Cleveland Indians: 3 takeaways from the sweep of the Yankees


The Cleveland Indians didn’t slow down a bit in New York, taking all three games against the Yankees. Here is what stood out from the sweep. Hot takes about the Cleveland Indians from earlier this summer aren’t aging well. The team is on fire and fighting for the top spot in the American League, leaving […]

Cleveland Indians: 3 takeaways from the sweep of the YankeesBelieveland BallBelieveland Ball – A Cleveland Indians Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

Source: Wahoos on First


Cleveland Indians: Greg Allen receives a surprising September call-up


The Cleveland Indians called up speedy Double-A outfielder Greg Allen to bolster their roster as part of the roster expansion for the September grind. As baseball eases its burden on managers in September by allowing the rosters to expand to 40 players instead of the usual 25, the Cleveland Indians will have some interesting decisions to […]

Cleveland Indians: Greg Allen receives a surprising September call-upBelieveland BallBelieveland Ball – A Cleveland Indians Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

Source: Wahoos on First


Dominic DeMasi – Taking Advantage of Opportunity with Lynchburg


Pitching is an inherently difficult activity. It takes many years to master the art of hurling the baseball over home plate with consistency and accuracy. The minor league system provides opportunities for pitchers to hone their craft. For Dominic DeMasi of the High-A Lynchburg Hillcats, his journey through the Indians farm system has been about developing that consistency.

“When I got drafted I was actually more over the top mechanically,” said DeMasi. “I throw a sinker, cutter, and slider. I’m just trying to repeat the same stuff. The change from when I was drafted is now just getting repetition.”

The Indians selected DeMasi in the 31st round of the 2014 draft out of Valdosta State. In his professional career, he has operated primarily as a reliever, having started only four games prior to the current campaign. This season, when pressed into duty as a starter, he performed quite well, on par with most of the other pitchers who have taken turns in the Hillcats rotation.

“It’s pretty crazy. They keep telling me I’m still a reliever, and I have like eleven starts now,” says DeMasi. “It’s just baseball both ways. I don’t think about it. I started in college as a junior, so I have a feel for what my routine is as a starter.”

In eleven starts, he achieved a 4-1 record with a 2.14 ERA and held opposing batters to a .197 batting average. In the second of those starting assignments, he pitched five innings against the Salem Red Sox, facing the minimum 15 batters while allowing only a single hit. The lone base runner was promptly erased by a double play.

His most recent start, number 12, was on the road in Kinston, facing off against the Down East Wood Ducks. He tossed seven strong innings, allowing only three hits and a walk and no earned runs. Multiple errors put two runs on the board before DeMasi left the game, and he got tagged with a loss to move his record to 4-2.

A native of East Rockaway, New York, on Long Island, his family relocated to Georgia when he was just three years old, so he considers himself a southerner, having lived in Georgia his whole life since. He attended Calvary Baptist High School where the team he played on made it to the final four his sophomore and senior years, and the final eight during his junior season. His hitting coach was an alum of Valdosta State and had attended his high school and got DeMasi a tryout with the Blaze.

“I had signed with South Georgia, a junior college,” DeMasi said. “My coach got me a showcase and I fell in love with Valdosta State at the get go.”

The school is more of a football environment, and DeMasi played on both the football and baseball teams while in college, alternating seasons between pitching and punting. Notable Valdosta State athlete alumni include Jessie Tuggle, a Pro Bowler for the Atlanta Falcons, Maurice Leggett, and Antonio Edwards, among other NFL players. On the baseball side, the most notable figure is Jason Bulger, who was a first round selection of the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2001 and saw time in the Majors over seven seasons, first with the D-Backs and then the Los Angeles Angels.

“It was a lot of fun,” says DeMasi. “During football season, I would go to baseball three times a week, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, just to throw and get my arm moving. During baseball season, I wouldn’t throw the football, I would wait till summer.”

Two experiences motivated DeMasi to target the baseball draft. Conditioning from summer workouts for football increased his endurance. During a scout day during his junior year football season a coach observed DeMasi and urged him to follow in the tradition of previous Blaze athletes and pursue a chance to be drafted in baseball.

