While Derek Jeter quietely tied Honus Wagner for sixth on the all-time hit list on Friday night, the New York Yankees continued an improbable run to get right back in the thick of the playoff race and an unlikely bunch of pitchers have led the way.
Esmil Rogers, perhaps the unlikeliest of all, worked five sharp innings Friday night and Carlos Beltran hit a grand slam and drove in five runs as the Yankees beat the sloppy Cleveland Indians 10-6 for their sixth win in seven games.
"They’ve pitched extremely well," manager Joe Girardi said of a group including Rogers, Brandon McCarthy, Chris Capuano and Shane Greene. "I’m not sure any of us knew exactly what to expect, but since the All-Star break we’ve had a chance to win every game and that’s because of them."
The Yankees walked seven times in moving seven games above .500 (61-54) for the first time this season. They are 14-7 since the break.
Jeter tied Wagner for sixth place on the career list with his 3,430th hit in a five-run first inning against Trevor Bauer (4-7). Beltran’s 11th career slam highlighted a five-run sixth. The Indians, who have the majors’ worst fielding percentage, prolonged both innings with errors in their fourth straight loss overall and seventh in a row in the Bronx.
"I think we all understand the type of team we need to be to win, and not making teams earn every single thing they get does not put us in the best position to win," Indians manager Terry Francona said.
Picked up off waivers on July 31 after the Toronto Blue Jays cut him for the second time this season, Rogers (2-0) became the 12th player to make a start for New York.
Pitching in place of David Phelps (elbow inflammation), he allowed one run and four hits over five innings in his first start since Sept. 25 for Toronto and threw 88 pitches — 45 was his high this season coming in.
"I didn’t have my confidence like I have right now," Rogers said about the difference between the way he is pitching now compared to earlier in the season.
Rogers’ outing followed four fine starts by a makeshift rotation against the Detroit Tigers’ heralded staff. Three of those came from pitchers who made their first start for the Yankees in July: McCarthy, Capuano and Greene.
The Yankees took advantage of three walks by Bauer in the first inning. Beltran, Stephen Drew and Martin Prado had RBI singles and another run scored on second baseman Jason Kipnis’ throwing error.
Bauer was charged with five runs and six hits in 3 1/3 innings.
John Axford walked the bases loaded — one intentional — before Beltran connected.
Indians: Center fielder Michael Brantley was given the start at designated hitter to "get him off his legs," Francona said. The All-Star was 1 for 7 in two losses at Cincinnati. … Third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall was out of the starting lineup because he looked fatigued, Francona said. Chisenhall is hitless in his last 13 at-bats.
Yankees: First baseman Mark Teixeira sat out his second straight game after getting stitches in his left pinkie Wednesday night. … Michael Pineda struck out seven without walking a batter in 4 1/3 innings of a rehab start for Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes/Barre. He threw 72 pitches and allowed six hits and a run. … Catcher Brian McCann left in the sixth inning with a mild concussion. He was hit in the mask by a foul ball earlier in the game. He will be reevaluated Saturday before the Yankees learn if he goes on the seven-day concussion DL.
Cleveland’s Corey Kluber (12-6) will be pitching on four days’ rest when he faces McCarthy (4-0) Saturday. The Yankees have not lost in any of McCarthy’s five starts since arriving in a trade with Arizona in early July. New York will honor Paul O’Neill, a fan favorite on four World Series teams from 1996-2000, before the game.
EMPTY THE ‘PENS
The Indians and Yankees combined to use 11 relievers — six for Cleveland. The Yankees’ Shawn Kelley and Cleveland’s Axford were hit hardest. They both yielded four runs. Kelley got only one out while Axford retired two batters.