CLEVELAND (AP) Aaron Hicks drove home Didi Gregorius from first base with a one-out double in the eighth inning off Cleveland ace Corey Kluber, sending the New York Yankees to a 7-4 win over the Indians on Thursday night.
Hicks drove a 3-2 pitch from Kluber (12-5) to deep center field, and Gregorius scored easily when the ball one-hopped the wall. Indians manager Terry Francona elected to stay with Kluber in the eighth rather than turn things over to his shaky bullpen, which has the AL’s highest ERA.
The Yankees added another run in the inning on Greg Bird’s sacrifice fly off Oliver Perez.
Brett Gardner homered twice and Gregorius also connected for the Yankees, playing at Progressive Field for the first time since last October, when they overcame a 2-0 deficit and won the AL Division Series.
New York’s Adam Warren, David Robertson (6-3), Dellin Betances and All-Star closer Aroldis Chapman combined for four hitless innings. Chapman got three outs for his 25th save – in his first appearance since Sunday because of a sore left knee.
Jose Ramirez and Edwin Encarnacion homered off Yankees starter Luis Severino, who lasted five innings and was denied his major league-leading 15th win.
The marquee matchup between Kluber and Severino – two of baseball’s top pitchers – had everyone excited.
”This is one of those games where if I wasn’t a manager, I’d come watch the game,” Francona quipped beforehand.
But neither Kluber nor Severino brought their `A’ games. The All-Stars each gave up two homers, both were hit harder than expected and they were forced to pitch out of trouble throughout their stints.
Severino allowed four runs and nine hits in five innings and recorded just one strikeout, a season low and his fewest since 2016.
Kluber, who lost the decisive Game 5 to the Yankees last October while battling a stiff lower back, was at 100 pitches to start the eighth, but Francona stuck with him anyway. He walked Gregorius on four pitches to start the inning, and then gave up the double to Hicks, who was just 3 for 25 in his career against the right-hander.
Ramirez connected for his fourth homer in three games to tie it 4-all in the fifth. The 25-year-old lined a 1-0 pitch over the wall in right for his 28th homer, breaking Albert Belle’s club record for the most before the All-Star break.
Gregorius, who homered twice off Kluber in Game 5 of the Division Series, connected in the third to tie it 3-3. He belted a 1-1 pitch 430 feet for his 16th homer, and the Yankees took the lead on Bird’s RBI double.
Encarnacion connected for his 21st homer in the first to give the Indians a quick 2-0 lead against Severino, who came having allowed just eight homers in 123 1/3 innings this season.
Yankees: C Gary Sanchez (strained right groin) could begin a minor league rehab assignment Sunday. Sanchez, who has been out since June 25, has been doing hitting, catching and agility drills.
Indians: LHP Andrew Miller will pitch batting practice to hitters Saturday at Double-A Akron, the next step in his comeback from knee inflammation that has sidelined the elite reliever since May 26. Miller said he expects to pitch in a ”handful of minor league games” before he’s activated. ”When you’ve missed as many games as I have, you really don’t have a choice,” he said. ”It’s just a necessary evil I guess, and in reality I’m excited to go pitch.”
A pair of rookies square off as Cleveland’s Shane Bieber (4-1) gets his first career start against the Yankees – or any AL East team – on Friday versus New York’s Domingo German (2-4), who had a season-high 10 strikeouts on June 14 against Tampa Bay.
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