CLEVELAND -- Jacoby Ellsbury broke the game open, but Aaron Judge put it away. Both of their offensive heroics on Sunday afternoon helped power the Yankees to an 8-1 rout over the Indians at Progressive Field, salvaging a split of the four-game set between postseason hopefuls.
In supporting a stellar start by Yankees righty Luis Severino, Ellsbury delivered a three-run triple off Carlos Carrasco in the sixth, beginning the process of turning a pitchers' duel into a blowout. Ellsbury's shot to the right-field wall highlighted a five-run outpouring in the frame off Carrasco, who had stymied New York for the first five frames.
"It's nice winning these last two games," Ellsbury said. "Any time you win going into an off-day, it's a better atmosphere on the plane. Nice two wins for us. They're a great team that we're playing, so to take two from them after we lost the first two feels good."
With the win, the Yankees remain three games behind the Red Sox, who also won Sunday, in the American League East. The AL Central-leading Indians have a 2 1/2-game lead on the Royals, who split a doubleheader with the Mariners on Sunday.
Severino improved to 9-4 with a 2.91 ERA for the Yankees after holding the Indians to one run (courtesy of a first-inning solo homer by Michael Brantley) on two hits over 6 2/3 innings. The right-hander struck out nine -- seven within the first three innings -- and issued just one walk in the victory.
"We got the one run early on Brant's home run," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "And the way Severino was pitching, we might have to make that hold up. That's as impressive of stuff as you're going to see. The fastball, everybody sees that, but he's gaining confidence in an offspeed. That's a tough day at the plate. That's a tough guy to face."
Carrasco (10-5) was perfect through 11 batters and held the Yankees to three singles through five innings, but then he loaded the bases with two outs in the sixth. That is when Ellsbury delivered the game's turning point. In the seventh, Judge crushed a three-run homer off Mike Clevinger for his 35th blast of the season.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED All rise: Judge's latest home run was another feat of strength for the towering Yankees slugger. His three-run shot off Clevinger in the seventh inning had an exit velocity of 113 mph, according to Statcast™. What was more unique about the shot was that it had a 16-degree launch angle and was only 42 feet off the ground at its maximum height. It marked Judge's Major League-leading fourth homer of the year with a launch angle of 17 degrees or lower. More important for the Yanks, the blast gave the team a seven-run lead.
"I swung at some pitches out of the zone before that, but that at-bat, I was able to stick to my approach and just get something out over the plate and try to drive it to right-center," Judge said. "The past couple of weeks, I've been getting off my approach, and when you get off your approach here in the Major Leagues, people will expose you."
Almonte's misplay: Ellsbury swung the momentum New York's way with his three-run triple, but the extra-base hit had its roots in right fielder Abraham Almonte's poor route. As Almonte approached the right-field wall, he flinched before making contact with the padding, and the ball dropped in for the three-run, three-base hit. Per Statcast™, that ball in play had a hit probability of only 11 percent and a catch probability of 76 percent.
"His steps were shorter and choppier than if you put your head down and go to the spot, maybe try to get behind it," Francona said. "Then, as he closed in on the warning track, you could see he didn't quite know where he was. I'm not sure he knew where the ball was, either. Pivotal play to say the least."
"This is a ball that should be caught," Almonte said. "I wasn't able to make the play. I thought it was not an easy fly ball, but it should be caught." More >
"I'm going to say it's awful hard, because it's such a hard-hit ball. It's a line drive. It's not like it's a ball where you have time to circle around and get the angle on it. He's trying to go get to that spot. There's not really much you can do." -- Indians bench coach Brad Mills, who doubles as the outfield instructor, on Almonte's blunder in right
WHAT'S NEXT Yankees: The Yankees have an off-day Monday and will resume play on Tuesday at 7:07 p.m. ET north of the border, opening a three-game series with the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. CC Sabathia (9-4, 3.81 ERA) will face Toronto for the fourth time this year, having gone 1-1 with a 7.62 ERA in those prior efforts.
Indians: Following an off-day on Monday, the Indians will host the Rockies in a two-game Interleague set at Progressive Field. Ace Corey Kluber (9-3, 2.77 ERA) is slated to take the ball for the Tribe in the opener at 7:10 p.m. ET on Tuesday. Over his past 12 starts, Kluber has a 1.77 ERA with 131 strikeouts against 15 walks in 86 1/3 innings.