Final

Series: Game 1 of 3

Cleveland leads 1-0 (as of 8/31)

Game 1: Tuesday, August 31
Cleveland22Final
NY Yankees0
Game 2: Wednesday, September 1
Cleveland3Final
NY Yankees5
Game 3: Thursday, September 2
Cleveland1Final
NY Yankees9

Indians 22

(67-66, 27-38 away)

Yankees 0

(81-50, 43-19 home)

7:05 PM ET, August 31, 2004

Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York 

123456789 R H E
CLE 333061006 22 22 1
NYY 000000000 0 5 0

W: J. Westbrook (12-6)

L: J. Vazquez (13-8)

Vizquel's six hits tie AL record

NEW YORK (AP) -- With an epic defeat, the New York Yankees' hold on first place in the AL East became increasingly tenuous.

Omar Vizquel got six hits to tie the American League record for a nine-inning game and the Cleveland Indians routed New York 22-0 Tuesday night in the largest loss in the 101-year history of the Yankees.

Worst Yankees Losses
Aug. 31, 2004: Cleveland 22, Yankees 0
July 29, 1928: Cleveland 24, Yankees 6
June 17, 1925: Detroit 19, Yankees 1
July 9, 1987: Toronto 20, Yankees 3

Cleveland matched the largest shutout win in the major leagues since 1900, set by Pittsburgh against the Chicago Cubs on Sept. 16, 1975.

"It's obviously embarrassing," Yankees catcher Jorge Posada said in words repeated by several teammates.

Yankees owner George Steinbrenner watched his team fall in record fashion, then refused to answer questions as he left the ballpark. New York captain Derek Jeter left the clubhouse before reporters were allowed in.

Although many expected Steinbrenner to erupt Wednesday morning, the mercurial owner simply issued a reserved statement.

"Sure, we got punished badly last night, but winners never quit and quitters never win," Steinbrenner said. "New Yorkers never quit, and we reflect the spirit of New York."

Cleveland's runs total seemed to spin by on the scoreboard as fast as the symbols on a slot machine. New York's AL East lead, which stood at 10½ games on the morning of Aug. 16, was cut to 3½ games by Boston, which beat Anaheim 10-7 for its 19th win in 23 games.

"Sure, we're aware of where they are and what they're doing, but you can't lose perspective," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "It really wasn't much fun watching anything, our scoreboard or theirs."

Javier Vazquez (13-8) was knocked out in the second inning, Cleveland took a 15-0 lead in the fifth and Jody Gerut and Victor Martinez hit three-run homers off Esteban Loaiza in the ninth.

New York had never lost by more than 18 runs, falling 24-6 at Cleveland on July 29, 1928, and 19-1 at home against Detroit on June 17, 1925. Previously, the Yankees' biggest shutout loss was 15-0 to Chicago White Sox on July 15, 1907, and May 4, 1950.

"The way Cleveland played tonight, we'd better worry about Cleveland, not about Boston," Alex Rodriguez said.

Jake Westbrook (12-6) improved to 6-1 in his last nine starts, allowing five hits in seven innings. Jeremy Guthrie finished with hitless relief, extending the scoreless streak by Cleveland pitchers to 21 innings.

"It's good to see your offense do that," Westbrook said. "It's good for them. It's great for your team."

Cleveland, which had season highs for runs and hits (22), set a team record for largest shutout win, topping its 19-0 rout of Boston on May 18, 1955. The Indians stopped an eight-game losing streak at Yankee Stadium that dated to June 2001.

Vazquez, his faced bowed and wiping sweat off his face, walked off the field to boos after 1 1-3 innings, matching the shortest start of his career. Vazquez gave up six runs, and the Indians then scored seven off Tanyon Sturtze and three against C.J. Nitkowski.

"I thought I had good stuff today coming into the game," said Vazquez, 2-4 in eight starts following New York losses. "It's one of the worst games ever in my seven-year career."

Cleveland, which moved back over .500 at 67-66, scored three runs in each of the first three innings, then added six more in the fifth. Every Indians batter had scored by the fifth and the top eight batters in the order all had RBI.

Travis Hafner hit a three-run triple in the first inning, and Coco Crisp homered and drove in three runs. Vizquel and Martinez had four RBI each.

Vizquel had a chance for a seventh hit, but flied out in the ninth.

"Every at-bat, you try to do what fits the situation," he said. "I just happened to put the ball in play every time."

New York, booed early and often by the crowd of 51,777, has lost five straight home games for the first time since May 2003. Its season is beginning to resemble a mirror image of 1978 -- when the Yankees dropped to fourth place and trailed the Red Sox by 14 games after play on July 19, then rebounded to win the AL East in a one-game playoff.

The largest lead held by a team that failed to finish first was 11 games by the 1995 California Angels, according to the Elias Sport Bureau.

New York and Boston have a pair of three-game series left, at Yankee Stadium from Sept. 17-19 and at Fenway Park from Sept. 24-26.

Second baseman Miguel Cairo made a mistake in the first, when he picked up Matt Lawton's one-out grounder and threw to second, where he failed to get the out. Vazquez walked Martinez, gave up the triple to Hafner, and the rout was on.

Cleveland, which had lost 11 of 14 since moving within a game of AL Central-leading Minnesota on Aug. 14, began the night seven games behind the Twins.

"Our goal is to make a final run at this thing," Indians manager Eric Wedge said. "We're playing the teams we need to play to do it, and this certainly doesn't hurt."

Rodriguez tried to be philosophic about the defeat.

"It's one game," he said. "If we win 22-0, we're not going to get credit for three victories."

Game notes


The previous AL player with six hits was Detroit's Carlos Pena on May 27 at Kansas City. Jorge Orta had been the last Cleveland player with six hits in a nine-inning game, on June 15, 1980, against Minnesota. ... Vazquez also lasted 1 1-3 innings on April 14, 1998, for Montreal against Milwaukee.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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