CLEVELAND — Starting pitching was the chief concern for the Indians entering the 2013 season. It’s easy to see why.
With another poor effort from a member of the rotation Tuesday night, the Tribe was defenseless in a 14-1 throttling from the New York Yankees, who posted their largest margin of victory in Cleveland since 1931.
A night after Ubaldo Jimenez allowed seven runs, right-hander Carlos Carrasco matched that dubious total, surrendering seven hits (two home runs) over just 3 2/3 innings of his season debut -- and his first outing since Aug. 3, 2011.
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Carrasco, who overcame Tommy John surgery to make it back, raised the disappointment bar to a higher level than Jimenez, getting ejected after allowing his second homer of the game — a two-run shot from Robinson Cano that put New York in front 7-0 in the fourth — then hitting Kevin Youkilis with his next pitch, a high and inside offering that caught the back of Youkilis’ shoulder.
Ironically enough, Carrasco had just been activated after serving a six-game suspension for hitting Kansas City’s Billy Butler after surrendering a homer two years ago in his final outing.
Carrasco could be in line for another suspension, though he and the Indians are contending that he slipped as he released the ball.
“It didn’t look good. I understand the umpire’s viewpoint,” manager Terry Francona said. “I think if you look at the video, he slipped. If you’re on the other side, I understand it, but that’s what happened.”
Carrasco waited outside of Francona’s office to plead his innocence after the game.
“I know it didn’t look good,” Carrasco said. “I really want to say sorry. I don’t want to hit anybody. I came in from a six-game suspension. I didn’t want to do anything bad.
“I slipped. That’s the truth.”
The truth was the Indians got another dismal start that put them in an early hole.
Carrasco worked a scoreless opening inning, then got two outs on a double play in the second before the Yankees loaded the bases and scored four times on consecutive hits from Brett Gardner and Cano.
Carrasco got two outs again in the the third before allowing a solo shot to Ichiro Suzuki. He retired the first two hitters in the fourth before Cano’s two-run homer and his ejection.
“He had electric stuff out of the gate,” Francona said. “When we got to the two outs, the left-handers did some damage.”
Cleveland’s third starter Brett Myers was called on to relieve Carrasco and things got worse from there, with the right-hander allowing seven runs on 11 hits (three homers) over the final 5 1/3 innings.
Myers, who signed a one-year contract worth $7 million, has allowed 18 hits (seven homers) over 10 1/3 innings this season.
“Tonight was a difficult night to judge a starter, but he actually saved our bullpen,” Francona said.
New York has clubbed eight homers over the first two games of the series, with Cano torturing Tribe pitching — 7-for-10, with three homers, six runs and seven RBIs. Cano, a lifetime .333 hitter at Progressive Field, has hit safely in 11 straight games in Cleveland.
Pitching wasn’t a problem for New York, which got a sparkling outing from veteran left-hander Andy Pettitte.
Pettitte allowed a run on five hits over seven innings. He shut out Cleveland over the first five innings before Asdrubal Cabrera led off the sixth with his second homer.
“He got a lead and he knows exactly what to do with it,” Francona said of Pettitte, who has won his first two starts of the season while posting a 1.20 ERA.
The Indians trailed by eight runs Monday before rallying for three to make it respectable. There was no fight in them the following day.
“You have nights like this,” Francona said. “It’s no fun.”
With Myers unavailable to start today, the Indians are expected to go with Thursday’s scheduled starter, right-hander Zach McAllister. They would need a starter to take McAllister’s place Thursday, with the candidates including Triple-A Columbus right-handers Corey Kluber and Daisuke Matsuzaka. Cleveland would have to add Matsuzaka to the 40-man roster.