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CLEVELAND — Three out of four ain’t bad.
For the struggling Yankees, it was a much-needed reprieve. After taking the first three games of the series here, the Bombers dropped the series finale 7-3 at Progressive Field.
Gio Urshela and Mike Ford homered, the first time the Bombers have had back-to-back home runs this season. It was not, however, enough to overcome their pitching. Jameson Taillon lost it in the fourth inning, allowing four runs on five hits with no walks. He struck out six on the day.
The loss snapped their season-high three game winning streak, but the Yankees (9-12) head to Baltimore with a little more swagger than they came in here with. The Bombers snapped a five-game losing streak, won their second series of the season and with the offense looking a little more alive than when they left New York on Wednesday.
With back-to-back homers from Urshela and Ford in the fourth, the Yankees logged nine home runs over their last four games. They came into this series with 17 homers in their first seven games. Rougned Odor was the breakout star of the season, having the game-winning homer in Saturday’s pitching duel against defending American League Cy Young winner Shane Bieber and Gerrit Cole. The night before, he’d tied the game. Giancarlo Stanton had his first multi-home run game since 2018 and Aaron Hicks, who sat out Sunday with a sore back which the Yankees say is just a one-day thing, started to get his timing going with homers in back-to-back games.
For the most part, the pitching showed improvement in this series. Both Domingo German and Jordan Montgomery had gutsy starts, responding after falling behind in the first innings and then holding Cleveland’s hitters in check as the Bombers rallied. German, recalled from the Alternate Site, became just the third Yankee starter to complete at least six innings, joining Montgomery and Cole, who out-dueled Bieber on Saturday.
There had to be some concerns though — and those came Sunday.
Taillon was solid the first time through the lineup and then Cleveland’s heart-of-the-order hitters had him timed up the second time they saw him. He got through the first 10 batters giving up just one hit, before Cesar Hernandez started off the bottom of the fourth with a single. Taillon gave up three straight singles to start that inning, including an RBI-single to Eddie Rosario. Then Franmill Reyes cleared the bases with his fifth home run of the season, a three run shot that got over the glove of a leaping Aaron Judge in right field.
The 29-year-old retired the bottom of the Cleveland order to get out of the fourth, but needed 37 pitches to get through it.
Nick Nelson, who was so good this spring and for most of last season, struggled as well. He gave up three runs on four hits in two innings work.