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Cleveland at New York

W: P. Hughes (1-0) L: J. Westbrook (0-1)
HR: CLE - T. Nixon (1)   NYY - J. Damon (2)

Damon, Yankees rally past Indians to avoid sweep

CBSSports.com wire reports

NEW YORK -- Joe Torre knew it. Johnny Damon knew it. And the fans at Yankee Stadium certainly knew it, too.

With one more loss, Torre's run as manager might end after 12 championship-filled years.

Boss hits new low, tops himself with Torre ultimatum
by Mike Freeman
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When Roger Clemens was chased in the third inning and the Yankees fell behind by three runs, it appeared the end of an era was drawing near. Then, the Yankees awoke to save their season and perhaps Torre's job.

Damon lofted a go-ahead, three-run homer in the fifth inning, rookies Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain rescued the Rocket and the Yankees rallied past Cleveland 8-4 Sunday night, closing within 2-1 in their first-round AL playoff series.

"We all love Joe Torre, and we would love for him to win another championship," Damon said. "I think Joe Torre is a guy who commands a lot of respect. He's meant so much to the Yankee organization. And, you know, we get to play for him at least another day and, hopefully, longer."

Yankees owner George Steinbrenner blustered Saturday that Torre's hot seat was close to a boiling point. "I don't think we'd take him back if we don't win this series," he told The Record of New Jersey.

Torre responded by was his usual stoic self before the game, and one sign read: "DO IT FOR JOE."

It sure looked grim for Torre when the Indians chased an injured Clemens in the third inning, building a 3-0 lead as Trot Nixon homered, and Ryan Garko and Jhonny Peralta drove in runs.

Damon had three hits and drove in four runs, starting the comeback with an RBI single in the third off former-Yankee Jake Westbrook. New York, which hadn't gotten back-to-back hits in the series, then strung together three opposite-field hits to left from Hideki Matsui, Robinson Cano and Melky Cabrera for a run in the fifth.

Damon worked the count to 2-0 against Westbrook and hit a sinker with no sink on a high arc to right. As it cleared the wall to put the Yankees ahead 5-3, Cano raised both hands in the air down the third-base line and jumped twice. Damon went into a trot, and the crowd of 56,358 leapt with him.

"It's great seeing the crowd go crazy," Damon said.

In a game that mirrored the Yankees' rebound from a 21-29 start, Cano added a bases-loaded RBI single in the sixth off Aaron Fultz. When a charging Nixon overran the ball in right field for an error, two more runs scored.

This time, the Yankees and Chamberlain weren't bugged -- on Friday, he allowed the tying run to score when a swarm of flying insects distracted him in Cleveland.

"I was still taking them off today," Chamberlain said. "It was nice to be able to come in and see things."

In an unprecedented postseason of sweeps, all other division series ended in three-game wipeouts. But the Indians, at least for a night, were denied their first trip to the AL Championship Series since 1998.

Paul Byrd tries to close it out Monday night for the Indians, with the Yankees starting Game 1 loser Chien-Ming Wang on three days' rest.

"I feel like we made a statement in Game 1, and I feel like they made a statement here tonight, especially being down 3-0," said Byrd, 1-4 with a 4.82 ERA in his career against New York.

Only four teams have overcome 2-0 deficits in the first round since the playoffs expanded in 1995. Before the game, Torre told his team to think about winning one game, not three.

"Tonight was unbelievable, just the crowd behind me," said the 21-year-old Hughes, one of the Yankees' midseason callups. It was just the third relief appearance of his career and second in the series.

"He was huge for them," Indians manager Eric Wedge said. "The kid showed a lot of poise."

With former New York City mayor and current presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani leading the cheering from his front-row seat, Alex Rodriguez stopped his postseason hitless streak at 18 at-bats with a second-inning single and also beat out an infield single. But he remained in a 6-for-54 (.111) playoff funk with no RBI dating to his Game 4 home run against Boston three years ago.

New York, which led the major leagues in scoring with its highest total since 1937, pushed across just four runs -- three on solo homers -- in the first two games and batted .121.

While the Yankees got the leadoff man on in each of the first three innings, Derek Jeter bounced into double plays in the first and the third, and Jorge Posada hit into one in the second. Jeter also made a bad throw that led to the Indians' first run.

The turnaround was sudden.

"They came out with a different approach in the fifth inning and I didn't mix it up like I was supposed to," Westbrook said.

In his 24th and maybe final season, the 45-year-old Clemens was limited by an injured hamstring and a balky elbow to one start in the past month. He fell behind nine of 13 batters, reinjuring the hamstring when Kenny Lofton made a bunt attempt in the second. By the time Torre went to the mound to remove him with no outs in the third, Cleveland had taken a 1-0 lead on Garko's RBI single in the first and Nixon's home run in the second, which appeared to glance off the top of the right-field wall.

