Norwalk Reflector: Tribe bats silent in another frustrating loss to Yankees

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Tribe bats silent in another frustrating loss to Yankees

By PAUL HOYNES • Updated Jul 15, 2018 at 1:34 AM

CLEVELAND — The irrepressible Jose Ramirez continues to put on an amazing finishing kick heading into the All-Star break.

Unfortunately, the Indians aren't following his lead.

Ramirez hit his 29th homer Saturday night to keep pace with Boston's J.D. Martinez for the MLB lead in long balls. In the sixth inning, he sprinted home from second base on an infield single to pull the Indians into a 4-4 tie.

But New York catcher Austin Romine, with the help of two errors, circled the bases in the seventh inning on a Little League home run to break the tie and lead the Yankees to a 5-4 victory over the Indians at Progressive Field.

The Indians are limping into the All-Star break. They're 3-6 on this 10-game homestand that ends Sunday against the Yankees.

Romine opened the seventh with a double to the wall in right center off Mike Clevinger. It bounced off the wall and right fielder Brandon Guyer couldn't handle it cleanly as Romine headed for third. Second baseman Eric Gonzalez's relay throw appeared to skip off Romine's body, hit off the fence in front of the Tribe's dugout and bound into the dugout as Clevinger frantically tried to corral the ball.

When the ball landed in the dugout, Romine was waved home for a 5-4 lead. Guyer and Gonzalez were charged with errors.

"Guyer reached for it with his glove instead of picking it up or trying to corral it with two hands," said manager Terry Francona, "so that gave him a chance to go to third. Then the throw (from Gonzalez) was on the side of the base where Romine was sliding. Josie (Ramirez) did everything he could to get to it.

"Then it hits the fence and spins. It would have been nice to just keep it at a double and take our chances."

Francona didn't have a problem with Gonzalez throwing to third instead of holding the ball.

"It's hard to eat that," said Francona. "It's real hard to eat that."

When Clevinger was asked about backing up the play, he said, "It was like trying to catch a butterfly."

Yankee lefty CC Sabathia, who won 106 games for the Indians before finding his way to the Bronx, entered the sixth with a 4-2 lead. Michael Brantley singled with one out and Ramirez walked.

Edwin Encarnacion sent a rocket to rookie third baseman Miguel Andujar. He made a nice play and threw Encarnacion out, but Brantley and Ramirez were able to advance. Guyer followed with another hard grounder to third and it short-hopped Andujar. Guyer beat Andujar's off-line throw to first as Brantley scored and Ramirez, gaining speed as he rounded third, belly-flopped across the plate ahead of Greg Bird's high throw from first to make it a 4-4 game.

"He's done that a couple of times, but the guy has been thrown out at first and we didn't score," Francona said. "Guyer did a real good job of getting down the line. That only works if you're going right from jump.

"Just like Josie's baseball, his internal clock is amazing. All Sarbie (third base coach Mike Sarbaugh) can do is get out of the way."

Ramirez could be the first Indians player to enter the All-Star break owning a share of the MLB home run lead since Al Rosen, who was tied with Boston's Ted Williams with 25 homers at the break in 1950.

It has been a torrid July for Ramirez, who is hitting .385 (20-for-52) with 11 runs, five homers and 17 RBI.

"I'm looking forward to August," Francona said. "It doesn't matter what month it is. He's just a great player and he's getting better."

The Yankees led 3-0 before the Indians even came to the plate on Saturday thanks to a three-run homer by shortstop Didi Gregorius.

Clevinger (7-5, 3.47) put himself in hot water by walking Brett Gardner to start the game and giving up a single to Aaron Judge. It looked like Clevinger had Judge struck out, but didn't get the call on an 0-2 pitch.

Gregorius hit a 1-0 pitch over the wall in right center for just his second hit this season against the Indians. Fortunately for Gregorius both have been home runs. Thursday night he homered against Corey Kluber in a 7-4 New York victory.

Ramirez took a bite out of that 3-0 deficit in a hurry as he homered with two out in the first to make it 3-1. Last year Ramirez hit 29 homers, but No. 29 didn't come until Sept. 24. He has tied Mickey Mantle and Lance Berkman for the most homers hit before the All-Star break by a switch-hitter in MLB history.

The Tribe made it a 3-2 game in the third when Gonzalez singled, stole second and came around to score on ground balls out by Francisco Lindor and Brantley.

Clevinger settled down after Gregorius' homer, retiring eight straight before Gregorius and Giancarlo Stanton singled with two out in the third. He struck out Aaron Hicks to end the inning and pitched around a one-out double by Gardner in the fifth.

In the sixth, however, Bird hit a two-out homer to push the Yankees lead to 4-2. It was the 10th homer Clevinger has allowed this season, second fewest among Tribe starters.

Clevinger allowed five runs, four earned, in six innings. He struck out eight and walked one. Sabathia allowed four runs on four hits in 5 2/3 innings. He struck out two and walked two.

Aroldis Chapman pitched the ninth for his 26th save, getting Rajai Davis to pop out with a runner on first to end it. Dave Robertson (6-4), who relieved Sabathia, was the winner.

What it means

The Yankees lead the big leagues with 29 homers in July.

The pitches

Sabathia threw 92 pitches, 59 (65 percent) for strikes. Clevinger threw 97 pitches, 68 (70 percent) for strikes.

He gone

Yankee manager Aaron Boone was ejected in the sixth inning for arguing that Giancarlo Stanton had been hit by a pitch before he swung and struck out. Give Boone credit, he got his money's worth.

Thanks for coming

The Yankees and Indians drew 35,353 fans to Progressive Field on Saturday night. First pitch was at 7:16 p.m. with a temperature of 83 degrees.

It was the Tribe's fifth sellout and its largest crowd of the season.

Up next

Right-hander Trevor Bauer (8-6, 2.23) will face the Yankees and right-hander Masahiro Tanaka (7-2, 4.68) on Sunday. Game time is 1:10 p.m with SportsTime Ohio, TBS and WLKR-FM 95.3 carrying the game.

Bauer has struck out at least eight batters, while not allowing a home run, in his last seven starts. It is the second longest streak since 1920, according the STATS LLC, behind Pedro Martinez's streak from July 1 through Aug. 20, 2002.

This will be Bauer's second start of the season against the Yankees. He lost to them on May 5, allowing two earned runs on two hits in six innings.

Tanaka will be making his second start since coming off the disabled list on Tuesday. He is 5-0 with a 4.12 ERA in his last 10 starts. He is 1-2 with a 4.63 ERA in four starts against the Indians.

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