NEW YORK -- Indians lefty Kyle Crockett emerged from the bullpen door in left field and made the jog to the mound at Yankee Stadium. The local crowd was already revved up by New York's building momentum, creating an atmosphere that has intimidated many young pitchers over the years.
Crockett did his best to tune everything out as he made his way to the center ring of the Bronx circus.
"I'm just trying not to think at all," Crockett said after the bullpen played a key role in sealing the Indians' 7-3 win over the Yankees on Friday night. "You try not to listen to the crowd or anything and just go out there, get ahead of him and pitch to my strength."
There were two outs in the seventh inning, when Crockett made his entrance -- tasked with facing pinch-hitter Didi Gregorius with runners on first and second base. Starter Carlos Carrasco had cruised through 6 2/3 innings before allowing back-to-back, two-out singles. With Carrasco's pitch count up to 108, and New York turning to a left-handed batter, Indians manager Terry Francona signaled to the 'pen.
"I was actually going to leave him in there to finish the inning," Francona said of Carrasco, who had 11 strikeouts on the night. "But when they hit [Gregorius], I just thought, OK, with [switch-hitter Mark] Teixeira not being available, it just seemed like a good time to go to Crockett."
Crockett made his manager look smart, too.
Gregorius saw three pitches: an 89-mph fastball, an 82-mph slider and a 91-mph heater.
Crockett got three strikes: a foul ball, a called strike and a swing and a miss.
The Yankee Stadium crowd groaned, as Crockett jogged to the dugout after a crucial punchout that preserved Cleveland's 4-1 advantage
"That was really important," Carrasco said. "He only threw three pitches and struck him out. That was really good. Nice job."
The Indians ran into some more trouble in the eighth, when New York strung three hits together and scored two runs, including one on an error by second baseman Jose Ramirez. After Greg Bird's grounder scooted under Ramirez's glove and into right field to help the Yankees cut Cleveland's lead to 4-3, Francona handed the ball to closer Cody Allen.
Just one night earlier, Allen had given up a run in the ninth but survived the late scare to pick up a save in New York.
"In those situations," Francona said, "especially when they're running all those left-handers up there, that's the guy you want in the game. Again, I thought that was a save in the eighth inning."
Allen issued a leadoff walk but got Stephen Drew to fly out to end the eighth, and then he turned in a clean ninth to seal the victory.
"This Yankee team," Crockett said, "they kind of get things going and they hit a stride, if you let them. It was good to shut them down right there."