“I hit 94 on scout day and he [DeMasi’s pitching coach] said, ‘You have a shot at this if you keep working.’ I put all my chips in and did what I had to do to get drafted.”

DeMasi rejoined the Hillcats after making eleven appearances for them in 2016. After putting up a 7.04 ERA in 23 innings, for a Hillcats team that lost the league championship to Myrtle Beach, he has come back and refocused himself in the current season. In addition to taking on as starting role, even if temporary, he has made a short one-game appearance for AA Akron, and he got to pitch an inning in a spring training game.

“That was pretty exciting. We were at Kansas City and we went to the tenth inning. They said, DeMasi, you’re in. I’d backed up for two or three games before that but I didn’t expect to get in. It gives you a lot more energy when you are playing in front of 12,000 fans”

He threw a perfect inning, including getting Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas out.

At Akron, DeMasi got a spot start in mid-July against the Binghamton Rumble Ponies. He pitched five innings, earning the win on a two-hit, six-strikeout effort.

“It was a change of scenery,” DeMasi said. “I’d been here all year. It was good to get away and see those guys who I’d played with and got drafted with. Some of the starters up there had come up from Lynchburg, like Esparza. It was good getting to see what it’s like at AA. Coming back it gave me more confidence that I can compete at that level.”

With that renewed confidence and a repeatable set of mechanics, DeMasi has quietly put up strong numbers for a Hillcats pitching staff that is dominating the Carolina League. In 94 innings, DeMasi has a 2.68 ERA, with 64 strikeouts to only 21 walks, and has limited batters to a .231 average. In addition to getting credit for six victories, he also has two saves. Whether he is on the mound for the National Anthem, or when there are only three outs remaining, his approach is the same.

“Getting outs. That’s all it comes down to. It doesn’t matter if it’s the beginning of the game or the end of the game.”

This season, DeMasi has turned the corner and has shown himself and the Indians organization that he is capable of pitching effectively at an elite level. Being part of a strong Hillcats rotation has put him in position to further his career. Right now, completing his communications degree at Valdosta State will have to wait. He has found that elusive consistency as a pitcher and has all his chips in as he contributes to a run at a championship.

Photo: Jay Westcott/The News and Advance



Make it Seven Straight as Cleveland Completes Sweep; Indians 9, Yankees 4


Ryan Merritt made his second consecutive strong spot start and the Cleveland bats came alive as the Indians completed the rare three-game sweep at Yankee Stadium with a 9-4 win over the New York Yankees in game two of Wednesday’s doubleheader.

The Indians (76-56) will take a well deserved Thursday off, holding a voluntary practice session in Detroit prior to their four-game series against the Tigers this weekend that includes another doubleheader on Friday night. They moved to 19-9 in the month of August and have a seven-game lead in the American League Central at day’s end as Minnesota defeated the Chicago White Sox for the second consecutive night with an 11-1 victory to improve to 19-10 in the month.

Encarnacion - Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Encarnacion – Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Cleveland dealt a major blow to New York’s chase for the top spot in the AL East by outscoring the Bronx Bombers 17-7 in the series. The three-game sweep at Yankee Stadium was the first for the Indians since 1989. Combined with a three-game winning streak from the top team in the division, the Boston Red Sox, the Yankees (70-62) now trail by five and a half games in the East while their lead in the AL Wild Card picture dropped to a single game over the streaking Minnesota Twins, which have ripped off three straight victories of their own.

The Indians erupted for four runs in the first inning against left-hander Jordan Montgomery and piled on in the later innings against the Yankees bullpen. Francisco Lindor started the second game just as he did the first with a single before moving to second on a walk from Austin Jackson. After a strikeout by Jose Ramirez, Edwin Encarnacion plated the first run of the game with a single to center. A double by Carlos Santana scored Jackson and moved Encarnacion to third before a single by Yandy Diaz drove both runners in to make it a 4-0 game just six batters into the contest. The Tribe would load the bases on a single by Brandon Guyer and a two-out walk by Erik Gonzalez, but Lindor struck out in his second at bat of the inning to end the frame.

Merritt got a double play ball in the first, but the second was not as easy. Aaron Judge reached on an infield single to short and moved to second one out later on a single by Aaron Hicks. Greg Bird gave the Yankees a run with a single to right-center, scoring Judge from second to make it a 4-1 game before Merritt worked out of it.

