Stanton homers twice, powering Yankees past Indians 5-3

Sports
Gary Sanchez, Rougned Odor

New York Yankees’ Rougned Odor, right, and Gary Sanchez celebrate after Odor hit a two-run home run in the second inning of a baseball game against the Cleveland Indians, Friday, April 23, 2021, in Cleveland. Sanchez also scored on the play. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

CLEVELAND (AP) — Giancarlo Stanton busted out of his slump with two rocketed home runs — one with the highest exit velocity this season — and New York connected four times, sending the Yankees to a 5-3 win over the Cleveland Indians on Friday night.

Stanton hit a 429-foot solo shot in the third inning off Logan Allen (1-3) and another in the fifth for his first multi-homer game since Sept. 27, 2018. New York has won two straight and three of four after a horrendous start. The Yankees overcame a 3-0 first-inning deficit for the second game in a row.

Rougned Odor added a two-run homer and Aaron Hicks also went deep for New York.

Yankees starter Jordan Montgomery settled in after a 37-pitch first inning, but was lifted in the fifth, one out shy of qualifying for the win.

Lucas Luetge (1-0) came on and got four outs and was credited with his first win in the majors since 2013 with Seattle. The right-hander kicked around in the minors the past few seasons before signing with New York in March.

Darren O’Day and Chad Green pitched an inning apiece before closer Aroldis Chapman worked the ninth for his fourth save.

Like many of his teammates, Stanton came staggering into the series with a .158 batting average and in a 3-for-34 slump. Manager Aaron Boone gave him Thursday off, and the rest seemed to help one of baseball’s most feared sluggers — when he’s locked in.

After the Yankees rallied to tie it 3-3 with a three-run second on the homers by Hicks and Odor, Stanton put them ahead for good in the third with his laser into the left-field bleachers, a 118 mph screamer.

Earlier this season, Stanton hit a single that registered 120 mph, the hardest-hit ball of 2021.

In the fifth off reliever Trevor Stephan, Stanton made it 5-3 with a 418-foot shot that crashed safely into a protective net in the center-field bullpen.

For the second straight game, the Indians took a 3-0 lead in the first inning.

And, just as they did Thursday, the Yankees quickly erased it.

Montgomery created his own problems with a pair of one-out walks before Franmil Reyes scorched an RBI double to left. Eddie Rosario followed with an RBI groundout and Amed Rosario’s single gave Allen a brief cushion.

KLUBER’S RETURN

Corey Kluber’s nine seasons with Cleveland were stellar: two Cy Young Awards, 98 wins, playoff appearances, a pennant.

He’ll remember other things.

“Relationships that you build over the course of eight or nine years,” he said. “You spend that amount of time somewhere, you become really close to a lot of the people. I value that more than statistics or accomplishments or anything like that.”

Now in New York’s rotation, Kluber returned to Progressive Field for the first time since the Indians traded him in 2019. Clean shaven to conform to the Yankees’ long-standing no-facial-hair policy, he caught up with some old and dear friends.

Indians President Chris Antonetti said Kluber made a lasting impression.

“He was an incredible contributor on the field and in the clubhouse,” Antonetti said. “He set new standards for what dominance and extraordinary performance looked like on the field. But he was also willing to help set that example and lead the way for another group and help the guys around him develop.”

UP NEXT

Two of baseball’s best tangle as Gerrit Cole (2-1) starts against Shane Bieber (2-1), who can match Randy Johnson’s major league record with at least eight strikeouts in 17 straight games. The Yankees pounded Bieber in Game 1 of last year’s wild-card round. Cole had 13 strikeouts.

“It didn’t end the way that we wanted it to, or that I wanted it to, personally,” Bieber said. “I’m definitely excited for tomorrow.”

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