Yanks rally to win set on Cabrera's clutch hit

Single off Clase in 9th caps comeback after Franchy's tying 439-foot blast in 7th

April 12th, 2023

CLEVELAND -- Last fall, silenced Progressive Field in Game 4 of the American League Division Series with a clutch, two-run homer in the fifth inning.

The 24-year-old utilityman picked up where he left off on Wednesday afternoon, as he drove in the go-ahead run with a ninth-inning single off Emmanuel Clase in the Yankees’ 4-3 rubber-game win. As a result, New York won its fourth straight series to open a season for just the fifth time in franchise history.

“That was a great come from behind win,” manager Aaron Boone said. “I felt like our at-bats were like in the first game where we were hitting the ball hard. Cleveland plays great defense and they made some great plays.”

After sleepwalking through the first four innings of the game, the Yankees got their first two runs on a bizarre sequence in the fifth. After lined a ball 100.9 mph to center field that scored Cabrera, Cleveland’s Andrés Giménez hit second-base umpire Larry Vanover with his relay throw, which allowed Isiah Kiner-Falefa to score in the ensuing chaos.

After the game, home-plate umpire Chris Guccione told a pool reporter that Vanover was hit in the area above his left ear and will likely spend the night at the Cleveland Clinic, but that he was doing better.

The Yanks tied the game in the top of the seventh inning when Franchy Cordero launched his second home run in as many games to right center field. Cordero, who was signed the day before Opening Day, crushed a Trevor Stephan fastball a Statcast-projected 439 feet -- his longest home run of the season.

With the home run, Cordero became the first Yankees hitter to record 11 RBIs in their first seven games with the team. 

“It’s fun to watch,” Boone said of Cordero. “It’s fun to watch him fit in and the guys here embrace him, and for him to embrace it back. He’s got great talent and as we talk about all the time those things happen at different times.”

Boone watched the final eight innings of the game after he was ejected for arguing the review of a potential catch by Aaron Hicks in center field.

With one out in the bottom of the first, Hicks made a diving attempt on a ball from Josh Naylor that the umpires initially ruled a catch before Cleveland requested a challenge, with Boone seeming to take exception to the amount of time it took Guardians skipper Terry Francona to get a challenge in. The play was eventually overturned, which gave Cleveland an early 2-0 lead.

“They conferred and then after they conferred, they went to them for the challenge,” Boone said. “I obviously took exception to it. They got the play right, but there’s no way that the environment didn’t create the end result.” 

Along with changing the tenor of the game, that play also changed things for Yankees starter Clarke Schmidt, who went from dancing around trouble in the inning to having to come back out to get two more outs. 

While Schmidt managed to stop the bleeding that inning, Amed Rosario tagged him for a solo home run two innings later. Schmidt allowed three runs and gave up six hits over four innings of work. While it wasn’ the prettiest stat line, Schmidt did a good job negating hard contact, as Rosario’s home run was the only hit he allowed that had an exit velocity higher than 73 mph.

“Other than the Rosario at-bat, I think I had good execution,” Schmidt said. “I threw a lot of strikes and was on the attack. I think it was a step in the right direction.” 

Rosario had another chance to make the Yankees pay when he stepped to the plate with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, but closer Clay Holmes was able to maintain his composure and get Rosario to strike out to end the game.

“I made a pitch when I had to,” Holmes said. “You never want to put yourself in that situation but when you do you need to bear down and make pitches. Something like this can build confidence going forward.”