CLEVELAND -- The Yankees got a good win against a first-place team Thursday night. Manager Joe Girardi hopes there are plenty more where that came from.
"There needs to be a sense of urgency. The months are ticking away," Girardi said. "We can't expect to have one good month and be in the playoffs."
The Yankees will continue their quest to climb back into relevance in the AL East on Friday night, when they face the Cleveland Indians, who are in first place in the AL Central. Friday's game will be the second game of a four-game series that will take both teams into the All-Star break.
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The Yankees posted a much-needed 5-4 win in the series opener Thursday. The win came in game seven of a 10-game trip that has taken New York from San Diego to Chicago, where they played the White Sox, and then on to Cleveland. New York lost two of three to the Padres and lost two of three in White Sox.
"We've lost two series in a row. It's been frustrating trying to climb back into this thing," said Girardi, whose team is still below .500 (42-43) and sits in fourth place in the AL East, 7 1/2 games behind first place Baltimore.
Friday night in Cleveland, the Yankees will send rookie Chad Green (1-1, 4.09) to the mound in his third major league start. In his last start, July 3 in San Diego, Green picked up his first major league win, a 6-3 victory over the Padres in which he gave up one run and three hits in six innings, striking out eight, with no walks.
Green's mound opponent on Friday will be Corey Kluber, a former (2014) Cy Young Award winner, who on Thursday was named to the American League All-Star team. In 17 starts, Kluber has a 3.79 ERA, with a deceiving record of 8-8. Kluber leads the American League in complete games (3) and he's tied for the league lead in shutouts (2). Kluber will be making his fourth career start against the Yankees. In the first three, he was 1-1 with a 2.65 ERA.
At the beginning of this seven-game homestand that will lead into the All-Star break, Indians manager Terry Francona talked about hoping his team could "grind through" the remaining games before the break. The team was coming off a grueling portion of their schedule in which they had played 20 of their previous 26 games on the road.
Cleveland is 2-2 in the first four games of this seven-game homestand. The Indians won two of three from Detroit, and on Thursday they lost the first game of their four-game series with the Yankees.
The Indians are still in first place, 6 1/2 games ahead of Detroit in the AL Central race. "We've just got to grind through this week and then get to the break," Francona said. "We have a chance to do something special. But being special is hard to do."
The Indians may be experiencing a slight hangover from their team-record 14-game winning streak, which ended on July 2. Since the end of their streak, they are 2-4.