It was as if Joe Girardi saw it coming.
Asked Friday about the Indians' strong rotation, certainly not one you'd expect to see on a last-place team, Girardi heaped praise, particularly on the night's starter, Carlos Carrasco.
"He's got a big fastball, he's got a very good split and he's got a slider and a curveball," Girardi said. "He's a four-pitch guy that has a number of ways he can get you to swing and miss."
The 28-year-old righthander then went out and did exactly that to Yankees hitters over 62/3 dominant innings, helping to send the Bombers to a 7-3 loss in front of 35,940 at the Stadium.
It was the Yankees' fourth loss in five games against the Indians.
"Those guys probably have one of the best collections of arms in the whole league," Brett Gardner said.
Said Girardi: "They've just given us trouble. The one thing about baseball, it doesn't always make sense, but they've pitched extremely well against us."
Carrasco (12-9, 3.53 ERA), who had a 1.36 ERA in his previous four starts, allowed one run and five hits and struck out 11. He struck out the side twice. The Yankees (67-54), whose lead over the Blue Jays decreased to a half game, struck out 13 times overall.
"He was on tonight, the last two times we've faced him," Brian McCann said of Carrasco.
The Yankees, trailing 4-1, did rally once Carrasco departed, scoring twice in the eighth against the Cleveland bullpen. Alex Rodriguez had an RBI single back up the middle to make it 4-2. McCann flied to center and Carlos Beltran flied to left, leaving it up to rookie Greg Bird. The first baseman, already with an RBI single, grounded one right through the legs of second baseman Jose Ramirez, the error making it 4-3. In came the closer, Cody Allen, who walked Jacoby Ellsbury to load the bases. Allen got Stephen Drew to fly to left to end the inning.
The Indians (57-64) seemed to be teetering but torched lefty Justin Wilson for three ninth-inning runs.
Masahiro Tanaka (9-6, 3.61), coming off a complete-game victory last Saturday in Toronto, ground through six innings. The righthander allowed four runs -- three earned as he was hurt by a big Brendan Ryan error -- and seven hits.
"You don't always have the same stuff," Tanaka said through his translator, adding later his primary issue was falling behind hitters. "The stuff I had in Toronto, I just didn't have it today."
The key inning might have been the fifth. Abraham Almonte led off with an infield single and Ramirez walked with one out. Drew saved, for the moment, a run with a diving stop of Jason Kipnis' ground smash to second. Francisco Lindor followed with a chopper over Tanaka's head that a charging Ryan bobbled, the error allowing Almonte to score to make it 2-1.
"Not really sure what to say," Ryan said. "Probably the easiest play you could possibly have and it cost us a run."
Carlos Santana led off the sixth and got a second life when McCann just missed coming up with a foul ball as he fell into the stands. Santana lined the next pitch a flat 95-mph fastball, into the seats in right for his 14th homer to make it 3-1.
"The ball was in my glove, I should have caught it," McCann said. "I should have made the play and didn't."
That kind of night.