Instead, Yankees newcomer Masahiro Tanaka started his big league career in style.
The defeat spoiled McGowan’s first start since September 2011. He allowed four runs and eight hits in 2 2-3 innings, walked one and struck out three.
McGowan (0-1) surrendered two runs and five hits in the first, running into trouble because he was tipping his pitches.
“I’ve got to fix that for sure,” McGowan said. “I knew something was wrong from the get-go.”
It was Cabrera’s first homer of the season and the second leadoff shot of his career.
Tanaka settled down to retire the next three batters, catching Jose Bautista looking at a curveball and getting Edwin Encarnacion to miss on a slider.
New York reclaimed the lead and chased McGowan (0-1) with a two-run third that was aided by an overturned call. McGowan thought he’d escaped a jam when Ichiro Suzuki was called out on an infield chopper, but Joe Girardi argued and the call was changed after replay review. Yangervis Solarte followed with a two-run double.
Tanaka looked comfortable the rest of the way, facing just one batter over the minimum in his final five innings. Encarnacion hit a one-out double in the third but was left stranded. He reached again on an infield single off Solarte’s glove to begin the sixth but was erased on a double play.