In the last 10 days, the Yankees have kept the powerful Blue Jays lineup in check and hit Twins pitching the way Donald Trump hits opposing Republican presidential candidates.
Oddly, what they haven't done is figure out the last-place Indians, with Thursday night's 3-2 loss in front of 36,129 at the Stadium the latest setback.
The Yankees, who lost two of three in Cleveland last week, did rally in the ninth. They scored once and put runners on second and third before Didi Gregorius flew out softly to left to end it.
The Yankees (67-53) had only five hits and saw their AL East lead over the idle Jays trimmed to 11/2 games.
Alex Rodriguez led off the ninth with a single against closer Cody Allen and, with Brian McCann up, stole second. McCann was called out on strikes and Joe Girardi soon was ejected by plate umpire Dan Iassogna, still upset, it seemed, with the called second strike to McCann, which the catcher also disputed.
Carlos Beltran's single made it 3-2, which brought up rookie Greg Bird. He walked on five pitches, and Allen fell behind Chase Headley 2-and-0 before getting him to ground to first, advancing both runners. Gregorius then let Allen escape with his 24th save.
Girardi initially was angered by a called third strike to Jacoby Ellsbury in the eighth. "It was four inches outside,'' Girardi said.
Speaking of his ejection, he said: "He threw me out before I even said anything . . . So I don't think that's right. If I say something first, that's different.
"I just want the strike zone to be right. The 3-and-0 to Greg Bird's not a strike. I want the strike zone to be the strike zone. I know they're not going to be perfect, but for me it's a real important time. I took issue.''
Girardi said he had no history with Iassogna. "Danny usually does a really good job,'' he said. "I've never had a problem with Danny. Tonight I did.''
Indians righthander Josh Tomlin allowed two hits and one run in seven innings. He had shoulder surgery in March and was making his second big-league start since being activated from the DL. Ivan Nova, who won four of his previous five starts, allowed three runs and six hits in five innings.
After A-Rod's 26th homer, a leadoff blast in the fourth, Tomlin retired 12 of his last 13 batters. Centerfielder Abraham Almonte helped by racing back to take away an extra-base hit from Brett Gardner leading off the sixth. Almonte made a running catch as he crashed into the wall.
The Yankees had two hits through seven innings.
The Indians (56-64) got to Nova in the second. Carlos Santana led off with a walk and Lonnie Chisenhall lined a 1-and-0 fastball into the gap in right-center for a double that made it 1-0.
Cleveland tacked on in the third. Jason Kipnis, in an 0-for-17 slide coming in, hit his second single with one out and moved to second on a groundout. Michael Brantley, coming off a 6-for-13 series against Boston, singled to left for a 2-0 lead.
The Yankees put two on in the third but couldn't score. Headley got his ninth hit in 20 at-bats, ripping a 2-and-2 pitch into the right-center gap for a double, the Yankees' first hit.
The Indians made it 3-0 in the fourth. Almonte walked with two outs and went to third on Giovanny Urshela's single. Jose Ramirez sent a single to left that brought in Almonte.