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Yankees 5, Indians 4: Instant replay proves pivotal to win

Two overturned calls were key as the Yanks won the series opener in Cleveland.

MLB: New York Yankees at Cleveland Indians David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The pitching matchup was not in the Yankees’ favor on Thursday night, as they sent the wildly inconsistent Ivan Nova to face a resurgent Trevor Bauer. Fortunately for Joe Girardi’s crew, the Bauer who showed up on this night was much more reminiscent of the pitcher he was prior to the 2016 campaign. Five runs in 5 2/3 innings were enough to drive Bauer from the ballgame and thanks to some very close plays that required replay review, the Yankees escaped with the victory.

Nova was unsurprisingly not sharp against a tough Indians lineup. Both Jason Kipnis and Tyler Naquin took him deep in the third inning to put Cleveland up by a score of 2-0. Bauer had the Yankees mystified through four frames, giving up just one hit. Then with one out in the fifth, the suddenly scalding hot Didi Gregorius ripped a home run of his own to right field, his 10th of the season. The defensive specialist has shown more power this year than ever before and has already surpassed his previous career-high in long balls before the All-Star break.

Chase Headley and Rob Refsnyder followed Didi’s dinger with back-to-back singles. Jacoby Ellsbury popped out and it seemed like Bauer might work out of it with the lead. Brett Gardner had other plans though, and he came up with a big two-out RBI single, scoring Headley with the tying run. Although Carlos Beltran walked to load the bases, Brian McCann was retired to keep the game at 2-2.

Nova retired the side in order in the home half, sending Bauer right back to the mound in the top of the sixth. With one out, Gregorius and Starlin Castro both smoked base hits. Headley then lined his second hit of the game, and Castro was waved home to try to give the Yankees the lead. Home plate umpire Dan Bellino originally called him out, but a replay review showed that Castro touched home just before Chris Gimenez planted the tag.

Both runners moved up on the play, and Refsnyder brought home the fourth run with a sacrifice fly. That drove Bauer from the game, but the inning wasn’t over. T.J. House entered and Ellsbury greeted him with an RBI single to left. He guessed wrong on House’s move and ended up getting picked off. However, the damage was done. The Yankees would need all three of those runs in the lead.

Nova’s brief rhythm was rocked by the heart of Cleveland’s lineup. The bottom of the sixth began with doubles from Kipnis and Carlos Santana. Nova then uncorked a wild pitch to make it a two-run game. After a tough at bat by Francisco Lindor, Nova induced a grounder, so with Dellin Betances fresh, Girardi elected to go straight to his bullpen formula. Another ground ball by Mike Napoli scored a fourth run, but Betances retired four of the next five hitters to hand the 5-4 lead off to Andrew Miller. The tall southpaw did his part with a perfect frame.

That brought on Aroldis Chapman for a tense ninth inning. Napoli led off with a walk and with one out, moved to second on a pinch-hit single by Juan Uribe. Rajai Davis lined out to left, but Cleveland still had hope with Naquin, who already had one extra-base hit on the night. A single could tie it, and a double very well might have won it. Naquin smacked one hard on the ground to Mark Teixeira’s right at first base. While Tex was unable to handle it, Castro quickly scampered over to get the ball and fire to the covering Chapman.

Safe. Bases loaded for Yan Gomes. Well, maybe not:

For the second time, Girardi asked for a review. The umpires convened and after using their Phone-a-Friend lifeline, they got the call right. Ballgame.

The Yankees moved back to a game under .500. Tomorrow will be another tough matchup though, as rookie Chad Green faces Cy Young winner Corey Kluber at 7:10pm.

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