I’m still guilty of pre-judging how a game will turnout when they release the daily line-ups. And far too often, I’m very wrong. Tonight was one of those nights. I saw the pitching match-up for the opening game of this weekend series in Cleveland, and immediately thought this was going to be quite the pitching duel. The Indians sent in their ace starter, and the Yankees matched him with theirs — Luis Severino.
Severino threw 94 pitches in his 5 innings, gave up 9 hits, a walk, and 4 runs, and struck out just 1 batter. (Comparatively, the Indians’ starter threw 114 pitches into the 8th inning, still gave up 9 hits, 2 walks, and 6 runs, and struck out 9 Yankee batters.) Severino’s allowed runs came in the odd innings — 1, 3, and 5.
In the 1st, a 2nd pitch lead-off double moved to 3rd on a ground out and then scored on a single. After Romine caught a runner stealing 2nd to clear the bases, a solo home run doubled the Indians’ early lead. A lead-off single in the 3rd stole 2nd and later scored on a single. And a 2-out solo home run in the 5th capped off the Indians’ runs for the night. Warren, Robertson, Betances, and Chapman each took an inning to close out the game for Severino, throwing beautiful, efficient innings and keeping the home team to their runs total.
Much like the Indians did to the Yankees’ ace, the Yankees offense pieced together their runs to take the Indians’ ace down a peg or two. Andujar led-off the 3rd with a double, and 2 outs later, scored on Brett Gardner’s 2-run home run to get the Yankees on the board. Didi Gregorius then led-off the 4th with a solo home run up the middle. Then Stanton singled, moved to 3rd on Hicks’ bunt and a throwing error, and then easily scored on Greg Bird’s double.
With the game tied, Gregorius worked a walk to lead-off the 8th inning and then scored on Aaron Hicks’ 1-out double. That would be the end of the Indians’ starter’s night, and they spent the final 5 outs of the game piecing together their bullpen. With a new pitcher, Hicks stole 3rd, a call upheld (rightly so) despite a challenge on the tag, and then scored on Bird’s long sacrifice fly. Two pitchers later, in the 9th, Brett Gardner hit his 2nd home run of the game, a 2-out solo homer off the foul pole in right field.
Final score: 7-4 Yankees
The Indians-Yankees annual series is always a special series for my family because of the close ties my mom’s side has to the Northeast Ohio area. Of course, this was heightened in the 1990s when the Indians were about as good as they have been in recent years, making it to the postseason with several strong seasons, much like the Yankees did in those years. Not quite a recognized rivalry anywhere except in my family for the last 20-odd years, but something I always look forward to.
And for my Ohio family, it’s worth noting that four teams in the AL right now are actually statistically higher than the Indians — Red Sox, Astros, Yankees, and Mariners. In other words, Cleveland is enjoying success this season because the AL Central is the weakest division. It’s easy to be on top when you’re the only team in that division with a winnings season (above a .500 season average).