Sheldon Ocker

NEW YORK: Not even the most devout sabermetrician keeps track of home runs per minute.

Maybe that will change in the wake of the Indians’ 7-1 loss to the Yankees on Monday night.

The Bronx Bombers “only” hit three home runs off Josh Tomlin, but it seemed as if the entire barrage took no more than five minutes. Not that it mattered. The important part is that by the time the third inning was over, so was the game.

Tomlin lasted three innings and gave up six runs, two in each inning — kind of a neat way to package a regrettable performance. He didn’t even give up a home run in the first inning, when a walk to Curtis Granderson, a single to Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano’s double quickly put the Yankees ahead 2-0.

In the second, Eric Chavez singled with one out and Dewayne Wise drove a homer over the wall in right for two more runs and in the third, Cano and Nick Swisher went deep in consecutive at-bats after two were out.

Manager Manny Acta wisely cut his losses after Tomlin (3-5, 5.70 ERA) finished the third inning, figuring that he could get some practice time for Scott Barnes, called up earlier in the day from Columbus.

“Josh is better than that,” Acta said. “He showed it last year. But we can’t afford to have that [kind of pitching] unless we’re going to outslug people.”

Speaking of wise-ly, Dewayne Wise has been a part-time outfielder since 2000. From then until this season, he hit 22 home runs. His homer off Tomlin was his first since Sept. 25 of last year, when he played for the Blue Jays. The point is, when you give up a homer to Dewayne Wise, you know it’s not your night.

Tomlin has been erratic all season, almost alternating good and bad starts. This was his second start in the new Yankee Stadium, and he has given up 12 runs and 18 hits in eight innings.

“If you keep the ball down and make good pitches, it’s like any other park,” Tomlin said. “If you get the ball up in the zone, it doesn’t matter where you play.”

That said, home runs are the forte of the Yankees. They have hit 115 this season, including 37 in their past 20 games. Against the Mets over the weekend, 12 of their 14 runs came on homers. They are hitting home runs at such a prodigious pace, they have a chance to erase the club record for homers (244), set in 2009.

Why has Tomlin struggled this year after being so reliable in 2011, his first full season in the big leagues?

“I really have no idea,” he said. “If I did, I’d fix it.”

After 12 starts last year, Tomlin was 7-3 with a 3.71 earned-run average in early June. He missed almost three weeks worth of starts this season because of a wrist injury.

If Tomlin continues his inconsistency, what might happen?

“This is not like [Jeanmar] Gomez,” said Acta, referring to the young starter being sent to the minors Monday. “If Josh can’t work things out up here, he could do it in the bullpen. So we’re not thinking about that [sending him down].”

How could the Tribe offense cope with such a lethal attack by the Bombers? It couldn’t. For the ninth time in the past 13 games, the Indians scored no more than three runs. In seven of those games, they scored two or fewer.

This is getting monotonous. Worse, if it keeps up, it won’t be long before the Tribe needs the Hubble telescope to see the White Sox in its rear view mirror.

Monday night, the culprit was Yankee starter Hiroki Kuroda, and he’s not even left-handed. Kurada came into the game with a 3.57 earned-run average but only a 6-7 record. He held the Indians to five hits and one run in seven innings, walking two and striking out seven.

“Kuroda had a very good two-seam fastball,” Acta said. “And once he got two strikes, threw that split that just disappeared. He pitched a very good game. Regardless of the way we hit, he had good stuff.”

One thing might be in the Tribe’s favor: The White Sox visit Yankee Stadium for four games over the weekend.

Sheldon Ocker can be reached at socker@thebeaconjournal.com. Read the Indians blog at www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/SheldonOckerABJ and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sports.abj.