An exuberant Miguel Andujar inadvertently led his Yankees teammates all the way out to rightfield as they tried to help him celebrate his first career walk-off hit.
Finally, the rookie was caught with the happy Gatorade bath after the Yankees blew a five-run lead but salvaged a 7-6 win over the Indians — their fourth straight victory and 13th in their last 14 games — before a sellout crowd of 46,869 on Friday night at Yankee Stadium.
“I feel good with that opportunity the team has given to me to play every day,” said Andujar, whose RBI single off Cody Allen on a 1-and-2 pitch with two outs in the ninth drove in Giancarlo Stanton. “And Gleyber, too.”
The Yankees’ bullpen nearly wasted CC Sabathia’s dominating outing and milestone home runs by Gleyber Torres, Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez. Except the Indians’ pitching was worse.
The Yankees (22-10) remained one game behind the AL East-leading Red Sox. “It’s exciting,” said Sabathia, who allowed three hits in six scoreless innings, walked none, struck out seven and lowered his ERA to 1.39. “Everybody in here knows we can get better. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun this summer to watch this team develop.”
Andujar, 23, and Torres — who hit a three-run shot in a four-run fourth and, at 21 years, 142 days old, became the youngest Yankee to hit a home run since John Ellis did so at 20 years, 269 days on May 17, 1969 — have quickly become crucial players. Torres, who went 2-for-4, is batting .333. Andujar, who was 2-for-5, is hitting .290.
“This team is awesome,” said Torres, who got the faux silent treatment from his teammates when he returned to the dugout after rounding the bases. “I’m just another guy on the team. I’m trying to do my job and help.”
The Yankees, who led 5-0 before Chasen Shreve and David Robertson allowed the Indians to tie it with a pair of home runs in the eighth, took a 6-5 lead in the bottom of the eighth as Alexi Ogando walked Judge on a 3-and-2 pitch with the bases loaded and two outs.
But with two outs, runners on second and third and an 0-and-2 count on Jason Kipnis in the ninth, Aroldis Chapman fired a 101.7-mph fastball off the mask of plate umpire Tim Timmons — Sanchez didn’t even get a glove on it — for a wild pitch that tied it at 6-6. It was his second wild pitch of the inning and came moments after he struck out Francisco Lindor for the second out with men on second and third.
Chapman said he and Sanchez miscommunicated on the run-producing wild pitch. “I guess he was expecting another pitch,” he said through a translator. “You don’t want to have that confusion. He was expecting a breaking pitch. I understood fastball.”
Stanton led off the bottom of the ninth with a double to right-center off Ogando and reached third on Aaron Hicks’ groundout to first. With two outs, Neil Walker battled back from an 0-and-2 count to draw a walk and Andujar flared the winning single to right on a 1-and-2 pitch.
In the fourth, Judge stroked a 77-mph curveball into the leftfield stands for his eighth homer and a 4-0 lead. In his 214th career game, he became the fastest in Major League Baseball history to 64 career homers.
Judge also was the fastest in MLB history to 63 career home runs (206 games). When Sanchez led off the fifth by depositing Tomlin’s 88-mph fastball into the leftfield stands to make it 5-0, it was his 62nd career homer in 206 games, tying Mark McGwire for second place. Sanchez has eight homers and 25 RBIs in his last 20 games and nine home runs overall.
Sabathia threw 61 of his 92 pitches for strikes., with most of his pitches in the 80s and some dipping into the 70s. He is undefeated in his last 14 regular-season starts dating to Aug. 19, 2017.
“He’s in such a great place throwing the ball,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone — the 37-year-old Sabathia’s teammate on the Indians from 2005-06 — said before the game. “It’s fun to watch him go out there with what he has and really understand how to get guys out and generate the kind of weak contact that he seems to do all the time. It’s fun to watch him, at this point of his career, have a lot of success.”
But the big lefty was robbed of his third win of the season by the bullpen duo of Shreve and Robertson as the Indians tied the score with five runs in the eighth.
Shreve, who did not record an out against four batters, allowed three hits and a walk and was charged with four runs, three of which scored on Bradley Zimmer’s homer to center. Robertson inherited a runner on first and gave up Jose Ramirez’s two-run homer to right-center.
This marked the first meeting between the teams since the Yankees beat the Indians, 5-2, on Oct. 11 in Game 5 of their American League Division Series. That completed their rally in the best-of-five series after they lost the first two games.