NEW YORK -- There was a bit of role reversal going on at Yankee Stadium Friday afternoon, when the small-market Cleveland Indians held a press conference for the player (left-handed pitcher Andrew Miller) they'd acquired from the biggest market team of all, the New York Yankees, five days earlier.
After Friday night, the Yankees are hoping the role reversals last a couple more days.
The rebuilding Yankees host the American League Central-leading Indians in the second game of a three-game series Saturday afternoon. New York never trailed in winning Friday night's opener, 13-7.
While the final score suggested a back-and-forth slugfest, the Yankees' ability to jump out to insurmountable leads -- they led 6-0 in the third and 11-4 after the seventh -- against a doubly dangerous Indians team had manager Joe Girardi pleased.
"When you talk about Cleveland, everyone talks about how well their pitching has been this year," Girardi said. "But going into tonight they were second in the league in runs. You don't hear as much about their offense, but it's really good."
The Indians offense hasn't been nearly good enough to cover up for the sudden struggles of their pitching staff, which was seemingly bolstered by the acquisition of Miller in exchange for four prospects on Sunday.
Cleveland has been outscored 50-32 in the last five games, during which it has gone 1-4 while its starters have allowed a whopping 30 runs in just 17 1/3 innings. The skid has raised the Indians' ERA nearly three-tenths of a run -- from 3.59 to 3.88 -- and dropped them from first in the AL in ERA to third.
"It's still a tough pill to swallow whenever the offense is clicking like they're clicking and we're not doing the job we're supposed to be doing," said right-hander Josh Tomlin, who became the latest culprit Friday by giving up seven runs over 4 2/3 innings -- the longest start by an Indians pitcher during the slump.
The last pitcher to produce a strong start will take the mound for the Indians on Saturday, when right-hander Corey Kluber opposes Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia in a matchup of pitchers who won the American League Cy Young Award while playing for Cleveland.
Kluber, who won the Cy Young in 2014, earned the win Sunday, when he threw seven shutout innings in an 8-0 victory over the Oakland Athletics. He has allowed one run or fewer in three of his last four starts, a stretch in which he's lowered his ERA from 3.79 to a season-low 3.27.
Sabathia, the 2007 Cy Young Award winner, will be trying to snap out of a lengthy slump. A late comeback by the Yankees spared Sabathia the loss on Monday, when he gave up five runs over 5 2/3 innings in a 6-5, 10-inning win over the New York Mets. Sabathia has failed to author a quality start in seven of his last eight outings, a stretch in which he's gone 1-4 with a 6.85 ERA as his overall ERA has increased from 2.20 to 4.15.