Yankees 5, Indians 3
A night after Cleveland’s offense set records, El Duque limited the Indians to one run and three hits in seven innings and Posada hit a go-ahead, two-run homer that led the New York Yankees over the Indians 5-3 Wednesday.
“El Duque set the tone,” Derek Jeter said. “He did everything we needed him to do.”
When Travis Hafner hit an RBI single in the first inning, the Yankees left the bases loaded in the bottom half and Boston spurted to a four-run lead against Anaheim at Fenway Park, New York’s AL East lead over the Red Sox looked to be in danger of shrinking to 2 1/2 games, down from 10 1/2 on the morning of Aug. 16.
But the Yankees, sent to their most lopsided loss ever in a 22-0 rout Tuesday night, rallied when Posada homered off C.C. Sabathia (10-9) in the fourth. John Olerud added a solo homer later in the inning, and Miguel Cairo hit another in the seventh off David Riske for a 4-1 lead. Jeter had a hard-hit RBI single off the glove of third baseman Casey Blake in the eighth.
Boston beat Anaheim 12-7, leaving the Yankees’ lead at 3 1/2 games.
“Duque is back to where we remember him, where he was really our No. 1 starter back there in ’99. He loves the opportunity to stand tall,” Yankees manager Joe Torre said. “After last night, we certainly needed a pick-me-up, and he gave it to us.”
Yankees owner George Steinbrenner was on hand for the second straight night and tried to avoid questions.
“I don’t mean to be rude. Just savor the victory,” he said.
Fans were greeted by inspirational messages on Yankee Stadium sign boards and scoreboards, including: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” Steinbrenner released a statement before the game, part of which appeared on some of the boards.
“Sure, we got punished badly last night, but winners never quit and quitters never win,” he said. “New Yorkers never quit, and we reflect the spirit of New York.”
The players he pays certainly were aware of his presence.
“It was having the principal overlooking the classroom,” Alex Rodriguez said.
Hernandez (6-0), who missed last season because of a shoulder injury, has become the Yankees’ ace at age 38, just the second New York starter to win in 17 games since Aug. 13.
“He loves pitching in this situation,” Posada said. “He keeps coming and coming.”
Pitching against the team he blanked for seven innings in the key fourth game of the 1998 AL championship series, he struck out seven and didn’t allow a runner past second base after the first inning.
“It seems like the bigger the situation, the bigger the forum, the more comfortable he feels,” Rodriguez said. “You can see him, and he’s so animated. It’s fun to watch.”
Hernandez stopped watching Tuesday’s game when it was 15-0 and said he didn’t know the final score.
“I tried not to look at the scoreboard last night because I didn’t want to get scared,” he said through a translator.
After Hafner’s single in the first put Cleveland ahead and left runners at the corners, Hernandez got Blake to pop up, starting a stretch in which he retired 11 of 12 batters. New York improved to 9-1 in El Duque’s starts this season.
“He’s tough because he has two or three speeds on most of his pitches, and a lot of different arm angles,” Blake said.
Hernandez had a humorous time in the third when he picked up Coco Crisp’s grounder and stood by the first-base line with the ball as Crisp tried to retreat. Hernandez held his hands out, as if to say “What are you going to do next?” before tagging out Crisp and folding his arms.
“There’s only one way to first base,” Hernandez said in English.
“He tried to deke me twice. I wasn’t going to move,” he said, returning to Spanish. “He was a gentleman. He gave up.”
Tom Gordon allowed a walk, bloop single, run-scoring wild pitch and an RBI bloop double to Victor Martinez in the eighth as Cleveland closed to 4-3, then left the field to boos. Mariano Rivera retired Hafner on an inning-ending grounder and finished for his major league-leading 46th save in 49 chances.
Sabathia, 1-6 against New York in his career, allowed three runs and five hits in six innings as Cleveland dropped eight games behind AL Central-leading Minnesota. He was expecting a tough night from the Yankees.
“They came out much more focused,” he said.
Yankees 1B Jason Giambi took batting practice for the fourth straight day as he tries to get back in shape following his illness-filled season. … A night after tying the AL record for a nine-inning game with six hits, Omar Vizquel went 0-for-2 with two walks. … The Indians’ shutout streak ended at 24 innings.