CLEVELAND — In the long grind of the season, there will be games that pack a year’s worth of odd plays into a single contest.
Saturday night’s game against the Indians was one of those, and it came with the result most important to the Yankees: a victory.
They beat the Indians, 5-4, in front of 35,353 at Progressive Field on a night in which the go-ahead run scored on a so-called Little League home run and Aaron Boone was ejected for the second time this season.
“A little bit of a wacky game there,” Boone said.
Austin Romine led off the seventh with a drive to right-center that figured to be a double. Rightfielder Brandon Guyer bobbled the ball for one error, giving Romine a chance to take third. After catching Guyer’s relay, second baseman Erik Gonzalez fired past third as Romine dived in headfirst, with the ball skipping away and taking a spinning hop into the Indians’ dugout as pitcher Mike Clevinger was unable to corral it. Romine was awarded home, giving the Yankees a 5-4 lead.
“Why does everybody have fun watching a catcher try and run to third?” Romine said with a laugh after a dash around the bases that had his teammates going crazy in the dugout. “Pumped up. It was a big spot in the game.”
Said Dellin Betances: “Speed kills, man. Speed kills.”
David Robertson, who replaced CC Sabathia after yet another unusual play produced two runs for the Indians and tied it at 4-4, pitched 1 1⁄3 scoreless innings, striking out three.
Betances struck out two in a perfect eighth and Aroldis Chapman made it 26 saves in 27 chances with a scoreless ninth.
The Yankees took a 3-0 lead three batters into the game as Brett Gardner walked, Aaron Judge singled and Didi Gregorius hit a three-run homer to rightfield. It was his 17th.
Much of the game’s abnormal activity occurred in the sixth.
Giancarlo Stanton fell in a 0-and-2 hole and swung at Clevinger’s third pitch. Plate umpire Ed Hickox said Stanton swung and missed; Stanton said the ball “hit my hand” and also thought “it might have caught the bat also. What I felt on my hand, that’s what I thought.”
Boone agreed that the ball caught the bat as well as Stanton’s hand, which would have been a foul ball. Even more animated than when he was ejected May 22 in Texas for arguing balls and strikes, Boone was tossed by first-base umpire Jerry Meals. Afterward he conceded: “Looks like they got the call right.”
With two outs, Greg Bird extended his hitting streak to eight games by lining a 2-and-1 fastball to rightfield for his eighth homer and a 4-2 lead. It was Bird’s 12th RBI in his last six games.
With one out in the bottom of the inning, Michael Brantley reached on an infield hit, Jose Ramirez (who had hit his 29th homer in the first) walked and Edwin Encarnacion hit a shot to third that Miguel Andujar turned into an impressive 5-3 putout.
The rookie was not as impressive a batter later when Guyer hit a chopper to him. Andujar made a nice backhanded stop but Bird had to come off the bag to catch his throw. Ramirez never stopped running, and when Bird’s throw to the plate came in slightly high — it banged off Romine’s glove — the Indians had scored two runs on an infield single to tie it at 4.
A frustrated Sabathia walked off having allowed four runs and four hits in 5 2⁄3 innings, but he wasn’t frustrated afterward. “That’s all it’s about, wins,” he said. “Us coming back, Ro hitting the inside-the-parker was huge, as was us getting the win.”