CLEVELAND — There were quality at-bats. There was energy. There was urgency.
For one of the first times in this young season, the Yankees played up to their payroll.
“Tonight we showed what we are,” shortstop Gleyber Torres said after the Yankees shook off a rough first inning and rallied for a 6-3 win over Cleveland on Thursday night in the opener of a four-game series.
Rougned Odor’s two-out, two-run single broke a seventh-inning tie — and maybe jarred the Yankees from their hitting funk — as the team won for the second time in eight games and at least temporarily eased concerns of their passionate fans.
“We’ve kind of been searching for that hit for a while now,” Manager Aaron Boone said of Odor’s clutch single. “To deliver it there was huge. Just a huge hit for us.”
Odor was batting just .107 and in a 3-for-28 slide when he came up against Nick Wittgren (0-1) in a 3-3 tie. He slapped his single through the middle to score Aaron Judge and Torres as the Yankees recovered from a 3-0 deficit in the first.
“I like those situations,” Odor said.
Kyle Higashioka homered in the eighth for the Yankees, who entered with their worst record to open a season since 1991, when Stump Merrill managed and Don Mattingly manned first base.
Domingo German (1-2) returned from a demotion to the alternate training site and shook off his own error in the first to last six innings. The right-hander won for the first time since serving a suspension under baseball’s domestic violence policy that started in September 2019 and ended his season with an 18-4 record.
Jonathan Loaisiga and Chad Green combined for two innings of relief, and Aroldis Chapman struck out the side around a walk in the ninth for his third save.
Torres picked up three hits, one night after he was criticized for not running hard on a groundout in the seventh inning of a loss to Atlanta. Boone met with Torres afterward, and came away satisfied the 24-year-old cared.
In the series opener, Boone thought Torres played “with more joy.”
“I care a lot about my team,” Torres said. “It wasn’t about last night. Tonight, I just played my game and tried to help my team win.”
The Yankees came in batting an A.L.-worst .205, embarrassing for a team loaded with talent and boasting a $200 million payroll. Boone tweaked his lineup — and rested struggling sluggers Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez — in hopes of sparking his team.
He was pleased with the results as the Yankees were patient at the plate, drawing a season-high nine walks and putting runners on base. The team scored its most runs since April 11 and had its most hits since April 7.
“That’s us,” he said.
Cleveland, which lost to the Yankees in last season’s wild-card round, have dropped four of five and soured Manager Terry Francona’s 62nd birthday.
Cleveland’s pitching has been solid all season, but the Yankees made starter Aaron Civale work hard and the Indians didn’t throw enough strikes.
“Kind of staff-wide tonight, uncharacteristically,” Francona said. “Guys are usually pretty good about pounding the zone, and they will be. It hurt us tonight.”
German didn’t look as if he’d be around for long after giving up three runs in the first — when he dropped a comebacker that could have gotten him out of the inning. But he settled in and held the Indians scoreless on two hits over the next five innings.
“Remarkable performance considering how things in the first unfolded,” Boone said.
Heyward Lifts Cubs Over Mets in 10th
Jason Heyward had a game-ending, pinch-hit single in the 10th after Dan Winkler stranded the bases loaded in the top of the inning, and the Chicago Cubs beat the Mets, 4-3, Thursday night to complete a three-game sweep.
Kris Bryant had two hits and two R.B.I. and Willson Contreras also drove in a run as Chicago beat the Mets for the seventh straight time dating to June 2019.
Pete Alonso homered for the Mets, who got a stellar outing from the bullpen until Edwin Diaz let in the automatic runner in the 10th.
Javier Baez, who made the last out in the ninth, started the 10th on second. Diaz (1-1) hit Matt Duffy with the first pitch to put two runners on, and David Bote sacrificed them to second and third. Pinch-hitter Eric Sogard was intentionally walked to load the bases.
Heyward then hit for Winkler and hit a sharp grounder into right field.
Winkler (1-0) walked consecutive batters to load the bases with one out in the 10th, but he got Dominic Smith to hit into an inning-ending double play.
Following his defensive struggles in the first two games of the series, J.D. Davis didn’t play the field in the finale for the Mets. Luis Guillorme started at third and made a diving stop on his first chance to rob Ian Happ of a single. Manager Luis Rojas, though, said that Davis will be back in the lineup at third base on Friday night.
“I think he had a good camp defensively, so why give up on him at this point of the season when he’s put so much work in and we’ve seen results in his defense at third?” Rojas said.