Rodriguez came over to the mound and tapped the misfiring Rocket on his chest with his glove. Clemens, glove dangling from right hand, slowly walked to the dugout, down the steps and up the corridor to the clubhouse. It took him 59 pitches to get just seven outs.

"It got to a point where I can't put these guys in a hole," Clemens said. "I've been trying everything I possibly could to get it right."

Hughes entered in just the third relief appearance of his pro career, his second this week. He gave up an opposite-field RBI to right by Peralta, striking out four and allowing two hits in 3 2/3 innings. That and Damon's homer were the difference.

"I know the Red Sox are off waiting for the next team," Damon said. "And, hopefully, that team is us."


  • Jeter was 0-for-4 and is 1-for-12 (.083) in the series.
  • Posada was 1-for-3 with a walk and is 1-for-10.
  • Westbrook allowed six runs and nine hits in five-plus innings.
  • Torre might consider replacing Clemens -- who then would be off the roster until the World Series.
Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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Yankees fans salute Johnny Damon after his game-changing, three-run homer.
Yankees fans salute Johnny Damon after his game-changing, three-run homer. (Getty Images)

Players of the Game
New York

J. Damon
AB 4
R 1
H 3
HR 1

T. Nixon
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 1

Related Video

Cleveland Indians
Grady Sizemore, CF5010020 .308
Asdrubal Cabrera, 2B5110021 .154
Travis Hafner, DH3100210 .231
Victor Martinez, C4010014 .333
Ryan Garko, 1B4011013 .364
Jhonny Peralta, SS3121102 .364
Kenny Lofton, LF4010012 .545
Trot Nixon, RF4122011 .500
    Franklin Gutierrez, PR-RF0000000 .200
Casey Blake, 3B4000003 .083
2B - Jhonny Peralta (3, Hughes), Trot Nixon (1, Chamberlain)
HR - Trot Nixon (1, Clemens)
RBI - Ryan Garko (3), Jhonny Peralta (1), Trot Nixon 2 (2)
2-OUT RBI - Ryan Garko (3), Jhonny Peralta (1), Trot Nixon (1)
SB - Grady Sizemore (1, 2nd base off Clemens/Posada)
Team LOB - 8
DP - Peralta-Garko, Peralta-A. Cabrera-Garko, Blake-A. Cabrera-Garko
E - Trot Nixon (1, Misplayed grounder)
Cleveland Indians
Jake Westbrook (L,0-1) 5966011 10.80
Aaron Fultz 1220110 0.00
Jensen Lewis 1000030 0.00
Joe Borowski 1000200 0.00
IBB - Matsui by Aaron Fultz
Pitches-Strikes - Jake Westbrook 79-48, Aaron Fultz 18-10, Jensen Lewis 16-10, Joe Borowski 20-11
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jake Westbrook 9-3, Aaron Fultz 2-0
Batters Faced - Jake Westbrook 22, Aaron Fultz 6, Jensen Lewis 3, Joe Borowski 5
New York Yankees
Johnny Damon, LF4134011 .308
Derek Jeter, SS4000012 .083
Bobby Abreu, RF4000010 .200
Alex Rodriguez, 3B4120010 .200
Jorge Posada, C3110101 .100
Jason Giambi, 1B2000010 .333
   a- Doug Mientkiewicz, PH-1B1000001 .000
Hideki Matsui, DH2320200 .222
Robinson Cano, 2B4121002 .273
Melky Cabrera, CF4111003 .167
a-hit a sacrifice bunt for Giambi in the 6th
2B - Robinson Cano (1, Westbrook)
HR - Johnny Damon (2, Westbrook)
SH - Doug Mientkiewicz (1)
RBI - Johnny Damon 4 (5), Robinson Cano (2), Melky Cabrera (2)
Team LOB - 4
DP - Jeter-Cano-Mientkiewicz
E - Robinson Cano (1, Misplayed grounder)
New York Yankees
Roger Clemens 2.1433211 11.57
Phil Hughes (W,1-0) 3.2200040 1.59
Joba Chamberlain 2311120 4.91
Mariano Rivera 1000020 0.00
WP - Phil Hughes (1)
Pitches-Strikes - Roger Clemens 59-33, Phil Hughes 63-43, Joba Chamberlain 38-23, Mariano Rivera 10-8
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Roger Clemens 3-3, Phil Hughes 2-6, Joba Chamberlain 1-2
Batters Faced - Roger Clemens 13, Phil Hughes 14, Joba Chamberlain 9, Mariano Rivera 3
Game Information
Attendance - 56358
Game Time - 3:38
Temperature - 71
Umpires - Home - Ron Kulpa, First Base - Field Culbreth, Second Base - Gerry Davis, Third Base - Jim Wolf