Carrasco escapes jam, pitches Indians past Yankees

NEW YORK (AP) — Pitch by pitch, Carlos Carrasco was getting himself into serious trouble. A single by Derek Jeter. Another by Curtis Granderson. A walk to Mark Teixeira.

Bases loaded, no outs, first inning, Yankee Stadium, Alex Rodriguez up. And then a most curious thing happened Monday night, for Carrasco and the Cleveland Indians.

Rodriguez hit a medium-depth fly and center fielder Michael Brantley caught it, seemingly ready to concede the run. But as Brantley held the ball, Jeter hesitated and never broke for home.

“I kind of say to Michael, ‘You’re not throwing the ball! Throw it! Throw it!'” Carrasco said.

Carrasco (6-3) went on to shut out New York for seven innings, pitching five-hit ball while striking out seven and walking three. The Yankees certainly had their chances at the start against him — of their first 14 batters, seven reached base. The 24-year-old righty set down 13 of his last 14.

“I thought that Carrasco gave us a terrific pick-me-up,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. “He started shaky with a lot of traffic out there, but I can’t say enough about the job that he did.”

Four innings later, Jeter took one step out of the batter’s box and clearly was in trouble. Noticeably limping, he left with a Grade I strain of his right calf. He has 2,994 career hits — the Yankees said they would determine the next step Tuesday, and they hope it’s not a trip to the disabled list.

“I’m worried about him,” manager Joe Girardi said. “Just keep our fingers crossed and hopefully it’s not too serious.”

The Indians had lost four in a row overall and were able to avoid a four-game sweep in the Bronx. They handed New York its first 1-0 loss in the three-season history of new Yankee Stadium.

Cleveland held its slim lead over Detroit in the AL Central going into a three-game series against the Tigers starting Tuesday night at Comerica Park.

Acta shuffled his batting order, putting Carlos Santana, Brantley and Asdrubal Cabrera into lineup spots where they’d never hit before. The Indians had totaled only 21 runs while losing nine of 10, and managed to scratch out just enough to win.

“It’s just a matter of getting a couple more guys involved in our offense like we were a couple of weeks ago,” Acta said.

Brantley tripled off the glove of diving right fielder Nick Swisher in the fourth and Cabrera bounced an RBI single to left field. That go-ahead grounder stopped the Indians’ 0-for-20 drought with runners in scoring position.

Carrasco won for the fifth time in six starts. At the beginning, it looked as if he might not make it out of the first inning.

“I was hoping he would get out of it, because if he doesn’t make it through the fifth inning, it’s going to be tough. It’s going to put our bullpen in a tough spot going into Detroit,” Acta said.

“But that was the inning of the game, basically,” he said.

Acta said he didn’t figure Brantley was baiting Jeter by double-clutching before making a throw.

“I think Michael was just trying to make sure that if Granderson went to third, he would throw the ball to third. There’s no deking. I mean, you have to get the ball back into the infield,” he said. “Actually, it was kind of a weird play. We were kind of screaming from the dugout, ‘Just throw the ball in. Throw the ball in.’ For some reason, he didn’t throw the ball very well.”

Tony Sipp got two outs in the eighth, retiring Teixeira on a flyball up against the right-center wall, and reliever Vinnie Pestano ended the inning. Chris Perez struck out the side in the ninth for his 16th save in 17 chances.

Girardi said he thought Jeter was merely being cautious in the first inning. Perez, meanwhile, was wondering how Carrasco would escape.

“That first inning set him up for the rest of the game. That was huge. The first three guys get on and you’re facing A-Rod and nobody out and the bases loaded and gets out of that without any runs,” Perez said.

“I think it’s a big step in his career, actually,” he added.

A.J. Burnett (6-5) rebounded from a battering by Boston and took the hard-luck loss. He gave up five hits in 7 2-3 innings, walked one and struck out eight.

NOTES: Major League Baseball said it is still reviewing whether Cleveland RHP Mitch Talbot should be penalized for plunking Rodriguez on Saturday. … Indians slugger Travis Hafner (strained right oblique) will begin a rehab assignment at Double-A Akron on Tuesday if he feels OK. … The Yankees’ previous 1-0 home loss was Aug. 1, 2008, against the Angels.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.