Joey Gallo hits 2 home runs as Yankees storm past Cleveland, 8-0

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NEW YORK — The Yankees have seen Joey Gallo when he goes through the cold spells that are normal in his season. Maybe now they are seeing the start of one of his hot streaks. The slugger, acquired from the Rangers at the trade deadline, hammered two home runs as the Yankees hit a season-high tying five and shutout Cleveland, 8-0, at Yankee Stadium.

It was the fourth win in the last five games for the Yankees (83-65), who entered the night half a game behind the Red Sox and Blue Jays for the two American League wild-card spots.

It was a solid bounce back for the Yankees, who suffered a devastating loss to the Orioles on Thursday night. The Yankees are in a stretch of three straight series, nine games, against sub-.500 teams, including Cleveland (71-74) that they have to take advantage of before finishing the season against the Red Sox, Blue Jays and AL East leading Rays.

Gallo hit his first homer in the bottom of the second, his 11th as a Yankee and 36th on the season. He has homered in the last four games in which he had an at-bat. In the Yankees’ four-run seventh inning, Gallo got things started with a single and scored on Gio Urshela’s RBI single. He then crushed his 37th of the season in the eighth inning.

Aaron Judge hit his 35th homer of the season, a solo shot into the right-field bullpen in the fourth. Brett Gardner then hit his ninth of the season, a three-run shot, in the seventh.

Giancarlo Stanton hit his 29th of the season in the eighth as well.

That gave Corey Kluber his first win since May 19, when he threw a no-hitter against the Rangers in Texas. He threw six scoreless innings against his former team. He scattered four hits, walked two and struck out four.

It was Kluber’s best outing since he came off the injured list. The 35-year old missed nearly three months with a muscle strain in the rotator cuff of his right shoulder. In his first three starts off the IL, Kluber had not gone more than four innings.

Michael King gave the Yankees two scoreless innings and Lucas Luetge closed it out.

That was an encouraging sign for the Yankees as they try to piece together their pitching down the stretch. Also encouraging is seeing Gallo get comfortable.

Over the last week, Gallo has started to really heat up. In seven games (five starts) Gallo had hit .278/.300/.944 for a 1.244 OPS with four home runs, five RBIs, and seven strikeouts. In that span, Gallo’s batting stance has quieted down a bit, according to one talent evaluator in the ballpark Friday night. He also seems much more comfortable since manager Aaron Boone dropped him down lower in the lineup. Hitting second in his first six games with the Yankees, Gallo was hitting just .043 with a home run and a .388 OPS.

Overall, it hasn’t been an easy transition for Gallo.

Since coming over on July 31, Gallo has mostly struggled. Going into Friday’s game, he was slashing .151/.302/.397 with a .699 OPS. He had 71 strikeouts and 32 walks in 146 at-bats with the Yankees.

He’s heard the frustration with his strikeouts, joking that he liked hitting ahead of Luke Voit, because he could pretend the boos were just fans calling Voit’s name.

During the last homestand, he was benched to work on his swing and admitted to pressing since coming over from Texas.

“I am a high strikeout guy, it’s not like I hit .300. I’m a walk guy and I hit home runs. I want to be better than that but that’s kind of just the player I am,” Gallo said when he was benched. “So I’ve gone through streaks before. It’s just about, like I said, showing up every day and keep working and swinging [at] strikes and eventually ... things will start to go your way.”

It would be an ideal time for Gallo to get hot with the Yankees in such a heated race in the final 14 games of the regular season.

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