CLEVELAND: After six scoreless innings by the Indians bullpen Wednesday night, the Yankees finally got to the pen when Jacoby Ellsbury deposited Vinnie Pestano’s two-out pitch into the right field stands to end a stalemate and hand the visitors a 5-4 lead in the 14th inning.
Ellsbury’s homer stood after Yankees closer David Robertson notched his 22nd save by retiring leadoff man Chris Dickerson on a fly ball to center field, then sidestepping a Jason Kipnis single through the right side of the infield and ensuing stolen base by striking out Asdrubal Cabrera and inducing Michael Brantley to fly out to left field.
Ellsbury’s homer snapped the Tribe pen’s 18-inning scoreless streak and came after relievers Scott Atchison, Bryan Shaw, Cody Allen, John Axford and Marc Rzepczynski blanked the Yankees for six innings.
The Indians’ best chance to win came in the 10th inning with one out when Yankees manager Joe Girardi brought on left-hander David Huff to face left-handed hitting Brantley. But Brantley — as well as Carlos Santana and Lonnie Chisenhall — each worked a full-count walk against the Indians’ former No. 1 pick to load the bases. New reliever Shawn Kelley struck out Nick Swisher and got David Murphy to ground out to get out of the jam.
Indians right-hander Cody Allen had to work out of a similar jam in the top of the inning. Derek Jeter worked a walk and Brian McCann singled to lead off the inning. Allen got the dangerous Mark Teixeira to fly out to shallow center field for the first out. The Tribe appeared to have ended the threat with a double-play ball off the bat of Brian Roberts with Allen covering first for the third out.
The Yankees challenged the call and after a delay, it was overturned as replays indicated Allen’s foot might have been off the bag. That left runners at the corners with two outs and Ichiro Suzuki at the plate. But the veteran outfielder was fooled by an Allen curveball and was called out on an attempted checked swing.
At the start of the game, the Indians jumped on starting pitcher Brandon McCarthy right away, putting up three runs against him in the first inning. The trio of runs was highlighted by Nick Swisher’s two-out, two-run single that was aided by a throwing error by Yankee first baseman Teixeira.
The Tribe threatened again with two on and two outs in the second, but Brantley struck out looking on a McCarthy fastball, snapping a streak of 60 consecutive plate appearances without a strikeout.
Teixiera began to make up for his early error when he led off the fourth inning with his 16th home run of the season, a 369-foot shot that landed within in the first couple rows of the right field bleachers to trim the Tribe’s lead to 3-1.
In the next inning, an Ellsbury double, Jeter single and Brian McCann RBI sacrifice fly against Tomlin pulled the visitors to within a run of the Tribe at 3-2. Teixeira’s second homer of the night — this time a two-run shot a little higher up in the right-field stands — helped the Yankees erase the three-run deficit by taking a 4-3 lead in the fifth.
The Indians answered right away in the bottom of the inning to tie the game when Cabrera doubled with one out and then came home two batters later on a Santana single.
Both pitchers gave their respective teams good starts by pitching into the seventh, but neither figured into the decision with the score deadlocked at 4-4 when the bullpens got involved. Tomlin gave up four runs on eight hits — including the two homers to Teixeira — did not walk a batter and struck out five over seven innings.
McCarthy made his 19th start of the season, but his first in the American League following the July 3rd trade that brought him to New York from Houston in exchange for left-handed pitcher Vidal Nuno and cash considerations. After spotting the Tribe three first-inning runs, the right-hander settled in to hold the Indians to one more run the rest of the way. In 6⅔ innings, he gave up four runs (only one earned) on nine hits and a walk, striking out three.
Stephanie Storm can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Indians blog at www.ohio.com/indians. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/SStormABJ and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/abj.sports.