Yanks end slide before showdown with Blue Jays

The charter flight from Cleveland to Toronto Thursday night got a whole lot cheerier for the Yankees, thanks to an 8-6 victory over the Indians that ended a five-game losing streak and provided a renewed sense of confidence heading into a three-game series against the Blue Jays, who have won 11 games in a row and sit in first place in the American League East by a half-game.

For the first time in more than a week, the Yankees got a big night from their 1-2 hitters, Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner, and the offense supplied ample support for their pitching. Nathan Eovaldi extended his personal winning streak to seven games with 5 1/3 serviceable innings, and Andrew Miller rebounded from his first blown save of the season two nights ago to notch save No. 25.

Ellsbury ended a 0-for-19 slump by going 2-for-4 with a walk and a run scored. Gardner reached base four times in five plate appearances with three singles and a walk, drove in three runs and scored one. At the bottom of the order Stephen Drew was on base four times (home run, double, safe on an error, walk), scored four runs and knocked in two.

Brian McCann, who accounted for the Yankees’ only run in Wednesday night’s 2-1 loss to the Indians, was back with his power stroke in the first inning Thursday night with another home run, a three-run jack this time, that gave the Bombers a rare early lead in games over the past week.

McCann connected with two out off Cleveland starter Trevor Bauer to score Ellsbury and Gardner, who made it seem like old times by reaching base together on a single and a walk, respectively.

McCann became the fifth catcher in the modern era (since 1900) to hit at least 20 home runs in nine-or-more seasons (2006, ‘08-’14). He joins a group that also features Mike Piazza (11 times: 1993-2002, ‘06), Johnny Bench (11 times: 1969-75, ‘77-’80), Yogi Berra (10 times: 1949-58) and Gary Carter (1977-80, ‘82, ‘84-’87). McCann also joined Piazza and Berra as the only catchers to hit 20 or more homers in at least eight consecutive seasons.

Twice the Yankees opened up four-run leads over the Indians only to have the Tribe scratch back within striking distance. They even got a run off Miller in the ninth before he settled matters.

Eovaldi has pitched to a 2.36 ERA in 58 2/3 innings and held opposing hitters to a .254 batting average during his winning streak. It was also his sixth straight victory on the road with a 3.57 ERA in 30 innings. Against AL Central clubs this year, Eovaldi is 6-0 with a 3.00 ERA in 39 innings.

It was a rough major-league debut for Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre callup Greg Bird, who spelled Mark Teixeira at first base and was hitless in five at-bats with two strikeouts. But he had some good cuts and played well enough in the field to enjoy that flight to Canada with the rest of his new teammates.

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