Home runs from Hafner, Gardner help Yankees complete sweep of Indians
The Yankees' ace struck out nine and pitched his first complete game of the year to give his busy bullpen a rest and help New York finish off a sweep of the Indians with a 6-4 win over Cleveland.
The Yankees' top two relievers, closer Mariano Rivera and setup man David Robertson had each pitched an inning the last two nights, and the rest of the bullpen had seen a good amount of use, too, with five pitchers getting more than seven innings of work the last two days.
"We really needed it," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "I didn't really want to use Mo, but I would have with two outs in the ninth."
Sabathia made that unnecessary with a 1-2-3 ninth, his first clean inning since the fourth. Travis Hafner and Brett Gardner homered early for Sabathia, who didn't look as if he would need much help at all after retiring his first 14 batters.
"It's just the way we would draw it up," Gardner said. "He looked real good. He had no-hit stuff."
Sabathia said he didn't even notice he was perfect until he heard fans cheering in appreciation. He was happier to close out the game himself.
"I'm still trying to get a feel for the game," in the fifth, Sabathia said. "Probably (would have noticed in) another inning or two."
New York swept the Indians in three games to finish a homestand that began with two losses to the Mets and a 1-2 series against Boston. The Indians were swept in their only visit to the Bronx last season, too.
Hafner, who was Sabathia's teammate in Cleveland when the Indians beat the Yankees in the 2007 AL division series, hit a two-run homer in the first inning off Corey Kluber (3-4), and Gardner added a three-run shot in the second following Chris Stewart's RBI single.
It was enough for Sabathia, who threw three straight balls to leadoff hitter Michael Bourn, then looked dialed in. He struck out the side in the third, as well as the leadoff hitter in the fourth.
Sabathia (6-4) did not allow a baserunner until Mike Aviles singled cleanly with two outs in the fifth inning, then he looked more pedestrian.
"He was really spotting it up," Cleveland's Nick Swisher said of his former New York teammate. "I mean, you go into the batter's box and you're used to seeing 94-95 mph, and all of a sudden, you're seeing these back door breaking balls coming at you, just - bam - right on the corner."
Cleveland put together a couple of runs in the sixth, on three straight singles capped by Jason Kipnis' run-scoring hit off first baseman Mark Teixeira's glove. Nick Swisher added a second run when he reached on a fielder's choice.
Yan Gomes hit a two-run shot off Sabathia in the seventh inning to get the Indians within two runs.
Kluber was rocked early, but gathered himself enough to make it through six innings with seven hits and a walk. He struck out eight, and only was charged with four earned runs because Bourn couldn't handle Robinson Cano's sinking liner in center before Hafner's home run.
He allowed three baserunners with seven strikeouts in his last 5 1-3 innings after Gardner's homer.
"I just left a few balls over the heart of the plate a little too much early on. The difference was, I didn't make those mistakes after that," Kluber said. "At that point, I was just trying to go deep in the game, continuing to get outs and just try to keep them there to give us a chance to come back and win."
NOTES: Drug agents are investigating a narcotics delivery to the home of Indians closer Chris Perez, authorities said. No charges have been filed. GM Chris Antonetti says the team had talked with Perez and is gathering information. ... Girardi said he had not discussed MLB's drug-clinic investigation with 3B Alex Rodriguez. Yankees teammates said they would support Rodriguez if any derogatory information came to light. ... The Yankees improved to 14-4 against Cleveland at the new Yankee Stadium. The Indians beat them 10-2 in the new ballpark's first game, in 2009. ... Phil Hughes (2-4) is expected to start for New York in Seattle on Thursday against RHP Aaron Harang (2-5). ... The Indians will go to Detroit and send Ubaldo Jimenez (4-3) up against Justin Verlander (7-4).