Montgomery would be finished after just four innings of work and Encarnacion greeted lefty reliever Chasen Shreve in a rude manner, hitting a solo homer to left to extend Cleveland’s lead to 5-1. It would start four straight innings of scoring for the Tribe.

Gonzalez started the sixth with a leadoff double off of Shreve. After a groundout by Lindor, Jackson doubled to deep center over the head of Hicks to push across Gonzalez and send Shreve to the showers.

Caleb Smith, who entered for Shreve in the sixth, came back out for the seventh and got a pair of outs around a walk of Diaz, but Gomes made him pay with a two-run homer to right to make it an 8-1 game. Lindor would homer off of him to lead off the eighth, making it a 9-1 contest.

The Yankees scored in mop-up time off of Zach McAllister, who entered for the bottom of the ninth in the lopsided ball game. Todd Frazier walked with one out and moved into scoring position on a single by Hicks. Bird worked his count full before homering to center, scoring three runs to make it 9-4. A pair of pop outs in the infield would bring an end to the game and the series, giving the Indians their seventh consecutive win.

Merritt - Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Merritt – Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Merritt (2-0, 1.74 ERA) earned his second straight win with five and one-third innings of one-run baseball. He allowed five hits and walked a pair while striking out only one, but he was aided by two separate double play grounders. He spared the Indians bullpen excessive work in the doubleheader.

Montgomery (7-7, 4.15) lasted just four innings in taking his seventh loss of the season. He was charged with four runs on six hits with three walks and five strikeouts and needed 92 pitches to register 12 outs on the afternoon. Each reliever to follow him to the mound was tagged by the Tribe offense, as Shreve gave up two runs on four hits in an inning and a third, while Smith allowed three runs on three hits, including a pair of homers, over three and two-thirds innings while falling on the sword to prevent further wear and tear on the New York bullpen.

Four different Indians tallied multi-hit games off of the Yankees staff. Santana, making the start in right field, had two singles and a double, driving in one run while scoring another. Lindor, Jackson, and Encarnacion each notched two hits apiece. Lindor hit his 25th homer of the year while Encarnacion slugged his 31st.

Montgomery and Smith were both sent to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre following the Yankees’ loss.

While the Indians wait to start their series with the Tigers on Friday while enjoying their first scheduled off day in 23 days, the Yankees will stay put in New York to begin a key four-game weekend series with the Red Sox, one that could have a significant impact on the AL playoff picture as it currently exists.

Photo: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images



Tribe Wins Sixth Straight as Bauer and Bullpen Protect Early Lead; Indians 2, Yankees 1


Two first inning runs would be all the support he would get, but Trevor Bauer and the Cleveland bullpen would make the runs stand up as the Indians defeated the New York Yankees, 2-1, in game one of Wednesday’s doubleheader from Yankee Stadium.

Bauer and left-hander Jaime Garcia faced off against one another in the day’s first game and the Indians gave Bauer a pair of runs of support before he even took the mound. Francisco Lindor started the game with a single to right. He stole second after a fly out by Brandon Guyer and moved to third on a single to left by Jose Ramirez. A passed ball by Gary Sanchez allowed Lindor to score and Ramirez to move into scoring position and Yandy Diaz delivered the second run of the frame with a single to center.

Lindor - Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Lindor – Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Bauer allowed a pair to reach in each of the first two innings before the Yankees finally drove a run home. Aaron Hicks drew his second walk of the afternoon with one out in the third and moved to second on a groundout by Sanchez. Hicks moved up to third on a wild pitch by Bauer and scored easily on a double to left by Didi Gregorius, cutting the Indians lead to 2-1.

The Indians would have their chances against Garcia, but could not extend their lead. In the top of the third, Ramirez doubled with two down and Diaz walked as Ramirez picked off third base, but Jay Bruce grounded the next pitch to second to strand a pair. Roberto Perez, who singled with one out in the fourth, moved to second on a groundout but advanced no further on a strikeout by Giovanny Urshela to end the inning. In Garcia’s last full inning of work, Ramirez reached with his third hit in three trips with a two-out infield single and moved into scoring position on another walk by Diaz, but Bruce again grounded into the shift to leave two more on the base paths.

