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NEW YORK -- Mitch Talbot was almost keeping up with Bartolo Colon, holding the Yankees to two runs in the sixth inning when he slipped while delivering a pitch and everything came apart.
His two-seam fastball went right into Alex Rodriguez’s backside, and Talbot was sent to the showers almost as quickly in Cleveland’s 4-0 loss to the New York Yankees on Saturday.
A day after the teams’ benches cleared when Yankees slugger Mark Teixeira was hit by a pitch, Talbot was tossed immediately by plate umpire Dan Iassogna after hitting Rodriguez.
“I mean this guy was throwing a great game. A 2-0 ballgame,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. “It was baffling to me that he made that decision.”
Talbot and Acta protested that Talbot didn’t do it intentionally even though it was shortly after Granderson homered, and Rodriguez’s first at-bat since he went deep himself.
“After the situation we had last night, and Alex hit a big home run last night and hit another home run today, and Curtis Granderson hit a home run last night and another one today, he threw the pitch directly at him,” Iassogna told a pool reporter.
Talbot said he told Iassogna that he slipped on the wet mound. A fine mist fell all afternoon.
I told him it’s wet. There’s a big hole in there,” Talbot said “I kind of landed on the side, slid in. It was a two-seam. If you’re going to hit somebody, you hit them with a four-seamer. You try to get it in there. It’s a tough break.”
Added Talbot: “He said ‘You slipped at the wrong time.’”
It was the sixth time a Yankees batter has been hit this homestand. Both Girardi and Rodriguez described the plunking as “fishy.”
“When is the right time to slip? With anybody else at the plate?” Acta said. “I mean so anybody else would have gotten it and no problem. I felt that that was uncalled for.”
Injustice or not, the Indians have bigger problems. They have lost 13 of 17, still clinging to first place in the AL Central for one more day, at least.
They got the tying run to the plate with nobody out in the eighth, but David Robertson struck out Michael Brantley, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Grady Sizemore to end the threat.
“It’s disappointing,” Acta said. “We had a couple of guys on. We had the right people up, guys that are swinging the bat good. We weren’t able to push one across. That’s the way things been going for us offensively.”
Colon (5-3) kept that from happening on Saturday. Famously traded in 2002 by the Indians for three minor leaguers who went on to become All-Stars, was working on a gem against his first big league team. He limped off in the top of the seventh after retiring Shin-Soo Choo covering first base.
The Yankees said Colon strained his left hamstring. He struck out six over 6 2-3 innings to win for the third straight start after two losses in his previous five. He lowered his ERA to 3.10, best among the Yankees’ starters.
After the game, he went to a hospital for an MRI.
“It’s not what you want, that’s for sure,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “He’s pitched extremely well, and we’ll kind of keep our fingers crossed.”
The Yankees made it 3-0 in the seventh when Jorge Posada singled into the right field corner. Choo had trouble coming up with the ball and Nick Swisher came home.
Teixeira homered off Vinnie Pestano in the eighth to make it 4-0.
A-Rod opened the scoring in the fourth inning with a line-drive shot into a strong wind blowing in from left field for only the second hit off Talbot (2-3). Granderson then hit his 20th homer of the season deep to right in the sixth.
The Indians have been shut out three times in their last seven games. Their slide began May 24 with a 4-2 loss to Boston that ended a four-game winning streak. They began that day with a seven-game lead in the division. Now it’s all but gone.
“Hopefully one of these days the offense will come alive again,” Acta said.
NOTES: In the second inning, the Yankees’ Robinson Cano hit a liner foul and it hit a police officer stationed in the photo well. He disappeared from view briefly, then reappeared to applause, and his fellow officer smacked him on the back as he triumphantly showed the ball. ... The Indians received Sizemore, Cliff Lee, and Brandon Phillips from Montreal in the 2002 deadline trade for Colon. ... Girardi promised on run of hit batters, “We’ll protect our own.” The teams play Sunday afternoon and Monday night to finish the four-game series.