CLEVELAND — OK, it is time to take a deep breath and exhale. After getting shut out by Triston McKenzie and the Guardians 2-0 on Sunday at Progressive Field, the Yankees finally get a day off and a chance to catch their breath after 20 games in 20 days.

Triston McKenzie shut down the Yankees offense — allowing just one hit — for seven innings and the Guardians’ closer Emmanuel Clase worked out of a jam in the ninth to hand the Yankees (58-22) just their sixth shutout of the season.

The Bombers had already won the series, sweeping both ends of a doubleheader on Saturday, but with the win the Guardians avoided the embarrassment of going 0-6 against the Yankees for the season. The Yankees fell to 2-2 on this odd four-city, 10-game roadtrip with the loss to the Astros on Thursday, but maintained the best record in baseball.

The Bombers went 14-6 in that span that saw them face seven teams with winning records.

“I think we played good baseball,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “Obviously, we played a lot of good teams, including finishing here with the Guardians. It’s a tough stretch, some tough travels, some middle of the night situations, day games after night games. ….. I thought we played well through it and I know everyone’s probably looking forward to that day off. Hopefully, it’s a good reset and we recharge the batteries and get ready to go with the Pirates on Tuesday.”

Sunday was not the ending they were hoping for.

It simply came down to the fact the Yankees could not get much going against McKenzie.

He retired the first 10 Yankees he faced, before walking Giancarlo Stanton in the fourth. Josh Donaldson got the only hit off him — after Stanton’s walk. He struck out seven and walked just one.

“Their guy was really good,” Jordan Montgomery said of McKenzie. “He executed at the top of the zone for heaters  and then threw a curveball that just kind of ran into a guy.

“Still a good series, good to come out of here with a series win.”

The Bombers did try to rally in the ninth against Clase. Anthony Rizzo drew a lead off walk and then Stanton reached on an error. Josh Donaldson flew out to center and Gleyber Torres struck out. Aaron Judge, pinch hitting for Jose Trevino, worked a full count walk to load the bases before Hicks grounded out.

Clase kept them off balance by relying on his offspeed stuff instead of his fastball that can touch 101 miles an hour.

“Once you get to two strikes you gotta have that 101 (fastball) in the back of your head you don’t expect him to feel three sliders in a row,” Hicksa said. “I just gotta jammed trying to  hit the ball up the middle and got out.”

Montgomery was good, but not efficient. The lefty allowed one run on three hits and three walks. He struck out a season-high eight. Montgomery, who needed 30 pitches to get through the third, needed 94 to get through five innings. It was a strong bounceback after allowing nine earned runs over his last two starts (12.2 innings).

Franmil Reyes did the only damage against him, hitting a 384-foot homer into the left-field bleachers in the fourth inning. He went on to strike out the side that inning.

JP Sears, who returned Sunday to take the bullpen spot left when Ron Marinaccio went on the injured list Saturday night, allowed a run on three hits in 2.2 innings of work. He struck out one.

He got help from his defense in the eighth. After a lead off double to Steven Kwan followed by an Amed Rosario single, Gabriel Arias hit a grounder back to shortstop. DJ LeMahieu fired a throw to home where Jose Trevino tagged Kwan out. Then Trevino fired the ball to shortstop who got Arias in a run down before first baseman Anthony Rizzo  tagged him out.

That was it for Sears.

Reyes, in relief of Sears, singled off Albert Abreu on a ground ball to center to eventually drive in the Guardians’ second run. A Torres side-armed throw to first was wide on Owen Millers’ groundball to keep the inning alive.


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