CLEVELAND — — James Karinchak drummed on his chest, danced off the mound and nearly barreled over catcher Mike Zunino.
Even in April, beating the Yankees warrants a big celebration.
“Those are the moments you live for,” Karinchak said.
Shane Bieber shook off a rough first inning to pitch seven, Josh Naylor gave Cleveland the lead with a tiebreaking sacrifice fly and Karinchak worked out of a harrowing jam as the Guardians won 3-2 on Monday night in a rematch of last year’s AL Division Series.
Bieber (1-0) looked to be in trouble after giving up two runs and three hits to New York’s first four batters. But Cleveland’s ace settled in and retired 17 of 18 in one stretch. He allowed two runs and five hits.
Naylor, who became a target for New York fans during the playoffs for his “rock the baby” gesture after hitting a home run in Game 4, put the Guardians up 3-2 in the seventh with his liner off Ian Hamilton (0-1).
The Yankees were in position to tie it in the eighth when Gleyber Torres tripled leading off. But he was stranded at third by Karinchak, who after being called for a clock violation before his first pitch, retired Aaron Judge on an infield pop and then struck out Anthony Rizzo and Giancarlo Stanton.
“That was huge,” Bieber said. “An unbelievable inning. It was awesome, and I think it did a lot for us as a team.”
After fanning Stanton, the animated Karinchak pounded his chest and then the reliever bumped Zunino so hard that he knocked the mask off his catcher’s head.
“I’m happy I had gear on, that’s for sure,” joked Zunino. “I love it. Guys that play with emotion, guys that pitch with emotion, the key is to balance it. But that’s well deserved. That was a huge outing there.”
With Torres on third to start the eighth, Yankees manager Aaron Boone felt confident his team would tie it.
“Karinchak made some really good pitches,” he said. “We’ll take that situation. But he made some good pitches and sure got excited about it. We just gotta cash in the next time.”
Boone was asked if he had any problem with Karinchak’s enthusiasm.
“No,” he said. “That’s a big spot.”
Emmanuel Clase worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his third save as the Guardians got their fourth one-run win of this young season.
Zunino had three doubles and drove in a run for the Guardians, who were up 2-1 on the Yankees last October before being eliminated.
New York starter Domingo Germán walked five in three innings — the Yankees walked nine overall — and New York didn’t build off its early success against Bieber.
“I thought we did a good job being aggressive with Bieber, not spotting him anything there and Gleyber set the tone in that first inning,” Boone said. “That first inning could have very easily been a four- or five-run inning if the ball finds a hole.”
Judge went 0 for 3 with a walk, extending his on-base streak to 43 straight games, the longest for the Yankees since 2005. It’s also the third-longest on-base run for New York in the past 82 years, eclipsed only by Derek Jeter (57) and Alex Rodriguez (53).
With DJ LeMahieu getting a day off, Torres moved into the leadoff spot and got the Yankees going right away.
Torres doubled on Bieber’s first pitch and New York loaded the bases before Stanton ripped his two-run double — clocked at 116.3 mph — off the wall in left-center. Bieber, though, buckled down and got got three outs to avoid further damage.
“Probably a good thing that Stanton used a 2-iron, not a 4-iron because he hit that ball about as hard as you can,” Guardians manager Terry Francona said. “But then from there, Beebs was back to Bieber, which I don’t know how easy that is to make that transition, but he sure did it.”
The Guardians had a season-high four steals and lead the majors with 18.
Yankees: RHP Luis Severino (lat strain) threw a successful 22-pitch bullpen session as he continues to make progress. Severino said he threw all of his pitches, including a split-finger fastball he’s been working on. Boone didn’t have a timetable for Severino.
Guardians: RHP Aaron Civale (strained oblique) is back on the injured list for the fourth time in two seasons. Civale pitched well in his first two starts, but felt tightness following his outing on Friday and the club said imaging tests taken Monday showed the strain.
Yankees RHP Gerrit Cole (2-0, 0.73) faces the Guardians for the first time since beating them twice in last year’s playoffs. Hunter Gaddis (0-0, 3.72) starts for Cleveland.
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