CLEVELAND (AP) — The bullpen broke down, Didi Gregorius misplayed an easy grounder and another player went on the injured list.
The New York Yankees keep taking hits — and keep hitting back.
Aaron Hicks delivered an RBI double with two outs in the 10th inning as the Yankees overcame stunning errors in the ninth by stars Aroldis Chapman and Gregorius and avoided a sweep with a 7-6 win over the Cleveland Indians on Sunday.
Hicks’ shot to the wall in left-center off Oliver Pérez (1-1) scored Cameron Maybin, who had doubled with one out.
The Yankees, who could field a strong team just with their players sidelined by injuries, headed home to a Subway Series matchup against the Mets after salvaging one of three games against Cleveland. New York blew a 5-0 lead in the sixth and a 6-5 advantage in the ninth, when Chapman and Gregorius made miscues.
“I feel like games are always like that here, but these are the kind of games you need,” Hicks said. “It was a hard-fought game, lot of back and forth, and we needed to win to end this road trip.”
Chapman (1-1) got the win despite his shaky performance, and Stephen Tarpley, recalled earlier when the Yankees placed Domingo Germán on the injured list, struck out the side in the 10th for his first major league save.
Tarpley was the seventh reliever used by manager Aaron Boone, who had to rely on his bullpen after scheduled starter Masahiro Tanaka was placed on paternity leave.
“For Tarp to come in and close out the game was big,” Boone said. “It was huge. That was about as tough a situation as you could come into. What a gutsy effort.”
Brett Gardner hit a two-run homer for New York, which had won nine straight series before going 2-4 on a trip to Toronto and Cleveland.
Mike Freeman connected for a two-run homer and Jake Bauers and Leonys Martin had solo shots for the Indians, who went 4-2 this week against AL Central-leading Minnesota and the powerful Yankees but didn’t gain ground on the Twins.
“We’ll win that game sometimes,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “We had a runner on third base. That was a heck of a game. There was a lot going on.”
New York’s bullpen has been solid all season but could be showing signs of being overworked with starter Luis Severino and reliever Dellin Betances out injuries.
However, Adam Ottavino, who gave up a tying homer to Bauers in the seventh, said New York’s relievers are OK.
“There is nothing wrong with our bullpen,” he said. “Everyone is feeling fine. If anything, we might be a little rusty.”
Down to their last out, the Indians tied it 6-6.
Jose Ramirez singled and went to second on Chapman’s wild pickoff. With two outs and two on, Gregorius, who entered as a defensive replacement in the ninth, tried to backhand Francisco Lindor’s grounder, but the usually sure-handed shortstop allowed the ball to hit off his glove. By the time he retrieved it, Ramirez scored and pinch-runner Tyler Naquin hustled to third. Gregorius returned Friday after recovering from Tommy John surgery.
“I tried to get an easy backhand set up for me, but it took a bounce straight to my knee and went to the outfield,” Gregorius said. “It would have been an easy throw to second base. It was the worst feeling I could have ever had.”
Chapman sent the game to extras by striking out rookie Oscar Mercado.
Gardner bounced back from a painful, self-inflicted injury — and snapped an 0-for-22 slide — by hitting a two-run homer in New York’s five-run second inning as the Yankees jumped on Indians starter Shane Bieber.
On Saturday, Gardner needed six stitches to close a gash on his lip after he smashed his helmet in frustration against a wall in New York’s dugout and it bounced back and hit him in the mouth.
Tarpley didn’t arrive until 4:30 a.m. The Yankees had a car service pick him up in Scranton, Pennsylvania, for the six-hour drive.
“I probably got three, four hours of sleep when I got to the hotel,” he said, smiling. “Everything kind of went dark there after it happened (the final out).”
Not long after a small brown bat — a winged one, not a Louisville Slugger model — was seen hanging upside down on the netting near home plate, the Indians’ bats awakened as Cleveland scored four in the sixth off Tommy Kahnle.
Yankees: Gregorius didn’t start after going 4 for 8 with one home run and two RBIs in his first two games since October. “Didi is a gamer, so obviously he wants to be in there every day,” Boone said. “But I think this is a wise progression for him just coming back.”
Indians: RHP Carlos Carrasco will visit an oncologist Monday at the Cleveland Clinic. The 32-year-old was recently diagnosed with a blood condition and placed on the injured list.
Yankees: Tanaka (3-5, 3.42 ERA) will be reinstated Monday to start the opener of a two-game series against the crosstown Mets.
Indians: Following a day off, RHP Trevor Bauer (4-6, 3.93 ERA) will start Tuesday against Cincinnati. He carries a career-long, five-game losing streak into the outing.