Chad Green was sensational out of the Yankees bullpen to keep the game close after coming on for Garcia with one on and nobody out in the sixth. He worked two and two-thirds scoreless innings, striking out the first five that he faced while also getting a caught stealing of Carlos Santana, his inherited runner from Garcia. Green would give up a leadoff double to Ramirez in the eighth, but struck out two more to give him seven Ks of the eight men that he faced. Tommy Kahnle got Santana to pop out to third to end the eighth.

Bauer cleared six innings for the Tribe before turning the game over to the bullpen. Tyler Olson gave up an infield single to short to Ronald Torreyes and a sacrifice to Brett Gardner before Bryan Shaw came on in relief. He struck out Hicks and got Sanchez to fly to center to end the seventh and returned for the bottom of the eighth, getting a liner and a second strikeout before handing the ball over to Cody Allen. The Tribe closer, on for the four-out save, struck out Greg Bird to close the eighth. In the ninth, Starlin Castro pinch-hit for Todd Frazier and struck out. Jacoby Ellsbury grounded to third and Aaron Judge, pinch-hitting for Torreyes, struck out on a high heater to give Allen his 22nd save of the season.

The win for the Indians (75-56) was their sixth straight and moved the team to a season-best 19 games over the .500 mark. The victory also moved them to a full seven games in front of Minnesota and to 18-9 in August with a +53 run differential (136-83). The Yankees (70-61) dropped to four and a half games in back of Boston in the AL East, with the Red Sox set to play later in the day in a 7:07 PM ET start in Toronto. Their lead in the race for the top AL Wild Card spot shrank to just two games over the second Wild Card team, the Twins.

Bauer - Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Bauer – Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Bauer gave the Indians what they needed the most in the first game of a doubleheader. He provided six quality innings on the mound, allowing just a run on four hits. He struggled with command at times, walking four, but minimized the damage to just the one third-inning run while striking out four in the contest. He is now 7-1 in ten overall appearances (nine starts) since the All-Star break.

Garcia was better in his second start of the month against the Indians, but again failed for the fifth time as a Yankee to complete six innings on the mound. He worked five-plus on Wednesday, allowing two runs (just one earned) on six hits. He walked three and worked around heavy traffic throughout the afternoon, and struck out five, needing 97 pitches (56 strikes) to clear his appearance.

Ramirez was a perfect 4-for-4 with two singles and two doubles on the afternoon while scoring a run. Lindor scored the other run of the game on the passed ball, while Diaz drove in the second run and reached base three times in four trips (one single, two walks).

Game two of the doubleheader is set to start approximately 30 minutes after the completion of the day’s first game. The Indians will call up left-hander Ryan Merritt (1-0, 1.76 ERA) to make his second start in the last week. He made one of his best regular season starts of his career to date in his last spot start for the club on Friday when he shutout the Kansas City Royals over six and two-thirds innings, giving up seven hits and a walk in earning his first win of the season.

The Yankees will send left-hander Jordan Montgomery (7-6, 4.00) to the mound. Montgomery, who will be recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre as the 26th man for the Yankees, made just one start for the RailRiders and just his second minor league outing of the season. It will be his second start against Cleveland this month after allowing one run on three hits (including a solo home run) over five innings with seven strikeouts in a no-decision.

Photo: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images



Cleveland Indians: Three young pitchers who could get starts in September


September call-ups are almost upon us and that means some new faces could get playing time with the Cleveland Indians. With teams wanting to get regular guys extra rest before the October grind, expansion provides depth to do just that. The Cleveland Indians are rolling in August. They have won five straight games and the […]

Cleveland Indians: Three young pitchers who could get starts in SeptemberBelieveland BallBelieveland Ball – A Cleveland Indians Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

Source: Wahoos on First


Klein spent two tumultuous years as Indians’ general manager



The Indians in 1985 were a team in turmoil.

The on-field product was mediocre, and ownership was going through a strained period. In addition to being gouged for rent from the Cleveland Stadium Corporation run by Art Modell, the ship was rudderless, owned officially by the estate of Steve O’Neill, who had died two years earlier. In his tenure as owner, O’Neill had staved off multiple offers for the team (New York City real estate tycoon Donald Trump had even made a bid for the team) for fear of it leaving town.

