NEW YORK – Little hits turn into big wins for the Cleveland Guardians.
José Ramírez hustled to reach third base leading off the 10th inning with a popup that dropped in left field, 200 feet from home plate. Oscar Gonzalez drove him in with the tiebreaking run on an even shorter opposite-field flare to right, then scored on Josh Naylor's double, the only hard-hit ball of the inning.
“It’s not an easy way to win but it doesn’t mean you can’t,” Guardians manager Terry Francona said after Cleveland overcame a two-run deficit to beat the New York Yankees 4-2 Friday. The victory evened the best-of-five AL Division Series at one game apiece.
Winner Emmanuel Clase pitched 2 1/3 innings, his most in the major leagues, and combined with Trevor Stephan and James Karinchak for 4 1/3 innings of one-hit relief. Cleveland, 29th among the 30 big league teams in home runs, stopped a six-game postseason losing streak to the Yankees,
“We just try find a way on base,” Naylor said. “If it’s a bloop hit, it’s a bloop hit. If it’s a hard-hit single, double, whatever the case it, we just try to hustle, try to make things happen on the field, try to put pressure on the defense."
Game 3 will be at Cleveland on Saturday night. There is no travel day because a rainout Thursday had pushed Game 2 back a day.
“Good starting rotation, a great bullpen. They got nasty stuff down there," Yankees slugger Aaron Judge said.
Judge went 0 for 5 with four strikeouts and dropped to 0 for 8 with seven strikeouts and a walk in the series. He is 2 for 37 with 27 strikeouts against Cleveland in three playoff series, including all four of his four-strikeout postseason games.
“Just a little late," Judge said. “When you’re a little late, you’re missing pitches that you usually doing some damage on. You’re swinging at stuff that you usually don’t.”
Fresh off setting the AL home run record with 62, he was booed by some fans in the sellout crowd of 47,355 after whiffing against Stephan in the seventh.
“It’s the Bronx, man,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “Great hitters go 0-for on a given day.”
First pitch was at 1:08 p.m. in the first early afternoon postseason start in the Bronx since Game 2 of the 2006 Division Series against Detroit. Shadows crept across the field from the first-base side in the middle innings on a cloudless afternoon, reminiscent of so many World Series games at old Yankee Stadium in the 1940s and ’50s.
Giancarlo Stanton hit a two-run, opposite-field homer to right in the first off 2020 AL Cy Young Award winner Shane Bieber, Stanton's 10th homer in 20 postseason games.
Cleveland tied the score against All-Star Nestor Cortes when Andrés Giménez had an RBI single in the fourth and Amed Rosario homered into the Yankees bullpen in the fifth.
Cortes saved two runs in the fourth with an acrobatic leap and throw to first from a sitting position on Myles Straw’s two-out, one-hop smash. Falling off the third-base side of the mound, Cortes extended his glove hand to snag the ball as he hit the mound with his head toward first. He leaned back and made a one-hop throw to first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who scooped the ball for the out.
'I’m supposed to make that play 100% of the time. Just a little bit more dramatic effect into it," Cortes said. "The bounce pass was probably the best idea because if I were to get up and go, I would probably would have been late.”
Lou Trivino, Jonathan Loáisiga, Wandy Peralta and Clay Holmes followed Cortes and combined for four hitless innings.
Jameson Taillon made his first big league relief appearance after 143 starts, and Ramírez sliced a fastball that rookie left fielder Oswaldo Cabrera missed by inches as third baseman Josh Donaldson, his back to the plate, pulled up to avoid a collision. Donaldson fired the ball past second for an error as Ramírez hustled all the way and slid into third headfirst.
Gonzalez, whose 15th-inning homer Saturday completed a first-round sweep of Tampa Bay in the wild-card round, fought off an outside curve, and hit a ball at 59 mph that went 164 feet and dropped midway between Judge in right and second baseman Gleyber Torres. Naylor added an RBI double that bounced on a hop off the wall in right-center.
Clase threw 33 pitches, 10 more than his regular-season high. He entered after Karinchak walked the bases loaded in the eighth, then retired Kyle Higashioka on an inning-ending lineout to Ramírez at third.
“It was preparing mentally and remembering when I was a starter in the minor leagues and try to do the same thing,” Clase said through a translator.
New York had just six hits and went 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position in a tense, 4-hour, 10-minute marathon.
“I think my blood pressure is already kind of bad, so that’s OK,” the 63-year-old Francona said. “I get it taken care of well before the game.”
Bieber gave up two runs and five hits in 5 2/3 innings. Cortes allowed two runs, six hits and three walks in five innings.
New York’s Matt Carpenter returned from a broken left foot that had sidelined him since Aug. 8. He pinch hit against Stephan with two on and two outs in the sixth, and he struck out.
Yankees: OF Andrew Benintendi (right wrist surgery), RHP Frankie Montas (right shoulder inflammation) and RHP Ron Marinaccio (right shin) are headed to the Yankees’ complex in Tampa, Florida, to work out in hopes of returning in later rounds.
RHP Luis Severino (7-3, 3.18) makes his first postseason start for the Yankees since 2019 and RHP Triston McKenzie (11-11, 2.96) will be on the mound for the Guardians after pitching six scoreless innings in Game 2 against Tampa Bay. Severino pitched seven no-hit innings at Texas in his last regular-season start.
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