November 20, 2014

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Yankees sweep Indians out of first place

CLEVELAND — The Indians’ Hall of Fame weekend was light on the fame and heavy on the shame where the hometown team was concerned.
And it probably had something to do with the guests the Indians invited for the three-day event.
The New York Yankees, the hottest bully on the big league block, stayed that way at Jacobs Field, where they ruined Cleveland’s feel-good festivities by slapping around the reeling Indians for three straight days.
The embarrassing culmination came Sunday, with New York completing the sweep via a 5-3 victory that came in front of a third consecutive sellout crowd and knocked Cleveland from first place in the Central Division.
“The Yankees are playing real well now and we’re not playing well,” said Indians third baseman Casey Blake, whose team lost for the fourth time in five games to fall to 13-17 since the All-Star break and a half-game behind division-leading Detroit. “That’s not a good combination.”
It seemed as though the Yankees, the majors’ leader in nearly every second-half statistic including wins (23-8), had the perfect mix against the Indians all weekend — pitching and plenty of offense.
New York, which won for the 11th time in 13 games, outscored Cleveland 22-6 and outhit the Indians 41-27 to record its first three-game sweep in Cleveland since 2000. The Yankees swept the season series — six games — for the first time since 1994.
The Indians suffered their first sweep at home, where they have dropped seven of their last eight games.
It was the same story in the series finale for Cleveland, which got a positive outing from its starting pitcher — Jake Westbrook — but not nearly enough offense to back it up.
Westbrook allowed four runs on nine hits through seven innings, but none through the first three, while the Indians flailed at New York starter Andy Pettitte, who shut them out through the first three innings as well, surrendering two runs on seven hits through 7 2/3 innings.
“Jake threw the ball about as good as I’ve seen his throw it,” said Indians manager Eric Wedge. “(The Yankees) are on some kind of roll. He did his part without a doubt.”
Westbrook was able to keep Alex Rodriguez — three homers in the first two games of the series — in the park, but not the Yankees, who scored first in the fourth inning on a two-run homer from Jason Giambi.
New York led 4-0 after Melky Cabrera’s solo shot off Westbrook in the seventh.
“I made some mistakes that really hurt our team,” Westbrook said. “With a team like the Yankees, especially the way they’re swinging the bats, you can’t make mistakes. The way they’re swinging the bats, they’re going to have confidence wherever they’re playing, and it was no different this weekend.
“I have to pitch a good ballgame for us, and I didn’t do that. I just gave up a few too many runs.”
The Indians, who came in batting .229 over their last 19 games, did little against Pettitte, mustering just two hits through the first five innings, while moving just one runner to second base.
Cleveland rallied late, but even that was inefficient, with the Indians collecting eight of their hits for the game over the final three innings, yet scoring just three times.
Shortstop Jhonny Peralta wore the goat horns during the Indians’ first two scoring opportunities, getting picked off first with the bases loaded and no outs in the seventh before grounding out to end the eighth with the bases full.
His bone-headed baserunning error drew more attention from the crowd, which rained boos down on the Indians as they took the field for the bottom of the seventh.
Peralta was too far off the bag when the left-handed Pettitte, who has one of the best pick-off moves in baseball, threw behind him to a breaking Andy Phillips.
“Obviously that can’t happen,” said Wedge, who was surprisingly not critical of Peralta.
The Indians scored once off vaunted Yankees closer Mariano Rivera in the ninth after producing three straight hits to start the inning, including an RBI double from Franklin Gutierrez.
It was a positive ending to an otherwise forgettable weekend.
“A lot of guys are down,” Blake said. “There’s not a whole lot of confidence in this clubhouse right now. It’s frustrating to play this way. It’s not a whole lot of fun.”
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 653-0899 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com.

 NEXT UP

WHO: Cleveland vs. Detroit
WHEN: Tuesday, 7:05 p.m.
WHERE: Jacobs Field
PITCHERS: Sabathia (14-6, 3.52 ERA) vs. Bonderman (10-5, 4.75)
TV/RADIO: SportsTime Ohio; WEOL 930-AM, WTAM 1100-AM