New team president Peter Bavasi – son of the legendary executive Buzzie Bavasi – was shaking up management of the team. Among his hires was a baseball lifer named Joe Klein.

Klein, who died last week in Philadelphia at the age of 75, had walked into an impossible situation. And try as he might, he couldn’t make it better.

Bavasi’s management style could be called “scorched earth.” Already viewed with suspicion for previous jobs consulting with cities who wanted a major league team, he excoriated the media for negative coverage of the Indians, guided longtime executive Gabe Paul off into the sunset and announced the resignation of longtime scouting director Bob Quinn (Quinn said he was fired). He even did away with complimentary tickets, prompting Indians drummer John Adams (who had been comped for years) to tell the Los Angeles Times, “I hope Bavasi buys a free agent with the $2 he gets from my tickets.”

Bavasi’s management philosophy was to hire a team of executives to make him effectively obsolete, and that included Klein, who had spent seven years in the Washington Senators’ farm system, and then joined the team as a minor league manager and executive before being named general manager in 1982. After two seasons at the helm in Arlington, he was fired, and spent the 1984 season as a special assistant to Kansas City General Manager John Scheuerholz.

In fact, Klein was a hot enough commodity that after he’d been hired as the Indians general manager, Major League Baseball wanted to interview him for director of the Major League Scouting Bureau. But his most notable transaction in his first season as Indians general manager left fans fuming. He traded away Bert Blyleven for four players, the most prominent of which were all-name team member Rich Yett and Jay Bell. The Indians lost 102 games that year, and fan reaction veered from rage to apathy, with attendance cratering out at 655,181 – the lowest in a decade.

But what a difference a year makes. The following year, the Indians won 84 games and were in third place as late as July. Larry King said the team was one pitcher away from the World Series. Hosannas were being rained down on Bavasi and Klein. This rebuild finally worked.

At the end of 1986, the O’Neill estate sold the team to Cleveland real estate developers Dick and David Jacobs. As 1987 dawned, Bavasi left with the Indians in what he thought was a good place. The Indians appeared poised for bigger and better things – as evidenced by the infamous Sports Illustrated “Indian Uprising” cover, and slightly less well known Sport Magazine story that called them the Erie Sensation.

Roberto Dias of United Press International wrote, “Observers a decade from now will credit Bavasi for helping turn the Indians from a perennial loser into a respectable team.” The results came, but the credit would go to someone else.

But those 1987 Indians ended up losing 101 games, and the pitching staff registered the highest ERA in team history. The die was cast, and on Dec. 18, Klein resigned rather than accept a demotion from new team president Hank Peters, who was hired by the Jacobs brothers after being fired by the Orioles. Klein remained active in baseball, serving as the Tigers’ general manager for a forgettable stretch in the mid-1990s and was an executive in the Atlantic League from its inception in 1997 until his death.

Upon his departure from Cleveland, Klein said, “This is going to be a winning organization. Not being a part of it will be hard, but I’ll get the satisfaction from watching from afar.”

He was right, but the bulk of the credit should go to his successors.



Indians and Yankees Postponed, Will Play Two Wednesday


Rains in New York on Tuesday forced the cancellation of the 7:05 PM ET game between the Yankees and the visiting Cleveland Indians.

The middle game of the three-game set between two of the top teams in the American League will be rescheduled for Wednesday afternoon as part of a traditional twin bill from Yankee Stadium.

Tuesday’s originally scheduled probables, right-hander Trevor Bauer (13-8, 4.59 ERA) and left-hander Jaime Garcia (5-8, 4.52), will get the call in the first game of Wednesday’s double dip at 1:05 PM ET.

Bauer is riding a particularly hot stretch on the mound for Cleveland with wins in his last six decisions. His last time out, he knocked out the Boston Red Sox behind good offensive support while allowing four runs on seven hits in five and one-third innings. That outing ended a stretch of five consecutive quality starts for the right-hander. In his previous outing against the Yankees earlier this month, he earned his second career win over New York after firing seven innings of one-run baseball. He is 6-1 in eight second half starts (and one relief appearance).

