The New York Yankees might be constructed a bit more like a New York Knicks team at the moment—rife with creaky-kneed relics from an All-Star Game you watched on an analog television. Whenever they play at Progressive Field, however, this club is instantly and inexplicably rejuvenated into the mighty Bronx Bombers of yore. After last night’s 5-4 loss, the Cleveland Indians are now 16-27 overall against the Yanks since 2010, their worst record against any American League team over that span. And yeah, that's just the tip of the iceberg. If you’ve packed away your old “I Hate the Yankees Hankie,” then it might be time to dig those suckers out this weekend.
For all the talk about finally turning the tables on the Tigers this season, Cleveland still had a better winning percentage against Detroit from 2010-2015 (a meager .400) than they managed against New York (.381). And, when you start going back further in time, the presumed balancing of the scales never really emerges either.
Since Jacobs / Progressive Field opened in 1994, the Indians are a staggering 66-118 vs. the Yankees (.359)—again by far their worst mark against an AL opponent in that period. The run diff in that extended series: 1,056 to 855 = 201 runs. Even the mighty “Era of Champions” Tribe teams from 1995 to 2001 posted just a 30-45 mark against baby Jeter and Co.
The far more glaring and disturbing aspect of this lopsided nightmare, however, has been New York’s complete and total ownership of the corner of Carnegie and Ontario. In the two clubs’ 91 regular season meetings in Cleveland since '94, New York has now won 57 of them. That’s a .626 winning percentage—better than any current MLB team’s overall record this season. A .626 winning percentage in another team’s park?! What is this madness?
In fairness to the Indians, the one circumstance in which they’ve traditionally bucked this trend has been the postseason, in which they’re 5-3 at home against the Yankees with two playoff series wins (1997 and 2007). The current club hasn’t looked particularly intimidated by the dreaded pinstripes of late, either (and not just because New York doesn't bring its pinstripes on the road). In their limited meetings the past few seasons, Cleveland has won 9 of the last 15. But at home, it’s still a 4-4 split.
With those memorable playoff meetings aside, the Cleveland-New York dynamic has been pretty well established going back even beyond the Jacobs Field days. The Indians were one of many teams perpetually regulated to also-ran status during the various Yankee dynasties going as far as back as the 1920s. And lest it be forgotten, during our “Era of Champions”—which included zero actual world titles for Cleveland—the Yankees won four (1996, 98,99, 2000).
Yankeedom changes a man. Maybe not always for the worst, but an anti-beard agenda is still an attack on liberty.
There’s a lot to hate here, folks. So, don’t sit on your hands and look at this 2016 Yankee squad as some sort of sympathetic bunch to take lightly. Sure, Teixeira is hitting .190, their rotation is in tatters, and they’re likely on the verge of a fire sale. But, as last night’s events proved
(1) New York’s 7-8-9 bullpen arms are still the elite of the elite
(2) the Indians still have trouble beating this freaking team in Cleveland.
This will never be remembered when some schmo is recounting Cleveland's W/L record against New York in the future, but the Indians bats were actually superb against the 101 mile per hour nastiness of Aroldis Chapman in the ninth inning last night. Along with Napoli’s walk and Uribe’s single, there were a few terrific at-bats from Jose Ramirez, Rajai Davis, and Tyler Naquin. J-Ram fouled off about six pitches before striking out, Davis crushed a ball to left but directly into the glove of Brett Gardner, and Naquin—who rarely faces lefties of any kind, let alone fire-breathing save demons—nearly punched a game-tying single through the right side. It just wasn’t to be.
Meanwhile, shame bells ring for Abraham Almonte, who killed a seventh inning rally twice in one at-bat—first by striking out, then by standing in suspended animation for five seconds as the third strike bounced about 30 feet away from catcher Brian McCann. Once Abe finally did run to first base, he very nearly still beat out McCann’s throw, but, again, it wasn’t to be… because.. you know, the effing Yankees are in town.
Not every Tribesman has been left mystified by Yankee hurlers across the past couple decades. My childhood hero and life coach Albert Belle, for example, video-gamed Yankee pitchers to the tune of 11 homers and a 1.186 OPS in just 31 games between ’94 and ’96.
Aww, look at the Alomar brothers keeping each other company. And how about zero representation from any current Indians? Admittedly, it takes a while to accumulate 40 ABs when you play a team only like seven times a year.
Yan just can’t seem to keep his name out of any “All-Time Worst” batting lists of late.
Having Kluber and Carrasco on this list bodes well for the weekend, I suppose. Meanwhile, if your guess for the ultimate Yankee Whisperer was Jason Davis, kudos, you win all the things.
I’m not saying I actually recall Chili Davis smashing a 450 foot homerun off a fat, hanging Brian Anderson curveball, but it’s weird how easy it is to picture such a thing.