Rougned Odor’s two-out, two-run single broke a seventh-inning tie — and maybe jarred New York from its hitting funk — and sent the Yankees to a 6-3 victory over the Cleveland Indians on Thursday night in the opener of a four-game series.
Odor was batting just .107 and in a 3-for-28 slide when he came up versus Nick Wittgren (0-1). He slapped his single through the middle to score Aaron Judge and Gleyber Torres to break a 3-3 tie as the Yankees got just their second win in eight matches.
Kyle Higashioka homered in the eighth for New York, which entered with its worst record to open a season since 1991, when Stump Merrill managed and Don Mattingly manned first base.
Domingo Germán (1-2) returned from a demotion to the alternate training site and shook off falling behind 3-0 in the first. He lasted six innings and won the first time since serving a suspension under baseball’s domestic violence policy that started in September 2019 and ended his season with an 18-4 record.
Jonathan Loaisiga and Chad Green combined for two innings of relief, and Aroldis Chapman struck out the side around a walk in the ninth for his third save.
The Yankees came in batting an AL-worst .205, embarrassing for a team loaded with talent and boasting a $200 million payroll.
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Boone tweaked his lineup — and rested struggling sluggers Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sánchez — in hopes of sparking his team.
“I remain really confident that our group is going to turn this around offensively and I look forward to the fun that comes along with that,” Boone said before the game. “We’re not doing what I know we will do.”
The Indians, who lost to New York in last season’s wild-card round, have dropped four of five and soured manager Terry Francona’s 62nd birthday.
Germán didn’t look as if he’d be around for long after giving up three runs in the first. But the right-hander, who was recalled from the alternate site before the game, settled in and held the Indians scoreless on two hits over the next five innings.
The Indians scored three times in the first off Germán, who committed an error on a comebacker that could have been an inning-ending double play but he dropped. Left fielder Brett Gardner also failed to hold onto a sinking liner that started things.
Eddie Rosario, Josh Naylor and Franmil Reyes drove in runs as the Indians gave Aaron Civale an early 3-0 cushion. The Yankees, though, responded in the third on RBI singles by DJ LeMahieu and Torres, whose shot toward the gap was mishandled by right fielder Josh Naylor, permitting a second run to score.
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