As the Yankees try to make the playoffs, there will be a lot of holding of breath between now and the end of the regular season.
While they are currently in a tight race for the two AL wild-card spots with the Blue Jays and Red Sox, they were able to breathe a sigh of relief on Friday when they beat a team with ease for the first time.
The Yankees scored four runs in the seventh inning to put away the Indians in an 8-0 victory, just one day after manager Aaron Boone chastised his team for failing to build on leads in an ugly extra-inning loss.
“That’s what we need to do when we have the opportunity,’’ Boone said following the win. “We haven’t had a lot of games where we scored a couple and pulled away like that.”
The Yankees tied a season high with five homers for the second time in four games with a four-run inning capped by a three-run blast from Brett Gardner to make it 6-0.
Gardner, who has more postseason experience than anyone on the Yankees, advised the team to focus on each day and “not look too far ahead” afterward.
“I feel good about our chances,’’ Gardner said. “We’re in position to make the postseason if we play well enough down the stretch.”
More games like the one on Friday would be beneficial. The Yankees hit a home run in their tenth straight game, their best streak of the season.
“It was nice to win a game handily,’’ said Joey Gallo, who homered twice. “We’ve been playing really, really close games. … We have a lineup that can do that. We have to do that more.”
With the loss of the Blue Jays to the Twins, the Yankees jumped over Toronto and back into a half-game wild-card spot with 14 games remaining. They were still half a game behind the Red Sox, who beat the Orioles, the team that beat the Yankees in a thrilling game on Thursday.
Corey Kluber pitched six shutout innings for the Yankees, their fourth win by more than one run since August 24.
“We’ve got to win every night,’’ Kluber said.
Kluber hadn’t pitched more than four innings since his no-hitter against Texas on May 19, but he was able to do so against his former team, Cleveland.
Gallo hit a leadoff home run into the second deck in right field in the second inning, giving the Yankees a 1-0 lead. As he looks to find his stride as a Yankee, it was his fourth straight start with a home run.
Kluber gave up a leadoff single to light-hitting catcher Roberto Perez in the third inning, then drilled light-hitting shortstop — and former Met — Andres Gimenez with a 0-2 pitch in the fourth. However, he struck out the next three batters to keep the one-run lead.
Judge, who had been hitless in his previous 13 at-bats, led off the bottom of the fourth with a home run to right-center. It was his 35th home run of the year, and his fifth in the last seven games.