Garcia will take his second shot at the Indians in the month and will hope to fare better than his first attempt. He was tagged by the Tribe for six runs (five earned) on five hits with four walks in just four and two-thirds innings in his first start with the Yankees after being acquired in a late July trade from the Minnesota Twins. He is winless in four starts with New York and has not won a game since winning three straight games in a tumultuous July, when he won his final two decisions with the Atlanta Braves before earning the win in his only appearance with Minnesota after being dealt to the Twins prior to the deadline.

The second game will feature neither pitcher from the day’s original matchup – Josh Tomlin (7-9, 5.38) nor CC Sabathia (10-5, 3.82). Tomlin will remain on the disabled list through the day and Thursday’s off day and is expected to be activated on Friday prior to the Indians’ doubleheader with the Detroit Tigers this weekend. Tomlin could appear in one of those games, or could be utilized later in the weekend set.

The Indians will call up left-hander Ryan Merritt (1-0, 1.76), who made his best regular season start to date in his last spot start for the club when he blanked Kansas City over six and two-thirds innings, allowing seven hits and a walk in earning his first win of the season. Merritt will be recalled to take the place of reliever Dan Otero, who will be placed on the paternity list. Right-hander Shawn Armstrong will make his seventh trip to the Indians roster as the team’s 26th man for the day.

The Yankees will counter with a left-hander of their own in Jordan Montgomery (7-6, 4.00). Montgomery is set to be added as the 26th man on the Yankees roster for the game from his current spot at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes/Barre. He had made just his second minor league appearance of the season on Friday and his first for the RailRiders after his most recent option to the club. He has been a solid contributor to the Yankees staff throughout the season, but was the odd man out after New York added two starting pitchers at the trade deadline. He faced the Indians on August 5 in Cleveland, taking a no-decision while allowing one run (on a solo home run) on three hits in total over five innings with seven strikeouts on just 65 pitches.

The Indians have a day off on Thursday before playing four in Detroit this weekend, beginning with their doubleheader on Friday.

Photo: Rich Schultz/Getty Images



Cleveland Indians hold steady at No. 4 overall in ESPN power rankings


The Cleveland Indians are hot right now and rightfully remain near the top in the latest edition of ESPN’s MLB power rankings. Some rain in New York means the Cleveland Indians are about to have two doubleheaders in three days. You won’t see me complaining about the baseball marathon. The Indians will head into Wednesday’s […]

Cleveland Indians hold steady at No. 4 overall in ESPN power rankingsBelieveland BallBelieveland Ball – A Cleveland Indians Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

Source: Wahoos on First


Kluber Backed by Four Blasts in Win Over Bronx Bombers; Indians 6, Yankees 2


There were plenty of bombs in the Bronx on Monday, but just one came courtesy of the Bronx Bombers as the Cleveland Indians supported Corey Kluber with four of their own in their defeat of the New York Yankees, 6-2.

The game was everything one could expect from a matchup of two of the top pitchers in the American League and teammates on the league’s All-Star squad back in July. The AL Central’s top club got out to an early lead with their ace on the mound, but would need a power surge in the late innings to ensure a win over the Wild Card leading Yankees.

Ramirez - Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Ramirez – Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The Indians jumped out to an early lead with two down in the first as one All-Star tagged another. After Luis Severino retired the first two Indians hitters of the inning, the AL’s starting third baseman Jose Ramirez homered to right. His 19th shot of the season gave Cleveland a 1-0 lead. He would not be done.

Kluber retired the first six Yankees in order, striking out a pair to end the first and Greg Bird to end the second. But leading off the bottom of the third, Chase Headley took the Tribe’s number one starter deep to right to tie the game at one.

The Indians had a chance to reclaim the lead in the fourth, but missed out on a scoring opportunity despite Severino losing the strike zone. Ramirez walked with one out and stole second, but one pitch later, he was erased at third base trying to advance on a ball that got away from catcher Gary Sanchez temporarily. Edwin Encarnacion and Jay Bruce would each draw walks, but Carlos Santana struck out swinging to leave the game tied.

