NEW YORK -- By the time José Ramírez and the Cleveland Indians were finally done thrashing the Yankees on Thursday night, rookie designated hitter Mike Ford was at least enjoying a chuckle at his own expense on the mound for New York.
This one was a laugher from the get-go, but it might not seem so funny to the Yankees if they run into Cleveland come October.
Ramírez hit two early homers, including his first career grand slam in a seven-run opening inning, and the Indians pummeled New York 19-5 to start a four-game series between American League pennant contenders.
"This is the type of game that you remember," Ramírez said through a translator.
Carlos Santana also launched two home runs as the Yankees matched a franchise record by serving up seven. Greg Allen and Santana went back-to-back in a five-run eighth against Ford, the 2013 Ivy League pitcher and player of the year at Princeton.
A grinning Ford, throwing anywhere from 53-87 mph, then worked a 1-2-3 ninth and received a loud ovation from the scattered fans remaining from a crowd of 44,654, especially after he struck out Roberto Pérez looking to end the inning.
"I think the 53 mph pitch was the best pitch I threw," said Ford, who became the first Yankees position player to complete two innings on the mound. "I haven't done it in pro ball, so it's been a long time. I'm just out there to kind of have a good time at that point, get outs as quick as I can for everyone."
Ramirez, who equaled his career high with six RBIs, and Jason Kipnis smacked consecutive homers off ineffective opener Chad Green (2-4) in a top of the first that lasted 29 minutes.
Pérez added a two-run shot against Jonathan Loaisiga in Cleveland's biggest first inning since scoring eight times at Houston in April 2013. Loaisiga also gave up a two-run drive to the streaking Ramírez in the second.
"When he gets on a tear, it's one of the crazier things in the entire league to watch. He really just doesn't miss," Kipnis said.
Every starter for Cleveland had at least two of the team's 24 hits, its most since piling up 25 in April 2009 at Yankee Stadium. That made it an easy night for Adam Plutko (5-3), handed a 7-0 cushion before throwing a pitch as the Indians romped to their most lopsided victory of the year. He went six innings to beat the Yankees for the second time this season.
"You don't have very many nights like tonight, but you'll certainly take them," Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. "I thought one through nine we had a real good approach. We didn't get caught up in trying to hit the ball real far and because of that I think we were short to the ball and we end up hitting some balls out of the ballpark."
One day after becoming a United States citizen, Cuban defector Yasiel Puig had two hits, including a two-run single, in his return from a three-game suspension.
The last time the Indians hit seven home runs was in April 2013 against Philadelphia. They scored their most runs since plating 19 on July 11, 2018, against Cincinnati.
"Man, the guys came out swinging today. We put a lot of pressure on them," Pérez said.
Allen had four hits, four RBIs and four runs for the wild card-leading Indians, who have the best record in the majors since June 4. They began an eight-day stay in New York and remained a half-game behind first-place Minnesota in the AL Central.
Following this series, Cleveland gets a day off before playing three games against the Mets at Citi Field.
"We know they're a really good team and we've got to play our best to beat them," manager Aaron Boone said after the Yankees fell to 1-3 versus the Indians this season.
After beating up on some soft opponents lately, the Yankees began a stretch against tougher competition with a serious dud. They had their five-game winning streak snapped and lost for only the third time in 17 games.
Didi Gregorius, Gary Sánchez and Gleyber Torres homered for New York, which leads the AL East by 9½ games over Tampa Bay.
The Yankees had won nine straight home games, the longest streak in the American League this season.
REWRITING THE RECORD BOOK
The previous team to have every starter in the lineup produce a multihit game was the Los Angeles Dodgers at Minnesota in June 2011. The only other time the Indians accomplished the feat was in Boston on May 18, 1906.
OPEN AND SHUT
New York dropped to 12-2 when using an opener, 10-2 when starting Green. He had a 1.80 ERA over his first 11 outings in the role.
HOME RUN HISTORY
The Yankees also gave up seven homers against Boston on July 4, 2003. The 10 combined by both clubs marked the most in a New York home game and most in any contest involving the Yankees since 11 were hit in Detroit on June 23, 1950, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Indians: RHP Dan Otero (shoulder inflammation) and LHP Tyler Olson (shingles) are set to pitch in a minor league game Friday. ... RHP Carlos Carrasco, diagnosed in June with a treatable form of leukemia, plans to throw batting practice Friday at Class A Lake County. ... OF Bradley Zimmer (shoulder, oblique) will move from rookie ball in Arizona to Double-A Akron on his rehab assignment Tuesday. He has been sidelined all season. ... RHP Jefry Rodríguez (strained shoulder) is scheduled for a rehab appearance Friday in rookie ball. He has been out since June 2.
Yankees: RHP Luis Severino (right shoulder) threw his full repertoire with authority in a 30-pitch bullpen. He could face three batters in another session Sunday at Yankee Stadium before heading to Florida for a simulated game. ... RHP Dellin Betances (right shoulder impingement) also threw off a bullpen mound before the game. ... Slumping RF Aaron Judge flexed and squeezed his left hand after trying for a diving catch in the sixth. He stayed in the game. "I just felt it roll a little bit, but that was it," Judge said.
Indians: Rookie right-hander Aaron Civale (1-1, 1.00 ERA) makes his fourth major league start Friday night.
Yankees: RHP Masahiro Tanaka (8-6, 4.64) tossed eight innings of three-hit ball Sunday in a 1-0 win at Toronto.
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