They ended the trek Wednesday in the Bronx by completing a doubleheader sweep of the Yankees with a 9-4 win in the second game. They won the opener, 2-1.
The 23-game test began on Aug. 8. It's safe to say they aced it by going 17-6 and pushing their current winning streak to seven games.
The starting rotation has been the star of this run, and it was on display again in the sweep of the Yankees. Trevor Bauer and Ryan Merritt weren't at their best, but they each earned a win. In August, the rotation has gone 18-4 with a 2.67 ERA.
Merritt (2-0, 1.74) has become the Tribe's super sub among pitchers. In his last two starts, both fill-in appearances with the big-league club, he's beaten the Royals and Yankees. Merritt has allowed one run in 12 innings to win those two games.
"Seeing the way all the other starters are pitching, you feed off them," said Merritt, 11-5 in the minors. "To be able to come in and make another start, in this rotation, it's an honor.
"We're making another run at the playoffs, so just to be able to try to compete and win games in these types of situations, it's just awesome."
Francona said, "The best thing about this start by Ryan is we don't have to send him down again."
Big league rosters expand on Friday.
Wednesday's doubleheader sweep completed a three-game sweep of the Yankees. It's the first time the Indians have swept a three-game set from the Yankees in the Bronx since April 4 through April 7, 1989.
It's the first time the Indians have swept a doubleheader from the Yankees since Aug. 10, 1995.
"This is great," said Edwin Encarnacion, who played first base in the second game. "Winning series in New York is not easy. It just shows you how we're playing."
The Indians, as they did in the first game, hit the Yankees early and hard.
They took a 4-0 lead in the first against lefty Jordan Montgomery (7-7, 4.15), who beat the Indians on Aug. 5 at Progressive Field.
The Indians sent 10 men to the plate in the first with Francisco Lindor and Austin Jackson setting the scene with a single and walk, respectively, to start the game. Encarnacion singled home Lindor and Carlos Santana, who started in right field, doubled off third base to score Jackson and send Encarnacion to third.
Yandy Diaz, making his second straight start at DH, made it 4-0 with a two-run single to left. It was Diaz's third RBI of the doubleheader.
Brandon Guyer followed with a single and Erik Gonzalez drew a two-out walk, but Montgomery struck out Lindor to end the inning.
The Indians outscored the Yankees, 7-0, in the first inning in the three-game sweep. Six of those runs came on Wednedsday with leadoff hitter Francisco Lindor scoring two of them as he opened both ends of the doubleheader with a single.
"Frankie was literally kind of eating a sandwich and trying to get out there (to start the second game)," said Francona. "And we got after them. It's a good way to play, because you know we're not going to have Cody (Allen); we're not going to have (Tyler) Olson, we're not going to have (Bryan) Shaw."
Olson, Shaw and Allen pitched in the first game.
The Yankees made it 4-1 in the second on Greg Bird's single. It was the only run Merritt allowed in 5 1/3 innings. He struck out one, walked two and allowed five hits.
The Indians stretched the lead to 6-1 with runs in the fifth and sixth innings. Encarnacion started the fifth with a line-drive homer to left field. He hit a 1-2 pitch off lefty Chasen Schreve for his 31st homer of the season. Encarnacion, the only player in the big leagues to hit 30 or more homers over the last six seasons, has hit 10 in August.
Gonzalez started the sixth with a double and scored when Aaron Hicks had Jackson's drive go off his glove in deep center field for an error in deep center field.
The Indians continue to score because the Yankees talented bullpen couldn't stop them. Yan Gomes hit a two-run homer in the seventh and Lindor hit another homer in the eighth. It was the 25th homer of the season for Lindor and 10th for Gomes.
Zach McAllister closed the game for the Tribe, but not before allowing a three-run homer to Bird.
What it means
The Indians, 29-16 since the All-Star break, moved to a season-high 20 games over .500 at 76-56.
Merritt threw 78 pitches, 48 (62 percent) for strikes. Montgomery threw 92 pitches, 58 (63 percent) for strikes.
Take a break
Guyer was removed from the game with a strained neck in the fourth inning. He made a diving catch in left field against Didi Gregorious in the second inning, which may have caused the injury.
Jackson moved from center to left, and Bradley Zimmer entered the game and played center to make up for Guyer's absence.
Shoulder to shoulder
Lindor's 25th homer of the season tied him with Asdrubal Cabrera for the franchise record for homers by a shortstop in a single season. Cabrera hit 25 in 2011.
Thanks for coming
The Indians and Yankees drew 39,598 to Yankee Stadium on Wednesday for the doubleheader. First pitch for the first game was 1:09 with a temperature of 74 degrees. First pitch for the second game was 5:01 p.m. with a temperature of 79 degrees.
The three-game series drew 75,851.
The Indians are off on Thursday, then open a four-game three-day series in Detroit on Friday with a day-night doubleheader at 1:10 and 7:10 p.m. Carlos Carrasco is scheduled to pitch one of those games for the Tribe with either Mike Clevinger or Josh Tomlin pitching the other. The Tigers will start left-hander Matt Boyd in the first game and Buck Farmer in the second.
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