The Yankees entered this six-game road trip with a decent lead over the Tampa Bay Rays in the division, but are in jeopardy of falling back to second place before they return to the Stadium. After dropping two of three to Toronto, the Yankees lost the first game in this series against the Indians 5-2.
The Bombers got off to a quick start, taking the lead against rookie Zach Plesac in the second inning. Gary Sanchez got things started with a leadoff single, and advanced to second thanks to a Kendrys Morales walk. Clint Frazier stepped up with the RBI opportunity, lining a ball to left-center to bring home Sanchez. Aaron Hicks doubled the lead in the third, launching a solo shot to right on a pitch that caught the middle of the plate.
From there Plesac settled down though, and stuck around for a long time. Plesac matched his career-high set in his last start by going seven strong, allowing just three hits in the last five innings and picking up five strikeouts.
Meanwhile, Domingo German stumbled after going through the order the first time around. Trouble began in the fourth, where the Indians managed to get three straight baserunners aboard and plate a run on a single from Jason Kipnis. Tyler Naquin nailed a solo home run with two outs in the fifth inning to tie the game, and Carlos Santana launched a two-run blast that put the Indians on top for good.
David Hale came on in relief starting in the seventh, and after a clean inning got into a jam in the eighth. Francisco Lindor led off the inning with a triple past Frazier in right, and Santana reached first on an intentional walk with one out. Hale got Kipnis to two strikes, but couldn’t prevent him from lifting a ball far enough to score Lindor on a sacrifice fly.
The Yankees didn’t manage much against Plesac, but they went down without a sound against the Indians bullpen. Nick Wittgren handled the top of the eighth, taking the Yankees down in order, and closer Brad Hand struck out the side in the ninth to secure the save.
New York is 1-3 on this short road trip, and will need to win both games this weekend to salvage a .500 run. They’ll also need to do so in order to hold off the Rays, who appear poised to contend with the Yankees throughout the summer. CC Sabathia will get the ball for tomorrow’s game, and we’ll have more on that around game time.