CLEVELAND (AP)—Thrown into the middle of a heated playoff chase, the 21-year-olds pitched like they belonged.
The New York Yankees might not be aging so fast after all.
Phil Hughes dominated Cleveland for six innings and reliever Joba Chamberlain overwhelmed hitters with a searing fastball as the Yankees began a challenging stretch with a 6-1 win over the Indians on Friday night.
In just his fourth major league start, Hughes (2-1) allowed one run and four hits. It was the right-hander’s second start since spending three months on the disabled list with a hamstring injury.
He was followed by Chamberlain, a rocket-throwing righty who began the season at Class A but has sped through New York’s minor league system and is now being counted on by the Yankees for the stretch run.
Chamberlain struck out four in two perfect innings, giving him six Ks in four scoreless innings since being called up Tuesday.
“It doesn’t seem like they are fazed by too much,” Yankees captain Derek Jeter said, “and rightfully so, they’ve got great stuff. Joba throws a 100 mph off-speed pitch. That can’t be too much fun.”
Before coming to Central-leading Cleveland, New York had played 28 straight games against teams that had losing records at the All-Star break. The Yankees improved to 21-8 since July 12, and moved one percentage point behind Seattle for the wild-card lead.
Jeter had three hits and Bobby Abreu drove in a pair of runs for New York. The Yankees were managed by bench coach Don Mattingly, who filled in while Joe Torre served a one-game suspension.
Hughes and Chamberlain have made a quick impression on their teammates, who have marveled at the pair’s confidence.
“It’s exciting to see two young guys come up and throw strikes,” Andy Pettitte said. “You like their stuff, but you like their make up, too. We’re going to need them now more than ever.”
Josh Barfield homered for the Indians, whose players all wore uniform No. 14, a tribute to late Hall of Famer Larry Doby, the first black player in the AL.
However, the special occasion was soured by another win by the Yankees, 4-0 against Cleveland this season.
Still, the Indians maintained their 1 1/2 -game lead in the division over second-place Detroit, which lost 16-10 to Oakland. Cleveland has scored two runs or less in 10 of its past 18 games.
“I felt like we were showing signs of coming out of it, but today was probably a step back,” manager Eric Wedge said. “We’ve got multiple guys just off their game offensively right now. Not to take anything away from Hughes, but I still believe it is about us. We have to do a better job.”
Carmona dressed in the shower area, angrily slammed his towel into a bin on the way to his locker, gathered his belongings and left without talking to reporters.
“I thought he threw the ball well,” Wedge said. “They pushed over a couple runs and they’re a great hitting team. But he got some big double plays and I was pleased with the way he handled himself, especially without us doing much offensively.”
Rodriguez was back in the Yankees’ lineup after sitting out one game with a bruised right calf, a souvenir from a fastball by Toronto’s Josh Towers during an intense series with the Blue Jays.
Rodriguez crushed Carmona’s second pitch of the second, hitting a towering shot over the wall. After two singles and a sacrifice, catcher Jose Molina, filling in for Jorge Posada (sore neck), hit an RBI groundout.
The Yankees went up 3-0 in the third. Johnny Damon blooped a single off shortstop Jhonny Peralta’s glove and Jeter followed with a hard grounder that Peralta barely slowed with a dive. Abreu’s fielder’s choice grounder scored Damon.
Jeter’s RBI single in the fifth gave Hughes a 4-0 lead, and the right-hander carried a two-hitter into the bottom half before Barfield connected for his third homer—and first since May 25.
When Rodriguez homers, it usually means the Yankees win as 17 of his last 18 homers have come in New York victories. … Indians DH Travis Hafner sat out because of an injured right knee he hurt sliding into second base in Chicago on Tuesday. He will likely miss the series. … Cavaliers superstar LeBron James, a renowned Yankees fan, attended the game and sat in the stands directly behind home plate. Perched high above him was Torre, who was banished from the dugout and clubhouse and watched from a radio broadcast booth.