“You can’t help but be aware of who’s pitching for the other team and when it’s a guy like Severino, obviously, most likely they’re not going to give up a lot of runs,” the soft-spoken Kluber said.
It was an inauspicious start to a benchmark week for the Yankees, who fell 3½ games behind first-place Boston in the AL East. Following two more meetings with Cleveland, the rival Red Sox arrive for a four-game series.
“You look at this as a very tough week, but the thing is, you can’t look past these three games because of the four that are looming,” manager Joe Girardi said before the game. “You’ve got to go one day at a time here.”
Coming off three consecutive shutouts in a sweep of Kansas City, the defending AL champions ran their scoreless streak to 30 innings before Chase Headley homered against Kluber (13-4) leading off the third. But the 2014 AL Cy Young Award winner went eight innings and allowed only three hits, rebounding from a loss to Boston last week that ended a five-game winning streak and marked his first defeat since July 4.
“He pounded the strike zone,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. “It was two really good pitchers going at it. Fortunately, Kluber stayed the course, did what he usually does.”
Kluber struck out seven and walked one as the surging Indians (74-56) won for the 14th time in 18 games. The league leader in ERA gave up a go-ahead single to No. 9 batter Todd Frazier with two outs in the fifth, but Ramirez quickly tied it again in the sixth when he sent a 99 mph fastball from the 23-year-old Severino (11-6) into the second deck in right field for his fourth career multihomer game — all this season.
Ramirez came in batting .169 in his previous 20 games and had only one home run since the All-Star break. He also made two excellent defensive plays at second base.
“You wouldn’t even notice that he was in a slump, honestly. He’s the same guy every day,” rookie teammate Bradley Zimmer said. “He did his thing tonight.”
The speedy Zimmer created a seventh-inning run with his legs and added an RBI double in the ninth.
Kluber retired his final nine hitters before Cody Allen finished with a perfect inning.
Severino gave up four hits — three homers — in 6 2/3 innings and lost for only the second time in 10 starts. He struck out nine but dropped to 6-2 with a 2.38 ERA since the All-Star break.
“I thought I pitched well, but I made some mistakes,” Severino said.
New York’s top six batters went 0 for 22 with a walk.
GOT YOUR NUMBER
Kluber is making a strong bid for another Cy Young Award, going 10-2 with a 1.90 ERA in 17 starts since June 1. He is 5-1 with a 1.80 ERA in seven career games against the Yankees, including a three-hitter with 11 strikeouts for a 5-1 victory at Cleveland on Aug. 3.
“He moves the ball around like crazy. He’s throwing four-seamers, he’s throwing cutters, he’s throwing two-seamers. They all come out and look just the same. They’re moving in different directions, and his curveball is one of the best in the game,” Headley said. “Even when he does make mistakes, his pitches are moving enough that a lot of times he gets away with it. That’s why he’s really been the best pitcher in the game the last two months.”
Cleveland’s shutout streak was the longest in the majors this season and the club’s best since a string of 31 innings in May 2008.
Indians: RHP Danny Salazar (elbow inflammation) is scheduled to throw a bullpen Tuesday at Triple-A Columbus. After that, the team will determine whether his next step is another bullpen or a simulated game. … OF Abraham Almonte (strained left hamstring) was set to play for Columbus, and OF Lonnie Chisenhall (strained right calf) will join him Tuesday as his rehab assignment gets moved from Double-A Akron. Both are expected to play two or three games with the Clippers in preparation for being activated from the disabled list Friday when major league rosters expand, Francona said.
Yankees: DH Matt Holliday (back) has been rehabbing in Florida but could be sent to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre for a few days because of poor weather. … Slumping RF Aaron Judge sat out and the Yankees plan to rest him again Tuesday, hoping the two-day break will “refresh him and get him going,” Girardi said.
Indians: RHP Trevor Bauer (13-8, 4.59 ERA) tries to win his seventh straight decision Tuesday night. Bauer is 2-4 with a 4.62 ERA in seven outings vs. the Yankees. He allowed one run over seven innings in an Aug. 4 win against them in Cleveland.
Yankees: LHP Jaime Garcia (1-1, 5.47 in AL) makes his fifth start for New York, still looking for his first win. He is 5-8 with a 4.52 ERA in 23 starts combined for the Braves, Twins and Yankees this year. Garcia lost 7-2 to Bauer in his Yankees debut this month.
More AP baseball coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball