CLEVELAND -- Austin Romine’s drive to the gap in right-center field to start the seventh inning Saturday night at Progressive Field touched off a comedy of errors.
Only, there was nothing funny about it for the Indians.
Cleveland committed two fielding blunders on the play, turning Romine’s double into a Little League home run that lifted the Yankees to a 5-4 victory in front of a sellout crowd of 35,353 fans.
The Indians had just tied the game 4-4 on Brandon Guyer’s infield single off Yanks starter CC Sabathia in the sixth inning when Romine sent Mike Clevinger’s first pitch of the seventh between center fielder Rajai Davis and Guyer in right.
Guyer got to the ball first but mishandled it as Romine headed to third base. Guyer threw to relay man, second baseman Erik Gonzalez, who made an errant throw to third baseman Jose Ramirez and the ball skipped by Clevinger backing up and into Cleveland’s dugout.
Everything that could go wrong did as Romine trotted in with the go-ahead run.
“Yeah, that’s a good way to put it,” manager Terry Francona said. “Guyer reached for it with his glove instead of either picking it up or corralling it with two hands, so that gave him a chance to go to third. And then the throw was on the side of the base where Romine was sliding and Jose looked like he did everything he could to get to it and then it hits the (dugout) fence and spins. It would have been nice to just try to keep it to a double and take our chances.”
Both Clevinger and the Indians started slowly.
Clevinger allowed the first two Yankees to reach base and put the Indians in a hole three batters into the game when Didi Gregorius launched a three-run homer to right-center.
Clevinger settled in after that, holding New York scoreless over the next four innings on three hits before surrendering another homer in the sixth to Greg Bird that put the Yankees in front 4-2.
“He might have been a little over-amped, I don’t know,” Francona said. “But once he settle in he was really good. He gave up that late home run that really hurt. They’ve got a lot of good hitters. They keep coming at you. They give you know deep breath anywhere. If you do, you’re gonna get nicked up.”
“That’s kind of what I have been working on. Stuff’s gonna hit the fan every once in a while and it’s just how you respond,” Clevinger said. “Early in the year I kind of responded poorly and it resulted in more runs crossing the board later. Just remind myself I can lock it back in. It was one swing of the bat (from Gregorius). You can’t let the ballgame slip away because of really one bad pitch.”
The Indians managed only two hits over the first five innings, but were able to score twice off Sabathia.
Ramirez connected on a solo homer in the opening inning and the Indians, who collected only four hits on the night, manufactured another in the third after Erik Gonzalez led off with a single.
Prized prospect Francisco Mejia was called up from Triple-A Columbus prior to the game, making his first appearance of the season for the Indians. He went 0-for-2 and walked twice, lining out to right and having a hit stolen from him on a sharp grounder up the middle.
The Indians drew their second straight sellout crowd and fifth of the season, surpassing Friday night for the largest of the year.
Cleveland fans in the contingent got a special reason to cheer in the ninth inning when catcher Yan Gomes came to the plate and it was announced on the scoreboard that he had been selected as a reserve to the All-Star Game.
His teammates cheered him on from the dugout before Gomes struck out against Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman with a runner on first and one out.
“That was kind of a weird at-bat,” Gomes said. “It was like the happiest strikeout. I had the weirdest feeling walking back. I don’t think I’ve ever been that emotional in an at-bat before. I’m not going to lie, it was kind of hard to get back in the box. I tried to focus in there, but it didn’t quite work out.”
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