CLEVELAND -- Fans did not need to look up at Progressive Field's large scoreboard to figure out that the Indians were suffering through a blowout on Sunday afternoon. A glance toward left field in the sixth inning, well below the big board, sufficed.
That is where Carlos Santana -- Cleveland's regular catcher and part-time first baseman -- was suddenly playing in the Tribe's 14-1 loss to the Red Sox. Such developments either take place when a team is overrun with injuries or laboring through a laugher.
In this case, it was the latter.
"Fourteen to one," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "I'd rather do that than have a position player pitch."
Against a resurgent Red Sox lineup, Indians rookie Corey Kluber could not escape the fourth inning and reliever Josh Tomlin continued his season-long struggles. Complicating matters was a gem of a start from Boston lefty Jon Lester. The result was a split of the four-game set with Boston.
Considering Cleveland headed into the series having lost 11 of its previous 12 games, it was a decent enough homestand.
The Indians will wait, however, to learn if they lost more than just the game.
While the Indians head to the West Coast for a nine-game trip through Los Angeles, Oakland and Seattle, Tomlin is scheduled to have his right elbow examined in Cleveland. In all likelihood, the pitcher will wind up on the 15-day disabled list while the Tribe tries to determine what is ailing his throwing arm.
Tomlin said his elbow -- the same one that ended his season in late August a year ago -- has been hurting off and on for more than a month. It has been troublesome at least since late June, when he sported a sleeve on his elbow after his June 30 road start against the Orioles.
"I felt like I could go out there," Tomlin said. "It wouldn't hurt every single day, but there were days it did hurt. That was kind of mind-boggling to me, why it felt good some days and why it hurt the other days. It's time to get it checked out and see what it is."
Against the Red Sox, Acta was hoping to get a handful of innings from Tomlin -- moved to the bullpen last month due to his pitching woes -- after Kluber surrendered six runs in 3 1/3 innings. Instead, Tomlin labored, allowing seven runs on six hits, helping Boston run to a 14-1 lead by the fifth.
"We thought he was going to be able to pick up a few innings to save our bullpen," Acta said. "Unfortunately, he pitched behind in the count, which he can't afford to do. He was up and out over the plate and they hit him around."
On the season, Tomlin is 5-8 with a 6.36 ERA through 21 appearances, which is a far cry from his impressive showing (12-7, 4.25) in his first full season in 2011. Consider, though, that Tomlin has gone 7-11 with a 6.00 ERA in his most recent 153 innings, dating back to last July. He went 10-4 with a 3.81 ERA in his first 115 2/3 innings last year.
"Usually," Acta said, "when a guy's not 100-percent healthy, that's when the command goes away a little bit. He's going to be checked out by a medical staff."
Boston's relentless offensive attack -- the club churned out 16 hits, including eight for extra bases -- in the first five innings against Kluber, Tomlin and Frank Herrmann was more than ample in backing a strong effort Lester. The lefty struck out 12 in his six innings and scattered just three hits.
Lester's 12 strikeouts were the most by a Boston pitcher this season and equaled the most by a starter this year against Cleveland. Seattle ace Felix Hernandez also fanned 12 Tribesmen on April 19, but he needed eight innings to pile up that total.
Kluber was swiftly pounded in his abbreviated appearance, which included a two-run home run from Adrian Gonzalez (first inning) and a two-run double from Carl Crawford (second). Crawford collected three doubles and three RBIs in the game before exiting in the fifth for some well-earned rest.
"Kluber just didn't have command of his fastball," Acta said. "It was up in the zone. Everything was up. He didn't establish it and he wasn't able to use that swing-and-miss slider that he has. It put us in a bind there."
Cleveand's lone run against Lester came in the first, when Jason Donald led off with a single and moved to third on a base hit from Asdrubal Cabrera. Santana -- in the lineup as the first baseman at the start of the game -- later delivered a sacrifice fly that plated Donald, cutting Boston's lead to 3-1 at the time.
From there, the rout was on.
"It was catch-up baseball from the get-go," Acta said. "It's not fun at all when you have to come up to the plate and you're already trailing by three, four, five runs. By the fifth or sixth inning, the strategy is, 'How are you going to get the rest of the innings without using your main guys?'"
Acta also tried to find a way to rest others.
With the game out of hand in the sixth, the manager pulled right fielder Shin-Soo Choo and shifted Shelley Duncan from left to right field. Acta kept outfielder Michael Brantley on the bench, and sent Santana to left field for his first career appearance in the outfield.
"It was Brantley's day off," Acta said. "I wasn't going to put Michael out there."
It was the kind of romp Cleveland hopes to soon forget.