Yankees offense comes up big in win over Indians

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CLEVELAND — It will take a while for the Yankees to dig themselves out of the hole they’ve created over the first few weeks of the season, but Thursday’s comeback 6-3 win over the Indians might have been an important step in that direction.

The Yankees entered having lost six of seven and quickly found themselves down by three runs after an abysmal first inning at Progressive Field.

However, they came up with three runs in the third before Rougned Odor delivered a much-needed two-out hit to put the Yankees ahead in the seventh.

The two-run single gave the Yankees their first lead, and Domingo German’s ability to recover after his dismal opening frame — plus three more scoreless innings from the bullpen — gave the Yankees a victory to open an eight-game road trip.

Aaron Judge started the seventh-inning rally with a one-out walk off Nick Wittgren. Mike Ford whiffed, but Gleyber Torres ripped a single to center and Aaron Hicks walked on four pitches to bring up Odor, who was in a 1-for-20 skid.

He pounced on a 2-0 fastball and drilled it up the middle to score two runs and give the Yankees their first lead.

“We’re a team that always is strong and to start the season like this, it makes you want to battle more, because we have to,’’ Hicks said before the game. “We have to change it around. We’re last in the AL East and we’re not that kind of team.”

They showed signs of that Thursday.

The first inning captured the last week or so nicely for the Yankees.

The top of the inning featured a lack of timely hitting, with Ford flying out and Torres chasing ball four on his inning-ending strikeout.

Things got really ugly in the bottom of the inning, when the Yankees made three bad plays in the field, German stunk and they fell behind 3-0.

Brett Gardner dropped what should have been a sliding catch of a Cesar Hernandez liner to left and Jose Ramirez just beat Clint Frazier’s throw to second on a double. Ford couldn’t handle an Eddie Rosario grounder that was ruled an RBI single. German followed by being unable to handle a comebacker from Franmil Reyes, allowing another run to score on the error. Josh Naylor’s single to right put Cleveland ahead by three runs before German finally got out of the inning.

The Yankees managed to tie the game in the third against right-hander Aaron Civale, with some assistance by shoddy defense from the Indians.

Kyle Higashioka led off with a double and moved to third on a balk. Gardner whiffed, but DJ LeMahieu’s single got the Yankees on the board. Judge struck out before Ford walked and Torres singled to right-center, where the right fielder Naylor mishandled the ball, allowing a second run to score on the play to make it 3-3.

German pitched around a leadoff single by ex-Met Andres Gimenez in the second and a one-out triple by Reyes in the third. He retired the first two batters in the fourth before a walk to Jordan Luplow and a single from Hernandez. Ramirez followed with a grounder into the shift to keep the game tied.

The Yankees had a chance to take the lead in the sixth. Hicks’ one-out single ended Civale’s night. Bryan Shaw got Odor to fly to center, but the right-hander walked Frazier and Higashioka to load the bases for Gardner. Gardner, however, grounded out.

Odor finally came through in the seventh and Higashioka’s homer to center off Cal Quantrill to lead off the eighth made it 6-3.

German, in his first start since April 10, when he was optioned following his second start of the season, ended up with a solid outing. He pitched five scoreless innings following the unsightly first and retired the final seven batters he faced in the 90-pitch outing.

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