Sanchez reached on a one-out error in the bottom of the inning, but would be stranded. The Yankees would not waste a base runner in their next trips to the plate, as a big two-out hit from a familiar foe gave New York its first lead. Jacoby Ellsbury doubled to left-center with two outs and came in to score on a single to left by former Cincinnati Red and Chicago White Sox third baseman Todd Frazier as the Yankees moved in front, 2-1. Frazier moved into scoring position on the throw, but would be left there as Kluber struck out Brett Gardner to end the inning.

Severino retired six straight after his walk of Bruce in the fourth and struck out the first two batters in the top of the sixth before the Indians got another big two-out blast. It was Ramirez again who delivered with a second deck shot to right, his 20th of the year, to tie the game at 2-2.

Kluber worked around a leadoff walk of Aaron Hicks in the bottom of the inning before his teammates came to the rescue with a big inning. Bruce grounded out to start the seventh before Santana made up for his missed chance earlier in the night with a solo homer of his own to right to put the Indians back in front, 3-2. Bradley Zimmer followed the shot with a sinking liner to center to keep the inning moving. Yan Gomes struck out swinging for the second out and Yankees skipper Joe Girardi called upon Adam Warren from his bullpen. Zimmer quickly picked off second base and moved up to third on the throw as it skipped just far enough away from second baseman Starlin Castro for him to advance. It would prove costly as a wild pitch from the Yankees reliever allowed Zimmer to score before Giovanny Urshela grounded out, putting the Tribe on top, 4-2.

Santana - Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Santana – Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The Indians starter retired the final nine he faced, but before working his last inning in the eighth, his offense gave him another insurance run. With one down in the top of the eighth, former Yankee Austin Jackson just cleared the wall in left with a solo homer off of Warren to make it a 5-2 game.

The Indians added one more in the ninth. Chasen Shreve relieved to start the inning and struck out Bruce swinging before walking Santana. Zimmer sent the next pitch deep to center for a double, scoring Santana all the way from first to extend the Indians’ lead to four runs. Cody Allen pitched the ninth in another non-save situation, retiring the side in order, including Castro swinging to end the ball game.

The Indians improved to 74-56 with the win to move 18 games above the .500 mark. They gained a half-game on the idle Minnesota Twins, extending their lead in the AL Central to a full seven games. The loss dropped the Yankees to 70-60 on the year and 37-24 at home this season. Coupled with a Boston win Monday, the Yankees dropped three and a half in back in the AL East race.

Kluber (13-4) matched teammates Carlos Carrasco and Trevor Bauer with his 13th win of the season. He worked eight innings of two-run baseball, allowing just three hits and a walk while striking out seven batters. He nudged his ERA down several points in the process to 2.63 to remain firmly entrenched in the AL Cy Young race.

Severino (11-6) took his sixth loss of the year and was dealt his first career defeat against the Tribe in four outings. He worked six and two-thirds innings, allowing four runs (three earned) on four hits. He walked three and struck out nine, but was hurt by the three home run balls off of the bats of Ramirez and Santana.

Ramirez reached base safely in three of his four trips to the plate on the night, hitting a pair of homers to reach the 20-homer mark for the first time in his career while becoming the fifth different Indians player with 20 or more this season (Bruce, Encarnacion, Francisco Lindor, and Santana). He also picked off his 14th base of the year in the second. Zimmer had a single and a double and was a menace on the bases, stealing his 17th base of the season in 18 tries.

The top two-thirds of the Yankees lineup did nothing against Kluber. They combined to go 0-for-22 with a walk and seven strikeouts. Headley, Ellsbury, and Frazier each had hits and factored in the scoring, with Headley hitting his solo homer while Ellsbury scored the other Yankee run on the RBI-single by Frazier.

Game two of the three-game set is scheduled for a 7:05 PM ET start from Yankee Stadium on Tuesday night. Bauer (13-8, 4.59 ERA) will take the mound for the Tribe, looking to extend his six-game winning streak. He defeated New York earlier this season, giving up just one run in seven innings of work. Left-hander Jaime Garcia (1-1, 5.47 with Minnesota and New York) will make his fifth start for the Yankees and the second of his career against the Indians. He made his Yankee debut against the Indians at the end of July and was hit hard, giving up six runs (five earned) in four and two-thirds innings with four walks and four strikeouts. He has yet to finish six innings on the mound while in pinstripes.

Photo: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images