By TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer
CLEVELAND (AP) — Luis Severino overpowered Cleveland’s lineup into the seventh inning, Jacoby Ellsbury hit a three-run triple and rookie Aaron Judge hammered a three-run homer, sending the New York Yankees to a 8-1 win over the Indians on Sunday.
Severino (9-4) gave up Michael Brantley’s homer in the first and then toyed with the Indians, striking out nine and allowing just three runners to reach. He didn’t give up his second hit until there were two outs in the seventh and was pulled by manager Joe Girardi before getting a roaring ovation from several thousand New York fans.
The All-Star right-hander is 4-0 with a 0.71 ERA in his last four starts.
Ellsbury’s triple came in New York’s five-run sixth off Carlos Carrasco (10-5), and Judge connected in the seventh for his 35th homer — only No. 5 since the All-Star break — to give New York an 8-1 lead. Judge’s screaming liner to center had an exit velocity of 113 mph, and the Yankees can only hope it hurries him out of an extended slump.
After two sloppy losses, the Yankees bounced back to split the series with the defending AL champions, winning a tense 2-1 game on Saturday followed up with a blowout.
For five innings, New York did little against Carrasco, who failed to get out of the second in his previous start.
But the Yankees finally got something going in the sixth, and tied it 1-all on Chase Headley’s sacrifice fly before loading the bases on a double and two walks — one an intentional pass to Judge.
Ellsbury sent a deep drive that outfielder Abraham Almonte seemed to track while battling the sun. But as he neared the wall, Almonte, who returned from the minors on Saturday, didn’t extend his glove and braced for impact well shy of the wall as the ball bounced off its base, allowing three runs to score.
Carrasco was lifted and Ronald Torreyes hit a run-scoring single off Bryan Shaw to cap New York’s outburst.
Other than allowing Brantley’s homer, Severino was rarely in any trouble. He put himself in a bind in the fourth with a leadoff walk and wild pitch, but locked down and retired Cleveland’s 3-4-5 hitters to keep it 1-0.
Brantley touched Severino for a homer in the first, but other than that, the Indians didn’t make much hard contact off the 23-year-old.
Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez, who has had major defensive issues this season, sat for the second straight game.
Sanchez leads the majors with 12 passed balls and Girardi has stressed to the 24-year-old that he has to get better at blocking pitches or his playing time behind the plate will be affected.
“The message came for us verbally,” said Girardi, who caught for 15 seasons in the majors. “‘Your defense needs to improve. You need to get better at it. You need to work at it.’ He’s worked at it, but we’ve expressed how important it is.”
Sanchez worked on dropping and surrounding pitches in the bullpen before Sunday’s game as Girardi looked on. It was also Sanchez’s first chance to catch newly acquired right-hander Sonny Gray.
“He is doing his work,” Girardi said. “His work has to translate into games is the bottom line. Sometimes it takes longer than you hope for.”
Yankees: Following an off day in Toronto, CC Sabathia starts the opener of a three-game series with the Blue Jays.
Indians: Cleveland also gets a break before opening a two-game interleague series against Colorado with ace Corey Kluber on the mound. Kluber upstaged Gray’s New York debut and three-hit the Yankees on Thursday.
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