CLEVELAND – What was billed as the ultimate pitchers dual ended up being a battle of bullpen decision making ultimately won by Aaron Boone and the Yankees.
Knowing that his bullpen is his team’s weakest point, Cleveland manager Terry Francona pushes his ace Corey Kluber to throw 114 pitches, while Boone had Luis Severino removed after just 94. The pivotal moment of the game was a clutch double by Aaron Hicks that gave the Yankees a lead they would never relinquish in the eighth inning.
Didi Gregorius led off the inning with a walk, and was in motion on a 3-2 count when Hicks smoked the ball over the head of Cleveland center fielder Greg Allen. Kluber was lifted, and ex-Yankee Óliver Pérez came into face Greg Bird. Hicks barely, and I mean BARELY, stole third and then scored on a sacrifice fly hit by Bird.
Cleveland greeted Severino rudely in the first inning. Francisco Lindor singled, moved to second on a groundout and then scored on a José Ramírez RBI single. Ramírez was then throw out trying to steal second base, but more trouble followed. Edwin Encarnación smacked his 21st homer of the year.
A two-run homer for Brett Gardner tied the game at two in the third, but Cleveland rallied to get another run on a Yonder Alonso single. That lead held for another half inning, when Gregorius yet another home run off Kluber. Bird doubled to score Hicks later in the inning. Gardy homered again in the top of the ninth to ice the game, giving the Yankees a decisive 7-to-4 advantage.
Domingo Germán faces off against Shane Bieber.