BEN WALKER, AP Baseball Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — An hour after the final out, a pair of birds pecked for seeds in dead center field at Yankee Stadium and then seemed to settle into the lush grass for a nap.
Not like the New York hitters would’ve disturbed them much during the game, either.
The Yankees’ season-worst scoreless streak reached 19 innings Sunday before Jacoby Ellsbury ended it with a two-out home run in the ninth, their lone highlight in a 4-1 loss to the Cleveland Indians.
A day after Cleveland pitchers combined on a five-hit shutout and struck out 15 Yankees, Carlos Carrasco (4-4) and four relievers threw another five-hitter.
Why the sudden slump?
“Not really sure,” manager Joe Girardi said.
“We just didn’t swing the bats great today,” he said. “There are days that are just like that. You’ve been in the game long enough, you learn it’s going to happen and you deal with it.”
Ellsbury’s shot off Indians closer Cody Allen let the Yankees avoid a dubious distinction — not since 1999 had they been blanked in two straight games, STATS said.
“Hopefully we can go out and string some good at-bats together and take some pressure off the pitchers,” Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long said.
Jason Kipnis got three hits and scored three runs as the Indians finished 4-3 against their fellow AL wild-card contender — only twice in the last 22 years has Cleveland taken the season matchup.
Carrasco allowed just two singles in five shutout innings. He walked none, struck out four and retired his last 11 batters.
Pitching in place of the recently demoted Danny Salazar, Carrasco made his first start since being banished to the bullpen in late April.
Carrasco had gone 0-12 in 17 starts since 2011, and missed the 2012 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery.
Cleveland evened its record at 59-59 by taking advantage of a surprisingly shaky Hiroki Kuroda (7-8). Normally one of baseball’s best control pitchers, he walked a season-high four, hit a batter and threw a wild pitch.
Kuroda issued his first bases-loaded walk since he was a major league rookie in 2008, STATS said. Gomes drew that walk for a 3-0 lead in the fifth and added an RBI single in the seventh.
“He just wasn’t sharp with his split today and he battled,” Girardi said.
Indians: OF David Murphy (oblique) and DH-1B Nick Swisher (knee) went on the 15-day disabled list and OF Tyler Holt and INF-OF Zach Walters were promoted from Triple-A Columbus. Walters, acquired July 31 in the trade that sent shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera to Washington, started in left field in his Cleveland debut. Walters went 0 for 3 with a walk.
Yankees: 1B Mark Teixeira returned to the lineup after missing three straight games because of an injured left pinkie. He went 1 for 4.
Indians: In a scheduling quirk, Cleveland gets three off-days in the next eight days. The Indians host Arizona starting Tuesday night, with LHP T.J. House (1-3, 4.13) facing Diamondbacks RHP Josh Collmenter (8-6, 4.09).
Yankees: LHP Chris Capuano (1-2, 3.91) starts Monday night at Camden Yards as New York begins a six-game trip to AL East-leading Baltimore and division rival Tampa Bay. Capuano has pitched well since being acquired from Colorado last month, yet is winless in his last nine starts overall.
Ellsbury stole his 30th base, swiping second without a throw after a single in the Yankees first. He led the majors with 52 steals last year for Boston, and is a three-time AL stolen base champ.
Walters had a signed Derek Jeter jersey hanging in his locker after the game. Walters walked nine blocks — “those blocks are really long here,” he said — on Saturday night to buy the souvenir at a store, then got it autographed Sunday by the Yankees star he called “an idol.”
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