CLEVELAND (AP)—George Steinbrenner’s 76th birthday was a big bash all right.
Victor Martinez went 5-for-6 and Jhonny Peralta and Travis Hafner each hit two of Cleveland’s six home runs, powering the Indians to a 19-1 rout of New York on Tuesday night to spoil the Yankee owner’s Fourth of July birthday.
Cleveland’s lopsided win was its largest at home since a 21-2 victory over the Philadelphia Athletics on June 18, 1950.
“1950?” asked Indians starter Jake Westbrook. “That’s amazing.”
Martinez and Peralta connected for two-run homers in the first inning off Shawn Chacon (4-3) for the suddenly streaking Indians, who scored nine times in the fifth inning and have won four straight for the first time since May 16-19.
Cleveland’s holiday display of firepower backed Westbrook (7-4), who didn’t allow an earned run in seven solid innings. The right-hander gave up five hits, walked three, struck out three and got 14 of 21 outs on grounders.
Ronnie Belliard homered and had four RBIs and All-Star Grady Sizemore had three of Cleveland’s season-high 21 hits. The Indians’ 19 runs were their most since a 22-0 blowout at Yankee Stadium on Aug. 31, 2004—a game Westbrook also started.
That 22-0 rout was the most biggest loss in the Yankees’ proud pinstriped history, and this one is not likely to sit well with “The Boss,” who hates to lose any time and especially to his hometown Indians.
“It was helpless to sit there and watch,” said Yankees manager Joe Torre, who hinted that some roster changes are likely before the All-Star break. “We scored only one run. We have to be better than this to stay in the race.”
Hafner hit a three-run homer, his 23rd, in the second and added a solo shot in the sixth. Belliard and Peralta hit consecutive homers in Cleveland’s huge fifth when the Indians matched a season high by scoring nine times to open a 16-1 lead and thrill a holiday home crowd.
The fifth inning had it all, including an unexpected downpour that had some fans running for cover while others on the opposite side of Jacobs Field were bathed in summer sunshine.
The Indians, who have won six of eight and are 4-0 in July, had two homers, three doubles, four singles and sent 14 batters to the plate in the fifth-inning outburst against relievers T.J. Beam and Mike Myers.
New York, which has lost five of nine, hadn’t given up so many runs on the road since Texas scored 20 on July 18, 1987.
“It wasn’t fun out there,” Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez said. “When it’s that ugly, you just have to turn the page, take it as a spring training game. It’s important over the next five games to empty the tank and give all we’ve got.”
The shots by Peralta and Martinez set the tone in the first and rattled Chacon, who hadn’t pitched since June 25 and whose inactivity had Torre a little concerned about his location.
Chacon put a meaty pitch over the plate to Peralta, who followed a leadoff double by Sizemore and a sacrifice with his eighth homer to make it 2-0. Chacon pitched around Hafner, but Martinez made him pay by hitting his 11th homer, a towering shot to right.
Chacon walked Sizemore to open the second, and one out later, Peralta reached on four balls, earning the right-hander a visit from pitching coach Ron Guidry. Hafner, one of five players involved in an online vote to determine the final roster for the AL All-Star team, followed with his homer to put Cleveland ahead 7-1.
Martinez’s double chased Chacon, who was charged with seven runs and six hits in 1 1-3 innings. He hasn’t pitched more than five innings and spent more than three weeks on the disabled list (bruised left leg) since his last win on May 6.
“I didn’t have anything, I was garbage,” Chacon said. “When I tried to put a guy away, the pitch was up in the zone.”
Westbrook picked up his first win in four starts since June 11. New York scored its only unearned run in the first off the right-hander, who played for the Yankees and understands Steinbrenner’s passion to win.
“I’m sure he didn’t take it very well, any day,” Westbrook said. “But just like them, we have to turn the page.”
Cleveland’s six homers traveled an estimated 2,332 feet. … During the game, Hall of Famer Bob Feller, who will mark the 70th anniversary of his big league debut on July 19, sent a handwritten note to Indians rookie Jeremy Sowers. Feller wanted to congratulate the left-hander, who got his first career win by beating the Yankees in the series opener. … Myers, who had allowed one run in 32 previous outings, gave up three in 1-3 of an inning. His ERA went from 0.56 to 1.65. … Yankees OF Bernie Williams got a night off to rest. “Bernie looked like he was dragging a bit (Monday), so we’ll give him a break,” Torre said. … Tale of two cities: While the Indians proudly pointed out they went over 1 million in attendance, the Yankees have already sold more than 4 million tickets for ’06. … Westbrook is 3-1 with a 2.22 ERA in seven starts since May 31.