There wasn’t enough time for the Yankees to tour the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame or do much else on their short layover before going home.
So during a quick stop in Cleveland, they went to Progressive Field and split a doubleheader that wasn’t on the schedule when the season started.
Vidal Nuno pitched five innings of three-hit ball to win his first major league start and Vernon Wells and Lyle Overbay drove in two runs apiece as the Yankees beat the Indians 7-0 in Monday’s second game.
After being blanked 1-0 on Justin Masterson’s four-hitter — with three infield singles — the Yankees were held to one run in the first six innings of the second game by Trevor Bauer (1-2) before rolling to their sixth win in seven games.
Pitching in just his second game for the Yankees, Nuno walked three and struck out three before handing a 1-0 lead to his bullpen. The former Cleveland draft pick became the only left-hander other than CC Sabathia or Andy Pettitte to start for New York since 2008.
”He did an unbelievable job, considering he hasn’t pitched in a while,” Girardi said of Nuno, who hadn’t pitched since making his big league debut on April 29. ”He’s very poised out there. Nothing seems to bother him. He was ahead of hitters all day.”
Rookie Adam Warren finished the five-hitter for his first big league save as the Yankees improved to 23-10 since a 1-4 start.
Consecutive rainouts last month forced the teams back to Cleveland for the rare, one-admission twinbill. The Yankees detoured into Ohio on their way back from Kansas City, while the Indians returned home for one day from a trip to Detroit and Philadelphia.
Still missing some of their biggest stars, the Yankees went 6-2 on a three-city, eight-game swing through Colorado, Kansas City and Cleveland.
”This is a great road trip for us,” Girardi said. ”We played three teams that were playing well. Colorado was a game or two out when we played them. Kansas City was tied for first and these guys are in first. To do that, it’s a really good road trip.”
Held to one run and three hits through six innings, the Yankees scored six times in the seventh and handed the Indians just their third loss in 16 games.
Selected by Cleveland in the 48th round of the 2009 amateur draft, Nuno gave the Yankees everything they could have hoped for.
Girardi had wanted to limit Nuno to 75 pitches, but the 25-year-old had surpassed that when he gave up consecutive two-out singles in the fifth. However, Nuno struck out Asdrubal Cabrera with runners at first and third to end the threat and preserve his 1-0 lead.
”If I give up that run they take me out of the ballgame,” Nuno said. ”That was crucial. I was getting tired. I was trying to keep my poise and make pitches.”
The Indians were impressed by Nuno.
”I’d never seen him before but he went out there and put it on us,” said first baseman Nick Swisher, who spent the previous four seasons with New York. ”He put it on us really good, so next time around we’ll remember that.”
Nuno’s first career win was hardly guaranteed when he was replaced, but the Yankees broke it open in the seventh, highlighted by Overbay’s two-run double.
”To be able to shut this team down, this team has been swinging the bats,” Girardi said. ”They’re very balanced. They have switch-hitters, right-handers, left-handers, they have speed. It was an unbelievable job.”
In the opener, Masterson (6-2) gave up four singles. The right-hander overpowered the AL East leaders for his third career shutout and second this year following a blanking of the Chicago White Sox on April 12.
Jason Kipnis homered in the first inning off David Phelps (1-2) for the Indians, who were outscored 25-7 by the Yankees in two losses last month.
In the opener, Masterson had little trouble with a New York lineup lacking injured All-Stars Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira. He retired the side in order four times, struck out nine and was backed by solid and sometimes stellar defense.
New York’s best scoring threat came in the second inning, when the Yankees loaded the bases on a pair of two-out infield singles sandwiched around a walk from Masterson. But he struck out No. 9 hitter Alberto Gonzalez and easily handled the Yanks’ makeshift lineup.
”Masty went out and did exactly what you want your ace to do,” Indians manager Terry Francona said between games. ”They loaded up with their lefties and, from the very first pitch of the game, he had power, he had the breaking ball, he attacked hitters.”
NOTES: Girardi hinted Granderson (broken arm) is close to returning. ”I’ve always said when Grandy feels that he’s ready, then come on,” said Girardi, who planned to speak with GM Brian Cashman about the center fielder. ”We want him back in our lineup. If he feels he’s ready to go, he’s ready to go.” … Yankees rookie INF Corban Joseph led off the seventh inning of the second game with his first career hit, a double. … Making his final visit to Cleveland, Yankees closer Mariano Rivera was presented with a framed gold record album from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. ”It was great,” Rivera said. ”I appreciate that. I know it will have a special place in my house.” Rivera has saved each of his last 17 chances against the Indians, dating to 2003. … Yankees INF Kevin Youkilis (spine sprain) has resumed limited on-field work, playing catch and fielding grounders on the infield grass. … Rodriguez, coming back from hip surgery, continued hitting drills in an indoor cage and jogged as he started his second week of workouts at the Yankees’ complex in Tampa, Fla. Teixeira (right wrist) continued taking batting practice and running the bases.