Cleve­land sweeps strug­gling Yankees

New York en­ters se­ries with Bos­ton on bad note

The Register Citizen (Torrington, CT) - - FRONT PAGE - By Ron­ald Blum

NEW YORK » Cleve­land went ahead for good nine pitches into the opener when a fast­ball just be­low the knees de­flected off the mitt of catcher Gary Sanchez for a run­scor­ing passed ball.

Six­teen pitches into the sec­ond game, the Indians burst in front to stay when Ed­win En­car­na­cion sin­gled off Yankees rookie Jor­dan Mont­gomery.

A dou­ble­header sweep Wed­nes­day by scores of 2-1 and 9-4 dropped New York 5½ games be­hind AL East-lead­ing Bos­ton head­ing into a four-game se­ries against the Red Sox at Yan­kee Sta­dium start­ing Thurs­day night. While the Baby Bombers lead the wild-card race, eight teams still have re­al­is­tic chances to make the one-game play­off, and 24 of New York’s re­main­ing 30 games are against those con­tenders.

“It’s im­pos­si­ble not to look at the score­board. It’s right there,” Yankees man­ager Joe Gi­rardi said. “I’d have to re­ally have my head in the sand not to see the scores of games.”

Trevor Bauer won his ca­reerbest sev­enth straight de­ci­sion, Jose Ramirez tied his big league high with four hits and the Indians took ad­van­tage of an un­earned run to grab a 2-0 first-in­ning lead in the opener.

Car­los San­tana fol­lowed En­car-

na­cion with an RBI dou­ble and Yandy Diaz hit a tworun sin­gle as the Indians sent 10 bat­ters to the plate in a 43-pitch first in­ning against Mont­gomery in the sec­ond game.

En­car­na­cion, Yan Gomes and Fran­cisco Lin­dor added home runs for Cleve­land, which took a 9-1 lead, com­pleted a three-game se­ries sweep and ex­tended its win­ning streak to seven games.

De­fend­ing AL cham­pion Cleve­land has won 16 of 20, open­ing a 7½-game lead over sec­ond-place Min­nesota in the AL Cen­tral and mov­ing a season-high 20 games over .500 at 76-56. After a day off, the Indians play another dou­ble­header Fri­day at Detroit. Cleve­land has swept a pair of twin­bills this year and split two oth­ers.

“Any time we’ve had dou­ble­head­ers, we haven’t looked fa­tigued at all,” out­fielder Austin Jack­son said. “We don’t worry about all the dis­trac­tions or dou­ble­head­ers.”

New York’s divi­sion deficit matched its big­gest this season. At the start of the se­ries, the Yankees trailed Bos­ton by 2½ games.

“It’s as frus­trat­ing as it gets,” out­fielder Brett Gard­ner said. “Cal­en­dar’s go­ing to flip to a new month here pretty soon, and we’re run­ning out of time to catch those guys.”

Bauer (14-8) al­lowed one run, four hits and four walks over six in­nings on an af­ter­noon that be­gan with a crowd of 39,568 watch­ing in bril­liant sun­shine and ended with only a few hun­dred fans stay­ing for the fi­nal out. Bauer is 7-0 in nine starts since a July 16 loss at Oak­land.

“It was a strug­gle,” he said. “Day games are al­ways kind of weird.”

Cody Allen struck out three of four bat­ters for his 22nd save in 25 chances, com­bin­ing with Tyler Ol­son and Bryan Shaw for one­hit re­lief. Slump­ing rookie Aaron Judge, held out of the start­ing lineup for a sec­ond con­sec­u­tive game, pinch hit with two outs in the ninth and struck out. He was 1 for 3 with a walk in the sec­ond game.

Jaime Gar­cia (1-2) gave up two runs, six hits and three walks in five-plus in­nings.

Sanchez’s 13th passed ball, sec­ond-most in the ma­jors, caused an un­earned run. Lin­dor sin­gled lead­ing off, stole sec­ond, went to third on Ramirez’s sin­gle and came home on the passed ball, which also al­lowed Ramirez to ad­vance.

“I dropped it,” Sanchez said through a trans­la­tor. “Some­thing I need to for­get about and fo­cus on the games that are com­ing up.”

Diaz fol­lowed with another run-scor­ing sin­gle. Didi Gre­go­rius had an RBI dou­ble in the third for the Yankees.

Both starters were brought up from the mi­nors for the sec­ond game, and Ryan Mer­ritt (2-0) be­gan 16 of 22 bat­ters with strikes, al­low­ing one run and five hits in 5 1/3 in­nings for Cleve­land.

BILL KOSTROUN / THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

New York Yankees pinch hit­ter Aaron Judge re­acts after strik­ing out dur­ing the ninth in­ning in the first game against the Cleve­land Indians Wed­nes­day at Yan­kee Sta­dium. The Yankees were swept by the Indians.

BILL KOSTROUN / THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Yankees man­ager Joe Gi­rardi watches from the dugout dur­ing the ninth in­ning in the sec­ond game of the team’s dou­ble­header against the Indians.

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