There will be a lot of breath-holding between now and the end of the regular season, as the Yankees try to make the playoffs.
Though the Yankees currently are in a tight battle with the Blue Jays and Red Sox for the two AL wild-card spots, they at least got to exhale for a bit on Friday, when they finally beat a team with ease.
A day after manager Aaron Boone knocked his team for its failure to add on to leads in what turned into an ugly extra-inning loss, the Yankees scored four runs in the seventh inning to put away the Indians in a 8-0 win at the Stadium.
It was capped by a three-run blast by Brett Gardner that made it 6-0, as the Yankees, for the second time in four games, matched a season-high with five homers — two of them by Joey Gallo.
They made sure not to waste another stellar performance from their rotation.
In just the Yankees’ fourth win by more than one run since Aug. 24, Corey Kluber gave them six shutout innings.
Kluber hadn’t pitched more than four innings since his no-hitter in Texas on May 19, but was able to turn back the clock against his former team.
It was a tight game early on.
DJ LeMahieu and Aaron Judge singled in the first to give the Yankees first and second with one out before Giancarlo Stanton grounded into a double play.
To open the second, Anthony Rizzo butchered a routine grounder to first by Bobby Bradley. Harold Ramirez followed with a liner to right that was caught by Judge, who fired to first to double up Bradley.
Gallo, in the bottom of the second, drilled a leadoff homer into the second deck in right to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead. It was Gallo’s fourth straight start with a homer, as he looks to find his groove as a Yankee.
In the third, Kluber allowed a leadoff single to light-hitting catcher Roberto Perez and then drilled light-hitting shortstop — and ex-Met — Andres Gimenez with an 0-2 pitch.
Kluber got Myles Straw on a 2-2 check swing for the first out. Bradley Zimmer flied to right before Rizzo made a nice play on a Jose Ramirez bouncer down the line for the final out to preserve the one-run lead.
Judge opened the bottom of the fourth with a homer to right-center, his 35th blast of the season.
Kluber ran into trouble again with the bottom of the order in the fifth, walking Perez and giving up a bloop hit to Gimenez — after getting ahead of both, 0-2.
But Kluber got Straw to hit into a double play, and with Perez at third, Zimmer grounded to second — both plays made by Gleyber Torres.
The Yankees threatened, but couldn’t score in the fifth.
Gio Urshela led off with a single and with one out, Kyle Higashioka hit one to the track in right-center, where it was caught by Straw.
Kluber got another double play in the sixth, started by LeMahieu at third and completed with a strong throw by Torres at second to just get Franmil Reyes.
Kluber was replaced by Michael King to start the seventh. King retired the side in order with some help from LeMahieu, who made a nice charging play on a slow grounder by Owen Miller for the second out.
King tossed two scoreless innings.
The Yankees got some much-needed insurance — again sparked by Gallo — in the seventh. Gallo led off the inning with a single and Torres walked, setting up Urshela. His RBI single to center made it 3-0 and forced Cleveland to go to its bullpen.
Gardner came up against Nick Wittgren and hit a three-run homer to right.
Stanton and Gallo hit back-to-back homers in the eighth before Lucas Luetge pitched the ninth.