Covering the Bases: Game 125
Yankees 3, Indians 1
FIRST: It was cruel of the baseball gods to have CC Sabathia come off the disabled list to face the Indians in the midst of another long losing streak for his former team. It was crueler still that they’d have him flirt with a no-hitter for four innings.
Can you imagine the fan reaction had Sabathia no-hit the Indians — with Michael Brantley and Matt LaPorta in the lineup — during a ninth straight loss? I’m not sure I’d want to be writing my game story while angry mobs wielding torches and pitchforks swarmed the stadium.
Alas, CC did not get his no-no.
That came to an end with one out in the fourth, when Asdrubal Cabrera crushed a solo home run to center field. The previous pitch sailed behind Cabrera’s legs, prompting home-plate ump Fieldin Culbreth to issue warnings to both sides.
It was clear retaliation for rookie starter Corey Kluber hitting Derek Jeter in the head with a fastball in the second inning. At least that’s the way the Indians saw it. That said, manager Manny Acta did not take issue with CC’s actions.
“That’s part of the game. Heat of the moment,” Acta said. “I understand Derek or them not being happy with Kluber hitting him on the head. I think everybody pretty much knows that he wasn’t doing that on purpose. But, that’s how the game is played.
“CC deserves credit. At least he didn’t throw at his head. He did what he had to do. It’s part of the game and we’re moving on.”
Sabathia picked up the win after holding the Tribe to one run on four hits over 7 1/3 innings, during which he struck out nine and walked one.
SECOND: The Indians dropped 11 in a row earlier this month and are now riding a nine-game losing streak. This is the first time in franchise history that the team has suffered two losing streaks of at least nine games in a single season.
During the 11-game slide, Cleveland’s main issue was its starting rotation, and that remained a problem early on in this current slump. That said, the offense has been mostly to blame for the past handful of defeats.
Over the last five games, the Indians have hit .226 (37-164) with six runs scored, including one each in the past three games. Over that five-game drought, the club has hit just .114 (4-35) with runners in scoring position. On Friday, Cleveland went 0-for-6 with RISP and left the bases loaded twice.
THIRD: Rookie Corey Kluber gave the Indians a decent outing, but had to leave after five frames after a 30-pitch first inning drove his pitch count up. The righty allowed one run on six hits, striking out six with two walks and the hit-by-pitch to Jeter. Giving up only one run was impressive in the sense that Kluber escaped a pair of bases-loaded jams.
That lone run came in the first inning, which has been a trend for the young starter. He now sports a 19.80 ERA (11 ER/5 IP) in the first this season, compared to a 1.45 ERA (3 ER/18.2 IP) in all other frames combined.
HOME: I write this off-day feature on rookie Cody Allen and, naturally, he allows the first runs of his career in his next appearance. Acta is trying to work Allen into more high-leverage situations down the stretch and he gave the rook the seventh inning of a 1-1 ballgame on Friday, with the top of New York’s order due up.
Two batters in, Nick Swisher launched a two-run homer.
Not only were the two runs the first runs allowed in Allen’s career (he had turned in 13.2 scoreless innings across his first 12 appearances, but Swisher’s hit was the first by a lefty hitter vs. the pitcher this year. Allen had held lefties to an 0-for-21 showing before the blast.
“It was going to happen,” Allen said of having his scoreless streak end. “I hate that it happened in a situation like that. I’d rather give up a run in my first outing when we’re down 7-1. In a 1-1 ballgame like that, during an eight-game losing streak going in, we need a ‘W.’”
Yankees (73-52) at Indians (54-71)
at 7:05 p.m. ET Saturday at Progressive Field