CLEVELAND (AP) — Zach Plesac followed a family tradition.
Like his uncle, his first major league win came against baseball’s most celebrated team.
Plesac dodged some early danger and pitched seven strong innings, Carlos Santana hit a two-run homer and the Cleveland Indians posted a 5-2 win over the New York Yankees, who welcomed back shortstop Didi Gregorius on Friday night.
Making just his third start at 24, Plesac (1-1) showed poise beyond his years by settling down after a few anxious innings and stifling the AL East’s top team. The Yankees, who are just 1-3 so far on a six-game trip, managed just six hits — and only two after the third — against the right-hander and nephew of former major leaguer Dan Plesac.
“It’s awesome,” said Plesac, who was wheeled in a cart into the showers for a celebratory dousing by teammates. “I never could have dreamed it like this. It’s absolutely incredible.”
When the game ended, Plesac received a text from his uncle, who works as an analyst for the MLB Network.
“He told me his first big league loss was to the Chicago White Sox and his first big league win was the New York Yankees,” said Plesac, who lost a tough decision in Chicago on May 2. “So people say history repeats itself. Man, it’s crazy.”
Plesac showed confidence and composure in his first two major league starts — his May 28 debut at Fenway Park, and in front of over 100 family members and friends in Chicago — and that poise was tested early by the Yankees.
But he steered clear of trouble and gave the Indians more reason to think he might be a big part of their future.
“We don’t need to send him to Cooperstown yet, but we love what we see,” cracked Indians manager Terry Francona. “The kid’s been phenomenal.”
Santana broke a 2-all tie by connecting on a change-up from Domingo Germán (9-2), who lost for the first time on the road and failed to become baseball’s first 10-game winner.
Nick Wittgren worked a perfect eighth and Brad Hand struck out the side in the ninth — New York’s 3-4-5 hitters — for his 19th save in 19 tries.
Tyler Naquin also homered for the Indians, who took two of three from Central-leading Minnesota and are trying to stay in contention while waiting for three full-time starters to return from injuries.
Jason Kipnis had two RBIs for Cleveland.
Gregorius got two hits playing for the first time since Game 4 of last year’s AL Division series against Boston when he injured his elbow making a throw. He underwent Tommy John surgery, and made a quick return to the Yankees, who have kept winning despite numerous major injuries.
Gregorius singled in his first at-bat of 2019, but was a little overzealous and got thrown out trying to stretch it into a double by right fielder Naquin.
“It was a really good day even though we didn’t get the win, but it was a good start,” said Gregorius, adding he didn’t feel any extra pressure. “It’s the same game. You try not to over-think it. You go out there and play the game. That’s all I was trying to do.”
The Yankees have homered in a season-high 11 straight games.
Yankees: 2B Gleyber Torres missed his second straight game with a sore left shoulder. Manager Aaron Boone said Torres, who is moving back to his regular position now that Gregorius is back, will probably play Saturday. … RHP Masahiro Tanaka was in New York for the birth of his baby daughter and Boone said he will “probably not” be pack to make his start Sunday.
LHP CC Sabathia (3-2, 3.61 ERA) goes for his 250th career win against the team that drafted him as a teenager in 1998. Sabathia joined the 3,000-strikeout club earlier this season. He’s one of just eight pitchers since 1900 with 100 victories for multiple franchises.
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