Jose Ramirez hit two early homers, including his first career grand slam, and the Cleveland Indians pummeled the Yankees, 19-5, on Thursday night in the start of a four-game series between American League pennant contenders.
Carlos Santana also launched two home runs as the Yankees matched a franchise record by serving up seven. Greg Allen and Santana went back-to-back in a five-run eighth in which the Yankees turned to Mike Ford, a rookie designated hitter and former Ivy League pitcher, to avoid taxing the team’s bullpen.
The smiling Ford, throwing pitches from 53-85 miles per hour, recovered to work a 1-2-3 ninth, earning a loud ovation from the scattered fans remaining from what had been a crowd of 44,654. The cheers were especially loud after Ford retired Roberto Perez on a called strike three to end the inning.
[Thanks to Gio Urshela, the Yankees have an M.V.P. (Most Valuable Parrot)]
Ramirez and Jason Kipnis smacked consecutive homers off ineffective opener Chad Green (2-4) in a seven-run top of the first that lasted 29 minutes. Perez added a two-run shot against Jonathan Loaisiga, who also gave up a two-run shot to the streaking Ramirez in the second.
Every starter for Cleveland finished with at least two of the team’s 24 hits, its most since piling up 25 against the Yankees in April 2009. Thursday’s barrage made it an easy night for Adam Plutko (5-3), who was handed a 7-0 cushion before throwing a pitch and went six innings to beat the Yankees for the second time this season.
Yasiel Puig had two hits, including a two-run single, in his return from a three-game suspension as the Indians romped to their most lopsided victory of the year.
The last time the Indians hit seven home runs was in April 2013 against Philadelphia. They scored their most runs since plating 19 on July 11, 2018, against Cincinnati.
Allen had four hits, four R.B.I. and four runs for the surging Indians, who have the best record in the majors since June 4 and won for the 10th time in 14 games. They began an eight-day stay in New York a half-game behind first-place Minnesota in the A.L. Central and leading the wild-card standings.
Following this series, Cleveland gets a day off before playing three games against the Mets at Citi Field.
After beating up on some soft opponents lately, the Yankees began a stretch against tougher competition with a serious dud. They had their five-game winning streak snapped and lost for only the third time in 17 games.
Didi Gregorius, Gary Sanchez and Gleyber Torres homered for the Yankees, who lead the A.L. East by nine and a half games over Tampa Bay.
The Yankees also gave up seven home runs against Boston on July 4, 2003.
Yankees: right-hander Luis Severino (right shoulder) threw his full repertoire with authority in a 30-pitch bullpen. He could face three batters in another session Sunday at Yankee Stadium before heading to Florida for a simulated game. … Dellin Betances (right shoulder impingement) also threw off a bullpen mound before the game. … Slumping right fielder Aaron Judge flexed and squeezed his left hand after trying for a diving catch in the sixth. He stayed in the game.