CLEVELAND (AP) — Rougned Odor’s two-out, two-run single broke a seventh-inning tie — and maybe jarred New York from its hitting funk — and sent the Yankees to a 6-3 win over the Cleveland Indians on Thursday night in the opener of a four-game series.
Odor was batting just .107 and in a 3-for-28 slide when he came up against Nick Wittgren (0-1). He slapped his single through the middle to score Aaron Judge and Gleyber Torres to break a 3-3 tie as the Yankees got just their second win in eight games.
Kyle Higashioka homered in the eighth for New York, which entered with its worst record to open a season since 1991, when Stump Merrill managed and Don Mattingly manned first base.
Domingo Germán (1-2) returned from a demotion to the alternate training site and shook off falling behind 3-0 in the first. He lasted six innings and won 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.
The Yankees came in batting an AL-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 Sánchez — in hopes of sparking his team.
“I remain really confident that our group is going to turn this around offensively and I look forward to the fun that comes along with that,” Boone said before the game. “We’re not doing what I know we will do.”
The Indians, who lost to New York in last season’s wild-card round, have dropped four of five and soured manager Terry Francona’s 62nd birthday.
Germán didn’t look as if he’d be around for long after giving up three runs in the first. But the right-hander, who was recalled from the alternate site before the game, settled in and held the Indians scoreless on two hits over the next five innings.
The Indians scored three times in the first off Germán, who committed an error on a comebacker that could have been an inning-ending double play but he dropped. Left fielder Brett Gardner also failed to hold onto a sinking liner that started things.
Eddie Rosario, Josh Naylor and Franmil Reyes drove in runs as the Indians gave Aaron Civale an early 3-0 cushion.
The Yankees, though, responded in the third on RBI singles by DJ LeMahieu and Torres, whose shot toward the gap was mishandled by right fielder Josh Naylor, allowing a second run to score.
RUN, DON’T WALK
Boone spoke with Torres, who raised eyebrows when the shortstop didn’t run hard after hitting a slow roller in the seventh inning Wednesday.
Boone kept his conversation with Torres private, adding it got more attention because of the team’s poor start.
“The one thing I’ll say about Gleyber is the care factor is where it needs to be,” Boone said.
RIVALRY, WHAT RIVALRY?
Francona spent eight seasons in Boston, where he lived and breathed the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry.
And although the Bronx Bombers were in town, Francona said their visit doesn’t make him nostalgic about those days.
“I’ve been here nine years now and I can barely remember last week, so no,” he said, smiling. “It was different people. I got enough going upstairs in my brain without overloading.”
Not known for his speed, Indians DH Franmil Reyes got his first career triple in the third.
Reyes hit a shot into the gap in left-center and slid in for his first three-base hit in his 1,136th plate appearance.
Yankees: 3B Gio Urshela was not in the lineup after his back tightened up during Wednesday’s loss. … Boone said 1B Luke Voit continues to progress and could be back in the next few weeks after knee surgery. Voit will begin taking batting practice next week in Scranton. He led the majors in homers last season and Boone said the club misses his clubhouse presence.
Two lefties face off in Friday’s second game as Cleveland’s Logan Allen (1-2) starts against New York’s Jordan Montgomery (1-1).
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