CLEVELAND (AP)—They didn’t become the New York Yankees because of epic, embarrassing losses.
So one day after suffering one of the most lopsided defeats in their famed existence, the Yankees returned to their winning ways.
Rookie Melky Cabrera’s first career grand slam highlighted an eight-run fourth inning, helping New York bounce back from an historic loss with an easy win, 11-3 over the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday night.
On the Fourth of July, which also happens to be Yankees owner George Steinbrenner’s birthday, New York was pummeled 19-1 by Cleveland, matching the second-worst defeat in the club’s unmatched history.
On Wednesday, the Yankees looked much more like themselves.
“It’s a nice way to come back after what happened to us,” starter Mike Mussina said.
Along with matching their highest-scoring inning this season off Paul Byrd (6-6), the Yankees stole six bases and Mussina (10-3) showed no ill effects from a slight groin pull.
Mussina allowed three runs and five hits in six sharp innings. According to Elias Sports Bureau, the right-hander is the only pitcher in AL history to win at least 10 games in 15 consecutive seasons.
“It’s a nice accomplishment,” Mussina said. “I was a little surprised I was the first one to do it. Hopefully, I can keep it going and come back and do it again.”
However, New York’s win may have come with a price as center fielder Johnny Damon left in the third inning with a slight muscle pull in his stomach. The Yankees were being overly cautious, but with two star outfielders—Gary Sheffield and Hideki Matsui—as well as second baseman Robinson Cano already on the DL, they aren’t taking any chances with Damon.
New York’s leadoff hitter first felt a pain during pregame batting practice, and then while taking a swing in the on-deck circle before his first at-bat.
“It’s sore,” said Damon, who expects to sit out Thursday’s series finale. “I’m a quick healer so I think it will be OK.”
Damon pulled up his shirt to show the area on his stomach where he’s hurt.
“At first I thought it could be a small, little hernia,” he said. “I’ll try to be back as soon as I can.”
Cleveland third baseman Aaron Boone had three errors, including two in the fourth to help the Yankees.
“I probably won’t fall right to sleep tonight,” Boone said. “You always hear if you play long enough you’re going to have a day like that. I had that day. It’s not a lot of fun.”
Jorge Posada hit a one-out single and went to third on Bernie Williams’ double. Andy Phillips hit a routine grounder to Boone, who fumbled it away and was late with a throw to first, loading the bases.
“Jorge threw me off. We were conceding the run, but when he didn’t go, I got aggressive on the ball instead of playing it like I normally do,” Boone said. “It’s a play I need to make and it put Paul in a tough spot.”
Cabrera, who went homerless in 130 at-bats to start his career before connecting against Cleveland on June 15, followed by hitting a 1-0 pitch over the wall in right to make it 5-1.
Jeter and Rodriguez then pulled off a double steal before scoring on Posada’s two-run double, giving New York a 9-1 lead and chasing Byrd.
The right-hander allowed nine runs—four earned—and 10 hits in 3 2-3 innings, his shortest outing since lasting only three innings on April 22 at Kansas City.
“No team can play error-free ball,” Byrd said. “Everything is not going to go your way. The bottom line is we have to pick each other up. I didn’t make pitches when I needed to.”
Broussard’s two-run homer, his 11th, brought the Indians within 9-3 in the fourth off Mussina.
Jeter is batting .400 (18-for-45) during a 10-game hitting streak. … Torre visited the Rock and Roll of Fame on Wednesday, accompanied by first baseman Andy Phillips. Torre had been there before, when the Yankees played the Indians in the AL playoffs. He singled out exhibits for The Doors and singer Roy Orbison. He also was impressed with the museum’s collection of Bobby Darin memorabilia, and he spent a few dollars in the museum’s expansive and expensive gift shop. “I’d like to go back just so I can go to the store, but I would have to be careful,” he said. … The 12 extra-base hits allowed by the Yankees in Tuesday’s 19-1 win were the most the team has given up in a game since 1961. … The Indians, now 3-3 this season with New York, haven’t won a series outright from the Yankees since 1992.