Indians blank Yankees 4-0 with strong pitching in ALDS opener

Cleveland Indians' Jay Bruce, right, is congratulated by Edwin Encarnacion after Bruce hit a two-run home run off New York Yankees starting pitcher Sonny Gray during the fourth inning of Game 1 of a baseball American League Division Series, Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/David Dermer)

The opening game of the American League Divisional Series couldn’t have gone any better for the Cleveland Indians. Behind a dominant pitching performance from righty Trevor Bauer, and a powerful 3 RBI night from right fielder Jay Bruce, the Cleveland Indians took care of the New York Yankees 4-0, taking a 1-0 lead in the five game series.

Bauer, was stellar filling in for usual ace Corey Kluber, holding a no-hit bid for 5.1 innings. The hitless performance was eventually broken up by an Aaron Hicks double. Bauer’s strong night included eight strikeouts, three of which froze Yankees powerhouse and likely Rookie of the Year Aaron Judge.

Bauer’s counterpart, Sonny Gray, was nowhere near up for the challenge of a pitcher’s duel, as the Indians took advantage of the 27-year-old Nashville, TN, native starting in the second inning.

Bruce led off with a double, and eventually scored on a bases loaded RBI groundout by Roberto Perez. The Yankees were lucky to have only one run score as the bases were loaded with no outs. Gray’s confidence was clearly shaken at that point.

Then later in the 4th inning, Bruce delivered again for the Tribe, smashing a towering 2-run blast to right field, pushing the Indians ahead 3-0 and further fracturing Gray’s confidence.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi, pulled Gray after two more walks threatened more damage to the Yanks comeback chances. Gray’s final stat line on the night: 3.1 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 2 K.

His replacement, Adam Warren, managed to stop the bleeding for the Yankees, working out of a bases-loaded jam to limit the 4th inning damage to just the two runs.

Later in the 5th inning, more run support for Bauer would come by the combination of Yankees pitching mistakes and savvy base-running. After a leadoff single from second baseman Jose Ramirez and a wild pitch from Warren, Girardi was forced to make another pitching change.

Jaime Garcia then took the mound for New York, looking to provide some much needed middle relief, but that, too, wasn’t to be. Garcia threw a ball in the dirt almost immediately, allowing Ramirez to advance to third. Then Bruce provided the pop to earn another RBI on a sac fly to left field.

Bauer’s fantastic pitching performance concluded after allowing his second hit of the night, making way for shutdown reliever Andrew Miller. The combination of Miller and closer Cody Allen quelled any remaining chance for the Yankees to make a comeback.

Game 2 of the ALDS will take place on Friday at 5 p.m. as Kluber takes the bump for the Tribe against former Indians ace C.C. Sabathia.

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