NEW YORK — Luis Severino, Aaron Judge and the New York Yankees are headed back to Cleveland for a decisive Game 5 — thanks to plenty of help from the Indians.
Severino rebounded from his playoff debacle, Judge delivered a big hit and the Yankees took advantage of shoddy defense by Cleveland to beat the Indians 7-3 Monday night and even their AL Division Series at two games apiece.
“We’ve got a shot now,” said New York manager Joe Girardi, harshly criticized for his Game 2 decisions. “So it’s a totally different feeling than it was the other day, and these guys have picked me up.”
Gary Sanchez homered and a slumping Judge laced an early two-run double for his only hit of the series to go with 12 strikeouts in 15 at-bats.
Cleveland starter Trevor Bauer struggled on three days’ rest and was chased in the second inning. But it was on the wet Yankee Stadium field where the Indians really flopped, committing a season-high four errors that marked a franchise record for a postseason game and led to six unearned runs.
The defending AL champions made only 76 errors all season, the lowest total in the league.
“The whole night, we made it hard on ourselves to win,” manager Terry Francona said.
After preventing a three-game sweep with a 1-0 win Sunday night, the wild-card Yankees will start CC Sabathia against his original team in Game 5 on Wednesday. Indians ace Corey Kluber gets the ball in a rematch from Game 2, when he was hit hard by New York.
“It’s hard to imagine giving it to somebody better,” Francona said. “We’re looking forward to it.”
The winner faces Houston in the AL Championship Series after the Astros finished off Boston in four games Monday to win their ALDS.
“We’ve got a young team and they’re hungry,” Severino said.
Simply taking two in a row to send the series back to Cleveland was no small feat for the Yankees. The last time the Indians lost consecutive games was Aug. 22-23 at home against Boston, just before starting their AL-record 22-game winning streak. From that point on, Cleveland had gone 35-4 before arriving in the Bronx for Game 3 of the ALDS.
Minus injured slugger Edwin Encarnacion, the Indians have scored three runs in two games since.
Severino got only one out in the wild-card game against Minnesota last Tuesday, but was bailed out by his teammates as New York advanced with an 8-4 victory. This time, the 23-year-old ace was determined to come through, and he did.
“I think he was able to relax a lot more. He was able to control his adrenaline,” Girardi said. “He was able to channel things down and make his pitch, as opposed to just trying to power his way through it.”
Handed an early 5-0 lead and showing lots of emotion on the mound, the fired-up righty struck out nine in seven innings. With the crowd of 47,316 chanting his name, Severino threw 113 pitches and gave up four hits — including Carlos Santana’s two-run homer and Roberto Perez’s solo shot.
“I told him after the game, he grew up a lot today,” Girardi said.
Tommy Kahnle relieved a wild Dellin Betances in the eighth and got six straight outs — five on strikeouts — for his first save of the season as New York improved to 3-0 when facing playoff elimination this year.
“There’s a lot of confidence in that room,” Girardi said.
Sanchez hit his second home run of the series off Bryan Shaw in the sixth to make it 7-3.
A rainy day in the Big Apple prevented both teams from taking batting practice on the field. But the tarp was pulled and play started right on time, with fans in hooded ponchos bunched below the overhangs seeking cover from a heavy drizzle.
Showers dissipated in the bottom of the first, though a few puddles remained on the slick warning track all night.
The first of two costly errors by normally sure-handed third baseman Giovanny Urshela, a .224 hitter in the lineup for his defense, was a painful one. Starlin Castro’s sinking line drive in the second struck him just above the left ankle and caromed away.
Shaken up, Urshela was checked by a trainer but stayed in the game.
With two outs, Todd Frazier pulled a 78 mph curve to deep left and it landed smack on the foul line for an RBI double. A frustrated Bauer gestured with his hand when he didn’t get a strike-three call on a checked swing by Aaron Hicks, who soon singled home a run.
Brett Gardner singled and, after a mound visit from Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway, Judge had a gritty at-bat. The rookie slugger was 0 for 11 with nine strikeouts in the series before fighting back from 0-2 to a full count and lining a two-run double to the left-field wall on one hop.
“Just had to grind it out,” Judge said.
After pulling in at second base, he clapped and pointed to the Yankees dugout.
Bauer managed only five outs after tossing two-hit ball with eight strikeouts over 6 2/3 innings during a 4-0 win in the series opener last Thursday. All four runs he allowed were unearned.
“I thought my stuff was better than Game 1,” Bauer said. “Just a couple of little things went their way instead of mine.”
Urshela’s two-out throwing error with the bases loaded in the third made it 5-0.
Frazier reached on pitcher Danny Salazar’s two-base throwing error to start the fifth. He scored on Gardner’s shallow sacrifice fly to center fielder Jason Kipnis, a second baseman moved to the outfield late this season. Kipnis began the year on the disabled list with a shoulder problem.
“As a team, we didn’t play the greatest defense tonight,” Bauer said.
Indians: Encarnacion sat out again after leaving Game 2 with a sprained right ankle. Before the game, Francona said the team hoped Encarnacion would be available to pinch-hit. ... OF Brandon Guyer is scheduled for surgery Wednesday in Arizona to repair a tendon in his left wrist, ending any chances of him playing in this postseason.
Indians: A favorite to win his second Cy Young Award next month, Kluber went 18-4 with a 2.25 ERA and 265 strikeouts this season. Those impressive numbers included a 2-0 mark with a 1.59 ERA against New York that left him 5-1 with a 1.80 ERA in seven career regular-season starts vs. the Yankees. But they got to him in Game 2 last Friday for six runs and seven hits over 2 2/3 innings.
Yankees: If they don’t win Game 5, it could be Sabathia’s final outing for the Yankees. The 37-year-old lefty was 14-5 with a 3.69 ERA this season and can become a free agent after the World Series. He was removed with an 8-3 cushion in Game 2 at Cleveland after only 77 pitches. New York’s vaunted bullpen squandered the lead and the Yankees lost 9-8 in 13 innings.
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