With a runner at third base, Wise raced toward the left-field line and paid some homage on Derek Jeter's 38th birthday, entering the seats just as the captain did eight summers ago at the old Yankee Stadium.
Wise didn't emerge bloodied in pursuit of Jack Hannahan's popup, instead tumbling over a short fence as the ball glanced off his glove and fell into the seats. Third-base umpire Mike DiMuro didn't see it that way, calling Hannahan out to end the inning.
"I'm not going to argue with [DiMuro]," Wise said. "It was a tough angle for him. Stuff like that happens. They're not perfect. He said, 'Out' right away, so what was I supposed to do? Run back to left field? I ran off the field."
DiMuro acknowledged he'd blown the call, telling a pool reporter, "In hindsight, I should have asked him to show me the ball, since he fell into the stands and out of my line of vision."
The play provided a subplot to a game in which Curtis Granderson drove in two runs and Alex Rodriguez homered, helping the Yankees (45-28) maintain the best record in the Majors.
Catch or no catch, New York's fourth straight win wouldn't have been possible without a sharp effort from Hughes, who blanked Cleveland on six hits to post his fourth victory in his last five starts.
"My fastball was good; I threw some good curveballs when I needed to," Hughes said. "That's the first time I've ever seen an all-left-handed lineup before, and I'm pretty comfortable with my fastball going in to lefties. I did that a lot, and things worked out."
Struggling reliever Cory Wade entered in the ninth and allowed all four of the Tribe's runs on four hits, including a three-run homer by Jose Lopez. Rafael Soriano recorded the final out on two pitches to record his 16th save in 17 chances this year.
The Yankees hit Cleveland starter Justin Masterson for four runs in six innings. After unabashedly using the long ball to power most of their recent hot stretch, the Yankees scored three second-inning runs against Masterson without the help of a homer.
"We had some big hits by some guys," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Masterson's sinker is crazy. The thing is moving all over the place. Guys are shaking their heads. Righties are saying, 'Come on, lefties.' It comes in on the right-handed hitters. He's a tough guy to hit, so for us to manufacture some runs was pretty impressive."
Stewart dented Hannahan's glove at third base for a run-scoring single, and Granderson singled to knock home another two runs.
Mark Teixeira lifted a fifth-inning sacrifice fly, and Rodriguez finally cranked the Yankees' obligatory home run in the seventh, connecting to left field off Cleveland reliever Tony Sipp.
Hughes was forced to pitch out of a tough spot in the sixth by recording back-to-back swinging strikeouts of Jason Kipnis and Carlos Santana, but his biggest assist in a one-walk, four-strikeout performance came with gratitude to Wise's acting abilities.
Wise never actually had possession of the ball, which was retrieved by Vinnie Pellegrino of West Islip, N.Y., but the Yankees got away with a fast one since DiMuro never asked to see it.
"Normally when a guy makes a play like that, that's the first thing they're saying," Wise said. "I guess he was confident I made the catch. It was a tough angle for him, but truthfully, the ball popped out."
Pellegrino said he tried to stuff the ball into Wise's glove before DiMuro arrived but couldn't. Wise kept his glove pressed to his body as he dashed off the field and may have been one of only two people in the Stadium who knew they'd pulled it off.
"He didn't have the ball that we had," Pellegrino said.
Hannahan was fooled -- at least, until he saw a replay between innings. The play sparked an argument with DiMuro before the bottom of the eighth, and Hannahan was ejected.
"I can live with the fact that he didn't see him drop the ball, or live with the fact that he didn't see the fan jumping up and down two feet away, excited he got a foul ball," Hannahan said. "But to not ask him to see the ball is absolutely inexcusable."
Wise darted down the runway in the first-base dugout to review the phantom catch, laughing at the television screen. He returned with a gift for the fans, paying it forward for their helpful act.
"I threw a ball over there a couple of innings later," Wise said, flashing a grin. "They already had one."