CLEVELAND -- The relatively good news about Masahiro Tanaka -- that the New York Yankees believe he can rehab his partially torn UCL without Tommy John surgery -- arrived during the fifth inning of Thursday's game, when the Yankees were leading 3-0.
But instead of having an uplifting effect on the team, the Yankees' fortunes went steadily downhill from there. Two innings later they were down by a run, and an inning after that they were on the wrong end of a 9-3 debacle. Not the way you want to head into a three-game series against the team you are chasing, the Baltimore Orioles, at Camden Yards this weekend.
No help for Phelps: David Phelps worked with runners on base in five of the first six innings but escaped damage every time. That is, until the seventh inning, when he allowed a single to the first two batters and was pulled by Yankees manager Joe Girardi in favor of Matt Thornton. How did that work out? Not well (see below).
Triple threat: Asdrubal Cabrera wiped out a 3-0 Yankees lead with one swing of the bat in the seventh inning, tripling with the bases loaded off Thornton. Cabrera then came home to score the go-ahead run on Michael Brantley's sacrifice fly. Two of the runs were charged to Phelps and two were charged to Thornton, who had not allowed a run since May 20, a string of 19 scoreless appearances totaling 12⅓ innings.
Kid Dynamite: In his major league debut, Indians catcher Roberto Perez collected his first big league hit in the seventh, scored his first big league run on Cabrera's triple later in the inning, and belted his first big league home run off Jim Miller with a man aboard in the eighth, although he had to wait an agonizing 2 minutes, 27 seconds while the umpiring crew reviewed the play, which was originally scored a double. But replays showed the ball had struck above the yellow home run stripe that runs along the top of the fence, and the homer extended the Tribe's lead to 6-3.
Gettin' ugly: Girardi left Miller out there after the Perez home run, and the Tribe piled on, adding a single by Jason Kipnis, a rocket off the bat of Brantley that hit Jeter in the heel of the glove hand and went for an RBI single, and a long home run by Carlos Santana that made it 9-3 Cleveland. Miller then walked Lonnie Chisenhall before finally getting David Murphy on a line out to mercifully end a five-run, five-hit, two-HR inning.
Cleaning house: The Yankees chased Indians starter T.J. House with two outs in the fifth inning, the final blow being Yangervis Solarte's RBI single that drove in Francisco Cervelli from second. It was the first big league RBI for Solarte, who was just recalled to the big club after spending a week in Triple-A, since a pinch-hit single on June 23. The Yankees collected eight hits off House, a 24-year-old rookie left-hander making just his eighth major league start.
Wheels up: The Yankees got on the board in the fourth when Zelous Wheeler, playing his first-ever major league game in right field, pumped a 2-2 fastball from House onto the platform just inside the left-field foul pole with Francisco Cervelli (single) on base. It was Wheeler's second home run -- he hit his first in his second big league at-bat -- in 16 at-bats since being called up from Triple-A Scranton.
Tough Knight: Plate umpire Brian Knight took a foul tip off the bat of Cabrera right on the chin in the eighth inning and dropped to his knees. But the ump soon shook it off and finished the game.
Next! It's an overnight flight to Baltimore followed Friday by the opener of the final series before the All-Star break, a three-game set against the first-place Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards.