CLEVELAND — It is, admittedly, not an especially long register if you’re putting together a list of most impressive victories of this Yankees season.
Still, Thursday night’s 5-4 win over the Indians at Progressive Field certainly is in the running for the top spot.
The Yankees came back to win, something they haven’t done particularly memorably in 2016, did so against a top-flight pitcher, another rarity, and, to boot, did it against one of baseball’s hottest and best teams.
And they needed to challenge a call on the final play of the game and get it overturned to win it.
On Aroldis Chapman’s 28th pitch of the ninth inning, with runners on first and second and two outs, Tyler Naquin grounded a shot that appeared ticketed for rightfield. But after Mark Teixeira dived to his right and knocked it down to save a run, the ball dribbled toward Starlin Castro, who picked up and threw to Chapman covering. Despite a first baseman-like stretch by Chapman, Naquin was ruled safe by first-base umpire Tom Hallion, which would have loaded the bases, but the call was overturned after a replay challenge.
The Yankees also won a replay challenge that nullified an out at the plate and allowed Castro to score the run (on Chase Headley’s RBI single) that gave them a 3-2 lead and ignited a three-run sixth.
Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Chapman combined to pitch 3 2⁄3 scoreless innings, although Betances allowed one of Ivan Nova’s runs to score in the sixth.
Trailing 2-0 against Trevor Bauer, who came in 3-0 with a 2.31 ERA in his previous seven starts and who did not allow a hit until the fourth, the Yankees (42-43) scored twice in the fifth and went ahead for good in the sixth.
Bauer allowed a season-worst five runs in 5 2⁄3 innings as he fell to 7-3, 3.30 for the Indians (51-34), who came in having won 16 of 19 and 25 of 34.
Ivan Nova (6-5) allowed four runs and five hits, including third-inning homers by Naquin and Jason Kipnis, in 5 1⁄3 innings.
Taking no chances, in the sixth, Joe Girardi went to the first member of his power-arm brigade, Betances, who allowed an inherited runner to score on Mike Napoli’s RBI groundout to make it 5-4.
Betances added a scoreless seventh — barely. With two outs, Naquin singled and stole second. Betances then struck out pinch hitter Abraham Almonte, but the curveball got away from Brian McCann and went to the screen. As Naquin steamed around third and came across the plate, McCann just nipped Almonte at first for the third out.
Andrew Miller struck out one in a perfect eighth, giving the lefthander 67 strikeouts in 37 2⁄3 innings, and Chapman earned his 17th save in 18 chances despite walking Napoli and allowing a one-out single by pinch hitter Juan Uribe.
Naquin led off the third by hammering a 1-and-2 fastball to right-center for his eighth homer to make it 1-0. After two strikeouts, Nova grooved a 3-and-1 fastball to Kipnis, who knocked it just over the wall in right for his 12th homer.
The Yankees tied it in the fifth. Gregorius, 29-for-80 with five homers in his previous 20 games, hit his career-high 10th homer to make it 2-1. Headley and Rob Refsnyder had back-to-back singles and, after Jacoby Ellsbury popped out for the second out, Brett Gardner sent a 1-and-2 pitch back up the middle for an RBI single that tied it at 2.
The Yankees knocked out Bauer in the sixth, getting three straight hits by Castro, Gregorius and Headley, the latter of which brought in Castro, who initially was called out at the plate before the call was overturned. Refsnyder’s sacrifice fly made it 4-2 and, after Terry Francona brought in lefthander T.J. House, Ellsbury singled to make it 5-2.