Just like the first game of their traditional doubleheader at Yankee Stadium, the Cleveland Indians started fast offensively, pitched well throughout and limited the effectiveness of a powerful New York Yankees offense at Yankee Stadium.
On the strength of an early four-run advantage, the Indians (76-56) earned a 9-4 victory over the Yankees (70-62), which completed both the doubleheader and three-game series sweep in The Bronx, New York on Wednesday.
It was the Indians’ first three-game sweep of the Yankees in New York since 1989.
With the win, the Indians maintained a seven-game lead over the Minnesota Twins (69-63) and an 11-game advantage over the Kansas City Royals (65-67) in the American League Central Division standings.
Down in the count, 0-2, shortstop Francisco Lindor got the Indians going in the top of the first inning in Game 2 with a single to center field and moved into scoring position when outfielder Austin Jackson drew a walk on just five pitches from Yankees starter Jordan Montgomery.
After infielder Jose Ramirez struck out swinging, first baseman Edwin Encarnacion smacked an RBI single into center field, which brought around Lindor. Right fielder Carlos Santana followed with a double down the line in left field and Jackson scored on the two-base hit. Then, designated hitter Yandy Diaz drove in a pair of runs with a single to left field that pushed both Encarnacion and Santana across the plate.
The Yankees got a run back in the bottom of the second inning when first baseman Greg Bird lifted a single to shallow right-center field and drove in right fielder Aaron Judge, who led off the inning with an infield single to shortstop. However, Indians starter Ryan Merritt got back-to-back groundouts to end the inning.
In the top of the fifth inning, the Yankees relieved Montgomery in favor of Chasen Shreve, but Encarnacion gave him a rude welcome to the game. Down in the count, 1-2, Encarnacion smashed an offering from Shreve into the seats for his team-leading 31st home run and 78th run batted in of the season.
The Indians added a sixth run in the top of the sixth inning when Jackson doubled to the wall in center field and drove in infielder Erik Gonzalez, who reached base with a lead-off double to the wall in left field.
Diaz drew a one-out walk in the top of the seventh inning and came around to score when two batters later, catcher Yan Gomes smoked an opposite-field home run just inside the foul pole in right field.
Lindor added the Indians’ ninth run of the game when he belted his 25th home run of the season to left field. The home run matched the Indians’ club record for home runs by a shortstop, which was set by Asdrubal Cabrera in the 2011 season.
The Yankees got three runs on Bird’s home run in the bottom of the ninth inning off of Indians reliever Zach McAllister, but the output proved to be too little, too late.
While the Indians had the bats rolling early and often, they got plenty of support from Merritt over five-plus innings of work against the second-best offense in Major League Baseball.
Merritt scattered five hits, two walks and one earned run over 5.1 innings on the way to his second win of the season.
Of the Indians’ 19 August wins, the starting rotation earned 18 of the decisions.