Jose Ramirez hit two early homers, including his first career grand slam in a seven-run opening inning, and the Cleveland Indians pummeled the New York Yankees 19-5 on Thursday night in the start of a four-game series between American League pennant contenders.
Carlos Santana also launched two home runs as the Yankees matched a franchise record by serving up seven. Greg Allen and Santana went back-to-back in a five-run eighth against rookie designated hitter Mike Ford, a former Ivy League pitcher and player of the year at Princeton.
The smiling Ford, throwing pitches from 53-85 mph, then worked a 1-2-3 ninth and received a loud ovation from the scattered fans remaining from a crowd of 44,654, especially after he struck out a looking Roberto Perez to end the inning.
Ramirez and Jason Kipnis smacked consecutive homers off ineffective opener Chad Green (2-4) in a top of the first that lasted 29 minutes.
Perez added a two-run shot against Jonathan Loaisiga, who also gave up a two-run shot to the streaking Ramirez in the second.
Every starter for Cleveland finished with at least two of the team’s 24 hits, its most since piling up 25 in April 2009 at Yankee Stadium. That made it an easy night for Adam Plutko (5-3), who was handed a 7-0 cushion before throwing a pitch and went six innings to beat the Yankees for the second time this season.
Yasiel Puig had two hits, including a two-run single, in his return from a three-game suspension as the Indians romped to their most lopsided victory of the year.
The last time the Indians hit seven home runs was in April 2013 against Philadelphia. They scored their most runs since plating 19 on July 11, 2018, against Cincinnati.
Allen had four hits, four RBIs and four runs for the surging Indians, who have the best record in the majors since June 4 and won for the 10th time in 14 games.
They began an eight-day stay in New York a half-game behind first-place Minnesota in the AL Central and leading the wild-card standings.
After this series, Cleveland gets a day off before playing three games against the Mets at Citi Field.
After beating up on some soft opponents lately, the Yankees began a stretch against tougher competition with a serious dud. They had their five-game winning streak snapped and lost for only the third time in 17 games.
Didi Gregorius, Gary Sanchez and Gleyber Torres homered for New York, which leads the AL East by 91/2 games over Tampa Bay.
The Yankees also gave up seven home runs against Boston on July 4, 2003.
Indians: RHP Dan Otero (shoulder inflammation) and LHP Tyler Olson (shingles) are both set to pitch in a minor league game today. ... RHP Carlos Carrasco, diagnosed in June with a treatable form of leukemia, plans to throw batting practice today at Class A Lake County. ... OF Bradley Zimmer (shoulder, oblique) will move from rookie ball in Arizona to Double-A Akron on his rehab assignment Tuesday. He has been sidelined all season. ... RHP Jefry Ramirez (strained shoulder) is scheduled for a rehab appearance today in rookie ball. He has been out since June 2.
Yankees: RHP Luis Severino (right shoulder) threw his full repertoire with authority in a 30-pitch bullpen. He could face three batters in another session Sunday at Yankee Stadium before heading to Florida for a simulated game. ... RHP Dellin Betances (right shoulder impingement) also threw off a bullpen mound before the game. ... Slumping RF Aaron Judge flexed and squeezed his left hand after trying for a diving catch in the sixth. He stayed in the game.
Before the game, Cleveland recalled RHP Phil Maton from Triple-A Columbus and optioned LHP Logan Allen to its top farm club.
Indians: Rookie right-hander Aaron Civale (1-1, 1.00 ERA) makes his fourth major league start today.
Yankees: RHP Masahiro Tanaka (8-6, 4.64) tossed eight innings of three-hit ball Sunday in a 1-0 win at Toronto.