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Indians rally, sweep attempt comes up just short

By JOE NOGA • Jun 9, 2019 at 6:30 PM

CLEVELAND — The Indians mounted a pair of rallies against New York’s bullpen Sunday but fell short in extra innings as the Yankees came away with a 7-6 win at Progressive Field.

New York took the lead in the 10th when Cameron Maybin doubled and Aaron Hicks drove him in with an RBI double to left off Cleveland reliever Oliver Perez (1-1, 4.66).

Didi Gregorious, who entered the game at shortstop for New York in the ninth as a defensive replacement, botched Francisco Lindor’s two-hop grounder, allowing Jose Ramirez to score the tying run from second and force extra innings. Clint Frazier had given the Yankees a 6-5 lead in the top of the inning with a bases-loaded sacrifice fly against Adam Cimber.

Aroldis Chapman (1-1, 1.40) earned the win after striking out Oscar Mercado with the bases loaded in the ninth after the error by Gregorious. Stephen Tarpley picked up his first save with a perfect ninth inning.

With the win, the Yankees avoid their first three-game sweep in Cleveland since 1970. The Tribe’s record against American League East Division teams drops to 12-6.

Facing a 5-0 deficit in the fifth, Leonys Martin snapped an 0-for-16 skid and ignited a four-run rally with a leadoff home run against Yankees reliever Tommy Kahnle. Carlos Santana added an RBI single and Mike Freeman — in for an ailing Jason Kipnis — homered to left to cut Cleveland’s deficit to one.

It was Freeman’s second career home run and his first since April 12, 2017 against Houston as a member of the Seattle Mariners. Freeman took over in the sixth after Kipnis was removed for precautionary reasons with right hip tightness.

Jake Bauers’ seventh homer, a 434-foot solo shot to center off Adam Ottavino in the seventh, tied the score at 5.

“I was really proud of the way they competed today,” Indians manager Terry Francona said of his team, which fell to 33-32. Cleveland trails Minnesota by 10.5 games in the AL Central and 1.5 games behind Texas for the second AL Wild Card.

“It’s a tough way to start the day, and then knowing what’s sitting out there ready to come in,” Francona said of the Yankees bullpen. “We’ll win that game sometimes. We had the winning run at third base. That was a heck of a game. There was a lot going on.”

Circumstances dictated that the Yankees would have a “bullpen game” on Sunday, and Shane Bieber’s early command issues forced the Indians to join them. Bieber lasted just 1 2/3 innings, surrendering five earned runs in a disastrous second frame.

With starter Masahiro Tanaka on the paternity list following the birth of his daughter last week, New York sent reliever Chad Green to the mound and planned to follow with a parade of bullpen arms in order to make it through the day. Bieber had pitched seven dominant innings in his previous start against Minnesota, ostensibly giving the Indians an advantage.

But Bieber lost command of the strike zone in the second inning after retiring the first five Yankees he faced. New York scored on a Brett Gardner two-run homer, an RBI single by D.J. LeMahieu and a two-run double with the bases loaded by Luke Voit.

Bieber struck out four and walked a pair while facing 12 batters before being relieved by A.J. Cole. It matched the shortest outing of his young career, a July 24 exit last year against Pittsburgh.

“He looked so good, then got the two quick outs (in the second),” Francona said of Beiber. “And then when he gave up the single and homer, it just seemed to go south. And all of the sudden, his breaking ball is out of the zone and he wasn’t in command. I’ve never seen it go that quick with him like that before.”

Cole, Nick Goody, Tyler Clippard and Tyler Olson each logged scoreless appearances for Cleveland’s bullpen, which entered the game with the lowest ERA in the majors (3.29).

Meanwhile, Green was able to escape the second inning without giving up a run, striking out Bauers after a two-out bloop single by Jose Ramirez and a walk to Roberto Perez. Nestor Cortez followed Green to the mound and blanked Cleveland for three innings, striking out a pair.

“We moved on from yesterday. Today we lost,” Francona said. “Now we get a day off, and the guys deserve it — then we’ll see how we do against the Reds.”

Up next

The Indians are off today before welcoming Cincinnati to Progressive Field for a brief two-game visit starting Tuesday. Trevor Bauer (4-6, 3.39) will start for the Indians while the Reds send righty Luis Castillo (6-1, 2.38) to the mound. The game is scheduled for a 7:10 p.m. first pitch and will air on SportsTime Ohio and WLKR 95.3 FM.

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