It was a long day for the Yankees between the crushing news of three fresh injuries and multiple missed opportunities at the plate during their game against the Indians. Thankfully, it all ended in a win, as Jacoby Ellsbury's 14th inning solo homer bailed the Yankees out and guided them to an exhausting 5-4 victory in Cleveland.
Pitching his first game as a Yankee, Brandon McCarthy got off to an inauspicious start in the first, with little help from his defense. Jason Kipnis led off the game with a single and an out later, the red-hot Michael Brantley lined a single as well. Carlos Santana followed with a grounder to Mark Teixeira at first that looked like would become a relatively easy fielder's choice. Unfortunately, Tex's throw to first hit Brantley and trickled away from second base. Instead of at least runners on the corners and two outs, the bases were now loaded with one out. Lonnie Chisenhall hit a soft grounder to bring the game's first run in, and Nick Swisher continued his resurgent series against his former team with a two-run single to right field. Given the unimpressive lineup tonight that lacked both Brett Gardner and Carlos Beltran, those three early runs appeared daunting.
Teixeira atoned for his error though, as three innings later against Josh Tomlin, he led off with a home run that just got over the fence in right field. When Tomlin returned for the fifth, Tex was at it again. Ellsbury hit a one-out double and Derek Jeter laced a single to left, though it was struck too hard for even the speedy Ellsbury to score. Brian McCann was able to bring him home with a deep fly to center field anyway. Tex then crushed the inning's biggest blow, a towering two-run home run to right field that went deeper than his first and made the score 4-3, Yankees. Both times, Tomlin tried to put a low pitch by Teixeira, and instead, he slugged a pair of homers, his first multi-homer game since 2012.
The Yankees' lead did not last for long. The next half-inning, Asdrubal Cabrera smacked a double to left field, and after Brantley grounded out, Santana singled to right to tie the game. That was actually the only earned run McCarthy allowed all game, as he overcame an up-and-down first inning that resulted in three unearned runs and eventually went on to pitch 6 2/3 innings of effective baseball. The defense behind him improved as well, as both Brendan Ryan and Brian Roberts made some pretty plays behind him to rob the opposition of hits. He lived up to his billing as a groundball pitcher, as 13 outs came on the ground, and most of the nine scattered hits he allowed snuck through holes in the infield. It was a fine first outing for McCarthy, but Tomlin matched him. The Indians' starter pitched seven innings of four-run ball himself, as he did not let the mistakes to Teixeira throw him off track. The teams remained tied at four as the bullpens entered the game.
Both teams' relievers pitched well as the game headed to extra innings. Matt Thornton got the final out of the seventh and Dellin Betances twirled another brilliant inning before Adam Warren worked a scoreless inning and a third. On the other side, Scott Atchison and Bryan Shaw kept the Yankees off the board, but Cody Allen ran into trouble in the tenth. Jeter walked and McCann flared a single to left to move him into scoring position with nobody out. The Yankees sadly did nothing with this scoring opportunity thuogh, as Teixeira flew out to center, Roberts nearly grounded into a double play (he was initially ruled out but the call was overturned when replay showed Allen missed the base), and Ichiro Suzuki struck out in embarrassing fashion.
The Indians felt bad about the Yankees' RISPfail, so they were kind enough to indulge in some epic RISPfail of their own. David Huff entered with one out in the tenth and promptly walked the bases loaded. (Huff did not look very good, but he certainly wasn't helped by home plate umpire Tom Woodring, who seemed to call similar pitches for strikes earlier in the game.) The Indians could have won the game on an out, but Shawn Kelley turned in a Houdini act by striking out Nick Swisher and getting David Murphy to ground out weakly to shortstop. Everyone exhaled, Swisher fumed, and the game miraculously moved on.
For several innings, it seemed like neither of the offenses were particularly interested in actually winning the game. Kelley threw a scoreless 11th, and Chase Whitley, who was likely to start next Sunday's game against the Orioles, was used anyway and worked through two innings, striking out three along the way. Likewise, John Axford and Marc Rzepczynski (whose name is an absolute bitch and half to spell when you've been up for ~17 hours) held the Yankees at bay through the 13th. Cleveland skipper Terry Francona made the somewhat-curious decision to lift Rzepczynski with one out in the 14th and no one on base. The righthanded Ryan was coming up, but he's not a real threat and in fact had struck out four times already. Nevertheless, Francona hooked Rzepczynski in favor of Vinnie Pestano, and though Pestano retired Ryan, Ellsbury came up next and took him deep.
Thank you based god.
David Robertson entered and pitched a bit of a heart-stopping bottom of the 14th, as Kipnis reached second with one out. D-Rob had to channel his inner Houdini himself, and he fanned Cabrera, then got Brantley to line out to left. Even that final out was an adventure, as Kelly Johnson dropped a foul ball that would have ended the game, and the recently-recalled Zoilo Almonte had trouble with the liner to left but finally caught it. Our spirits were almost as broken as Beltran's face.
The Yankees will go for the series victory tomorrow evening as David Phelps takes on T.J. House at 7:05 PM.