Don’t let the final score deceive you. This game felt awfully close for a blowout. The Yankees jumped out to an early lead, but the Indians didn’t go away quietly. Both teams brought their bats; outs were at a premium. At the end of the slugfest, the Yankees topped the Indians by a score of 13-7. They once again sit one game over .500.
The Indians have a number of flame-throwing pitchers in their rotation. Josh Tomlin is not one of them. The soft-tossing right-hander left a number of pitches over the plate and he paid for it. In the first inning Tomlin quickly retired Brett Gardner before allowing a single to Jacoby Ellsbury. Mark Teixeira, who announced his retirement plans earlier in the afternoon, followed with a booming double to make it second and third with one out. Brian McCann then grounded out to second, scoring Ellsbury. Chase Headley grounded out to end the inning, but just like that the Yankees had a 1-0 lead.
The Yankees continued to punish Tomlin in the bottom of the third. In a mirror of the first inning, a one-out rally began with Ellsbury and Teixeira reaching base. McCann then doubled to score Ellsbury and move Teixeira to third. Headley drew a walk to load the bases before Starlin Castro swatted his first career grand slam. I didn’t think that it was particularly well hit; it looked like he hit it just off of the end of the bat. Nevertheless, the ball carried well and the Yankees extended their lead to 6-0.
Tomlin settled down in the fourth before unraveling again in the fifth inning. With two outs, he issued a walk to Castro. Gary Sanchez, who showed off his cannon-like throwing arm earlier in the game, followed and launched an RBI double into the gap in right-center. Center fielder Tyler Naquin was playing in shallow left-center and had no chance of making the play. That finished Tomlin’s night, having allowed seven runs in less than five innings of work.
Michael Pineda, on the other hand, pitched a serviceable start. He wasn’t great, but he got the job done. He kept the Indians off of the board until the fifth inning. With two outs and two runners on base, Pineda allowed a three-run home run to the number nine hitter Chris Gimenez. It wouldn’t be a Pineda start if he didn’t allow a home run with two outs.
Pineda recovered with a strong sixth, retiring the side in order. He came back out for the seventh but was lifted immediately after allowing a double to Jose Ramirez. Richard Bleier relieved Pineda and allowed the inherited runner to score. By the end of the night, Pineda allowed four runs over six innings. That’s good enough for the win, but it raised his season ERA to 5.17. Tough year for Big Mike.
Following the starters’ departures, the game became a battle of the bullpens. Shawn Morimando took over in the sixth for the Indians. He quickly recorded two outs before issuing a pair of walks to Teixeira and McCann. Headley followed with an RBI single to score Teixeira and move McCann to second. After a walk to Castro, Morimando faced Sanchez with the bases loaded and subsequently walked in a run. That made it 9-3 Yankees.
Morimando returned in the seventh inning and promptly allowed a leadoff home run to Aaron Hicks. He allowed a triple to Gardner before being lifted from the game. Talk about a rough outing. I don’t think that this game will make it onto his highlight reel. Kyle Crockett took over the next two innings and allowed a pair of runs himself.
The Yankees bullpen didn’t fare much better. Johnny Barbato took the mound in the eighth, marking his return from Triple-A. He allowed three runs in the appearance. Even with a significant lead, that’s not a good sign. The April version of Barbato seems to have disappeared. Nick Goody issued two walks in an otherwise scoreless ninth to close out the game.
The Yankees go for the series win tomorrow afternoon. CC Sabathia faces off against Corey Kluber, both of who won Cy Young Awards pitching in Cleveland. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05pm.