CLEVELAND -- In a game of inches, sometimes the slightest miscues can lead to the most sizable differences.
Never to be confused with the Road Runner or Usain Bolt, Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli sprinted down the first-base line in the second inning on Tuesday, likely out of breath once he safely planted his foot on the bag. Whether he was huffing and puffing, he certainly breathed new life into what became an insurmountable five-run rally in the Yankees' 9-2 win over the Indians at Progressive Field.
Just as he did in his start on June 13, when he blanked New York for seven innings, Tribe starter Carlos Carrasco dug himself into early trouble. In the outing three weeks ago at Yankee Stadium, he loaded the bases to start the first inning before escaping unscathed.
Carrasco nearly pulled off another Houdini act. However, on this night, the Indians had little magic.
On a potential double-play ball with the bases loaded in the second inning, second baseman Cord Phelps bounced a throw in the dirt that first baseman Carlos Santana couldn't gather. There's no guarantee that even a perfectly aimed bullet would've retired Cervelli, and Phelps wasn't tagged with an error. But the miscue allowed Cervelli to reach base, as Nick Swisher raced home for the first run of the game.
"He didn't make a good throw," Tribe manager Manny Acta said. "It's a double-play ball, and we should turn it. We're all human and make mistakes, but we have to turn that one."
The Yankees would pile on.
Derek Jeter followed with a two-run double, his second hit of the night and the 2,996th of his sterling career. Curtis Granderson then yanked the first of his two home runs over the right-field fence. Before Carrasco could even let out a sigh about Phelps' short throw, he had surrendered five runs.
"I can't control all of that," Carrasco said. "I can [only] control my pitching."
The missed opportunity on defense notwithstanding, Acta wasn't pleased with Carrasco's inability to minimize the damage.
"We had an opportunity to get out of the inning," Acta said. "Unfortunately, we couldn't turn a double play. But we couldn't stop the bleeding, and it was way too much."
Carrasco didn't have the command he displayed in his five previous starts, when he posted a 4-1 record and 0.98 ERA while holding opposing hitters to a .172 batting average. Instead, he struggled to locate his fastball, walking Jorge Posada and Brett Gardner, the Nos. 7 and 8 hitters in the Yankees' lineup, before Cervelli inadvertently started the second-inning rally. Overall, Carrasco allowed six runs and 10 hits in four innings.
"Carlos didn't have very good fastball command," Acta said. "He ended up walking a couple of the guys at the bottom of the order, which is not very good to do against a lineup like that, because then you roll the lineup over and you get those dangerous guys up at the plate."
The night worsened on the Cleveland side in the third inning. While fielding a grounder in the hole at shortstop, Asdrubal Cabrera sprained his right ankle as he planted to throw to second base. The All-Star stayed in the game after a test jog on the outfield grass but was replaced by Lonnie Chisenhall when his spot in the order came up in the fourth inning. Cabrera is considered day to day.
No matter who stepped into the batter's box for the Indians, no hitter could solve Yankees starter CC Sabathia. The burly southpaw -- drafted by the Indians in 1998 -- hurled seven shutout innings, fanning 11 to notch his Major League-leading 12th win. Despite his gaudy numbers, Sabathia was not named an All-Star. Perhaps he took out his frustration on the Tribe's left-handed hitters.
"We don't match up very good with him," Acta said. "The majority of our hitters, especially the main guys, hit from the left side, and he's very tough against lefties."
Left fielder Michael Brantley went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. Sabathia struck out Chisenhall both times he faced the rookie. Grady Sizemore managed a double off his former teammate but also whiffed twice. Designated hitter Travis Hafner finished the night 0-for-4 with a strikeout.
"He bumps it up there at 94 or 95 [mph] whenever he wants to," Chisenhall said. "It's tough to see the ball off him."
Carrasco didn't have much success against lefties or righties. Aside from Cervelli, every New York starter had at least two hits, and eight of the nine Yankees hitters scored a run.
In the end, the Yankees' titanic second inning proved too much for the Indians to navigate past.
"That second inning pretty much did us in," Acta said. "That's too big of a lead for a guy like CC for us to overcome, especially the way he was throwing the ball."
Zack Meisel is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.