NEW YORK (AP) – In a difficult season for the Cleveland Indians, the return of Josh Tomlin has become a bright spot.
Tomlin had his second straight impressive start since returning from shoulder surgery, Cody Allen worked out of his own jam in the ninth inning Thursday night and the Indians held on for a 3-2 victory over the New York Yankees.
“It’s fun to talk about him,” manager Terry Francona said. “We’ve talked about, just in the short period he’s been here, how much we’re pulling for him.”
Tomlin (1-1) only allowed Alex Rodriguez’s 680th career home run leading off the fourth and a double to Chase Headley in seven deliberate innings. The right-hander has been touched for just three runs and seven hits in 13 1-3 innings since coming back from his second major operation since 2012.
“Obviously you don’t want to have the injuries,” Tomlin said. “Sometimes it gets in your head but for the most part when you’re out there and you’re throwing the ball pretty well, it really doesn’t creep into your head.”
Allen took over in the ninth with the score 3-1 and gave up a leadoff single to A-Rod, who surprised most everyone in the ballpark and stole second.
Several players took exception with umpire Dan Iassogna’s strike zone throughout the night, right into the ninth: After Brian McCann was called out on strikes and had a brief conversation with Iassogna, manager Joe Girardi raced from the dugout and was instantly ejected. He proceeded to dig a line in the dirt near home plate and yell at Iassogna.
“I ejected him for leaving his position to argue balls and strikes,” Iassogna told a pool reporter.
Carlos Beltran then singled in a run and rookie Greg Bird walked, with the crowd of 36,129 finally making some noise. But Headley grounded to first for the second out and Allen got Didi Gregorius to fly to left field for his 24th save.
“I hurt myself a little bit, getting behind in the count, left some pitches over the plate, but they hit some balls at some guys,” said.
Lonnie Chisenhall hit an RBI double, and Michael Brantley – still limited to designated hitter because of a sore shoulder – and Jose Ramirez had RBI singles off Ivan Nova (5-5).
Losers of four of five coming in, the Indians got help from their new-look outfield of converted infielders Ramirez and Chisenhall and newcomer Abraham Almonte. They took two of three from the AL East leaders last week in Cleveland, and won the opener of this four-game series.
Almonte made a running, leaping catch at the wall in right-center in the sixth on a drive by Brett Gardner. Chisenhall made a diving catch of Carlos Beltran’s sinking liner to open the seventh.
Feeling “better and better every day,” Chisenhall said of the position where he’s made only 14 starts. “I’m still going to new ballparks … just learning that, learning the pitchers and reading the hitters’ swings out there.”
Working as slowly as Tomlin, Nova got in trouble twice because of walks. Chisenhall hit a hot shot to right-center to score Carlos Santana from first in the second, and Ramirez drove in Almonte after the center fielder walked in the fourth.
Nova had won four of his previous five starts, but he failed to get to the sixth Thursday, needing 94 pitches for five innings.
“You’re going to have days like this,” Nova said. “Not going to feel perfect every time you go out there.”
Indians: RHP Gavin Floyd (elbow surgery) gave up four runs while getting one out in his first rehab start. He’s been out all season. General manager Chris Antonetti said Floyd was healthy and felt great. He also said Floyd could possibly return late this season, but “there are a number of things that need to happen before that. But Gavin deserves a ton of credit for the way he has embraced the rehab process.”
Yankees: RHP Michael Pineda (forearm strain) is scheduled to throw about 65 pitches for Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes/Barre in his second and likely final rehab start.
Indians: RHP Carlos Carrasco (11-9) has the lowest average against (.184) when pitching on the road. He’s 4-1 with a 1.55 ERA in his last seven outings away from Progressive Field. He gave up two runs and four hits over eight innings against New York in Cleveland on Aug. 11.
Yankees: RHP Masahiro Tanaka is coming off a complete game win at Toronto. He was tagged for five runs and 10 hits over 6 2-3 innings in his only start against Cleveland, last season.
Antonetti on the Indians’ outfield of Ramirez, Chisenhall and Almonte: “You could’ve given me 1,000 guesses and I wouldn’t have come up with that.”
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