove Jeter home for the team’s first run. After Brain McCann walked to load the bases, Chase Headley walked on four pitches to send Ellsbury home. Beltran would score on Stephen Drew’s single to center, and then Martin Prado’s infield single scored McCann, while Jason Kipnis’s error allowed Headley to score from third.
Cleveland has one of the worst defenses in the American League, and that porous defense showed in this game because they committed two errors.
The Yankees were able to put the game out of reach in the sixth inning. John Axford, who was pitching in the sixth inning, had control problems as well. After Ichiro Suzuki, Brett Gardner and Ellsbury all walked, Beltran hit a grand slam into the bleachers in right for his 14th homer of the season. This was his 16th game of five or more RBIs of his career. Beltran has turned it around offensively as he is hitting .366 in his last 10 games with with two homers and 10 RBIs.
Marc Rzepczynski, who came in after Beltran’s grand slam, allowed the 10th run to score, but that run was unearned because of Jose Ramirez’s throwing error. Drew grounded into a fielder’s choice to first, but Francisco Cervelli, who came into the game as a result of McCann’s mild concussion, scored on Ramirez’s error.
In the third inning, Mike Aviles’s foul tip hit McCann right in his face mask, which caused Joe Girardi and head athletic trainer Steve Donahue to examine him on the field. “He felt like his jaw got jammed,” Girardi said. “And then when taking to him later when he came in, in the sixth, he said he felt a little fogy. He was having a hard time putting words to it, so I helped him. I said, ‘You’re out.’ It seems like McCann might have to go on the seven-day concussion disabled list.
Shawn Kelley had an uncharacteristically subpar outing as he allowed four earned runs on two hits and two walks while only recording one out in the sixth, to make the score 10-6, but the rest of the bullpen threw a combined three innings and only allowed three hits. Adam Warren and Rich Hill did what they had to do and then Dellin Betances recorded two strikeouts in the ninth to end the game. Betances, who was an All-Star, has now allowed only one run in his past 10 appearances.
Michael Pineda had his second promising performance while pitching for the AAA Scranton RailRiders. He pitched 4.1 innings, allowed six hits, only one run and recorded an impressive seven strikeouts. He threw 72 pitches, which puts him on track for 85-90 in his next start. Girardi could choose to have Pineda pitch on Wednesday, or have Rogers get another start based on Friday’s performance.
With a win on Saturday, the Yankees would have a four-game winning streak and would be nine games above .500. The race for the second Wild-Card spot is very tight since four teams are between 1.5 games of each other, and the Yankees are half a game behind the surging Kansas City Royals, who have won 5 games in a row.
Paul O’Neill, who hated to lose and helped the Yankees win four World Series championships, will be honored with a plaque in Monument Park before Saturday’s game.