Jason Kipnis didn’t speak those words specifically Thursday night, but he came close. After the Indians scored 19 runs on 24 hits against the Yankees, Kipnis said, “I hope we didn’t waste all our runs tonight. It would have been nice to hold on to a few.”
Friday night the Indians definitely could have used some of that excess offense as they fell to the Yankees, 3-2, at Yankee Stadium. The Indians (73-50) managed just four hits, three by Jose Ramirez.
Cleveland fell 1.5 games behind Minnesota (74-48) in the American League Central Division standings. The Tribe remained two games ahead of Tampa Bay for the AL wild card home position and three games ahead of Oakland for the road slot.
Rookie right-hander Adam Civale (1-2, 1.50) turned in his fourth straight quality start for the Indians. Civale’s teammates, however, couldn’t do much against Masihiro Tanaka (9-6, 4.56). Tanaka is just 2-2 lifetime against the Indians, but Friday night he looked like the pitcher who threw seven scoreless innings against them in Game 3 of the 2017 ALDS.
The one hitter who was zeroed in on Tanaka was Ramirez. He went 3-for-3 against him with a homer, single and double.
“He didn’t carry that over from yesterday, he’s carried it over from six weeks ago," said manager Terry Francona.
The Yankees took a 2-0 lead against against Civale in the first as they sent seven men to the plate. They used four singles, none of them hit hard, to take their lead.
Aaron Judge and Gio Urshela, with one out, hit consecutive singles. Didi Gregorius forced Urshela at second on a grounder to Carlos Santana at first as Judge went to third. Gary Sanchez made it 1-0 on a single to right and Gleyber Torres followed with another single to right to score Gregorius.
“I just tried to stick with the game play and attack the hitters,” said Civale, who allowed two earned runs in six innings. “It didn’t go as planned early on. There were some hard-hit balls early for singles. It wasn’t ideal, but we moved on from there and kept working.”
Ramirez, who tied a career high with six RBIs in Thursday’s win, put the Tribe back in the game in the second with his 20th homer of the season. The Indians, counting Yasiel Puig and Franmil Reyes, have six players with 20 or more homers.
Tanaka retired eight straight after Ramirez’s homer. Ramirez broke the streak with a leadoff single in the fifth, but Tanaka retired the next seven straight before Puig homered to the right field seats to cut New York’s lead to 3-2.
“We knew if we went out of the zone down (below the strike zone) we’d have a tough time,” said Francona, regerading Tanaka. “It’s easier said than done because he’s got so much deception with that off-speed pitch. He was very effective.”
It was an interesting night for Puig and the cannon he calls a right arm.
Cameron Maybin, who opened the season at Class AAA Columbus, started the second with a double. He moved to third on a ground out and tried to score on DJ LeMahieu’s fly ball to right. Puig caught the ball flat footed and threw a strike to catcher Roberto Perez, who tagged Maybin for the double play.
Puig, after homering in the seventh, held the Yankees hostage in the bottom of the inning. New York loaded the bases on a double by LeMahieu, walk by Judge and single by Urshela against Adam Cimber. Oliver Perez relieved and Gregorius hit a fly ball to right. LeMahieu came down the line a couple of feet before hustling back to third as the ball came steaming into the plate. Tyler Clippard relieved and Sanchez repeated Gregorius’ mistake as LeMahieu stayed anchored to third.
The inning ended with Torres hit a pop up to shallow right. Kipnis made the catch as the 240-pound Puig swept by him like a Great White shark at feeding time.
It didn’t go as well for Puig as the Yankees scored what proved to be the winning run the fifth. Judge’s liner into the corner with two out was mishandled by Puig as Judge reached second on what was called a double but likely had the Indians’ right fielder thinking of throwing him out at the bag. When Urshela singled to right, Judge was holding up at third but was able to score when Puig couldn’t glove a chest-high hop for an error.
“He just made an error,” said Francona. “He tried to be too quick on the transfer and hit the heel of his glove. He was made. He knows if he comes up with that ball the guy (Judge) probably doesn’t even go.”
The Indians missed a chance in the eighth against Zach Britton. Tyler Naquin reached to start the inning on an error by first baseman Mike Ford. Perez bunted him to second and Francisco Lindor lined a ball to the track in right center that Brett Gardner caught at the last moment.
“I thought Frankie’s ball had a chance,” said Francona. “Gardner made a great play.”
Aroldis Chapman pitched the ninth for his 34th save. He walked Santana to start the inning, but Puig popped up to first and Ramirez and Kipnis struck out — the latter on a 102 mph pitch.
Indians rookie Zach Plesac (6-3, 3.27) will face the Yankees and lefty James Paxton (8-6, 4.40) at 1:05 p.m. on Saturday. SportsTime Ohio, WTAM and WMMS will carry the game.
Plesac, coming off a no decision against the Red Sox, will be making his second start against the Yankees. On June 7, he went seven innings in the Tribe’s 5-2 win over New York. Paxton has won his last three starts. He beat Baltimore in his last start, allowing three runs on five hits in six innings.