Brantley’s 200th Hit, Carrasco’s Ten K’s Not Enough; Rays 2, Indians 0
Bob Toth | On 27, Sep 2014
It was business as usual for the Cleveland Indians on Saturday night, as a strong starting pitching effort was wasted by defensive blunders and an absence of offense as the Tampa Bay Rays completed a 2-0 shutout.
In the first game since being mathematically eliminated from the postseason Friday night by an Oakland win, the Indians took the field looking towards the future while taking care of a little business in the present.
Carlos Carrasco took the mound for one final time, one of the biggest bright spots and resurgence stories on the club or even around the league. He would not disappoint, but both his offense and defense came up short again, just as it had done five days prior when Carrasco publicly criticized his teammates.
After a 2-0 loss to Kansas City in his last start in arguably the biggest game of the season for the Tribe, Carrasco was open and honest in his postgame interview.
“Everything was good. Everything was perfect right there. We should have made those plays right there,” Carrasco said on Monday night following the tough loss. “It cost me two runs. I thought they had a pretty good chance of making those plays, but sometimes we don’t make them and it costs us runs.”
A liner off of the bat of Eric Hosmer glanced off the glove of first baseman Chris Gimenez, who has spent the bulk of his career behind the plate and in the outfield, in the first inning to score a run. A hard hit ball in the fifth to shortstop Jose Ramirez scored the second and final run.
Carrasco has since apologized.
He came out firing on all cylinders on Saturday, just as he has done since being reinserted into the starting rotation in August. He was a businessman on the mound, striking out a pair in the first and striking out three in the second after a leadoff walk. He breezed through an eight-pitch third inning.
The Indians missed a chance to plate a run in the first after a one-out bunt single by Ramirez against Rays rookie Alex Colome. Ramirez stole second and moved to third on a flyout to center by Michael Brantley, but Carlos Santana struck out swinging to strand the Indians youngster 90 feet from the plate.
The Rays struck through in the fourth inning and, as has been the case for the bulk of the season, it was courtesy of the error. David DeJesus reached on an infield single to short. He moved all the way to third as Lonnie Chisenhall committed another error at the hot corner, putting Evan Longoria on at first on the fielder’s choice. James Loney struck out, the sixth of the game by Carrasco, but Wil Myers delivered the RBI-single to right to score DeJesus to give the Rays a 1-0 lead. Carrasco, unable to rely on his ever-shaky defense, buckled down and struck out Nick Franklin and Matt Joyce on seven total pitches to end the threat with Longoria stranded on third.
Brantley reached base in the fourth inning with a one-out single to center, giving him his 200th hit on the season, but was erased on an inning-ending double play. The Indians put two on in the fifth on a two-out walk by Jason Giambi and a single by Chisenhall, but Mike Aviles struck out on three pitches to end the inning.
Brantley’s single put him in elite company. It was the 18th time in club history that a player has reached the 200-hit plateau in a season. It is the first time since Kenny Lofton had 210 hits in 1996 and just the second such season in the history of Jacobs Field/Progressive Field. He becomes the first player in Indians history to have 200 hits, 20 homers, 20 stolen bases, and 40 doubles in a season and just the eleventh player in Major League history to do so.
“In my opinion, regardless of where he ended up, you could see the way our dugout reacted, how pleased everybody was. It is a pretty big milestone,” said Indians manager Terry Francona. “Guys show up every day and to get that number, it wouldn’t have mattered one bit in our opinion, but it is very nice that he’s able to get the recognition of all that work. What’s probably the topper, as good a player that he is, I don’t think it touches the kid he is. That makes it even more special.”
Colome (2-0) left in the seventh after retiring one batter. He did not allow a run to score and gave up just four hits and a walk while striking out six. It was his second scoreless effort in the month of September and the six strikeouts were a season-high for the young right-hander.
The Rays tacked on an insurance run in the eighth after a leadoff single by Ben Zobrist. He stole second and moved to third on a groundout by DeJesus. After a groundout by Longoria for the second out, Francona went to the bullpen, sending in Marc Rzepczynski in relief of Carrasco. The matchup did not work in favor of the Indians, as Loney singled Zobrist home with a groundball up the middle. Aviles’ throw to Santana at first was in the dirt and blocked by Santana, allowing the run to score from third to make it a 2-0 game.
Carrasco (8-7) was on the receiving end of another tough luck 2-0 loss. In fact, his last three outings and four of his last five have all seen 2-0 scores, but he was on the receiving end of wins in the other two. He was charged with two runs, one earned, on four hits while walking three in seven and two-thirds innings. He struck out ten batters on the night, giving him 31 strikeouts over his last three starts and three ten-plus strikeout performances in the month of September. He falls to 5-3 in his time back in the rotation.
Lefty Jake McGee came on in the ninth for the save and closed it down, completing the 2-0 shutout. He struck out Brantley, Santana, and Yan Gomes swinging for his 19th save of the year. It was the fourth K of the game for Gomes, who earned the golden sombrero for his efforts.
“Tonight’s another example where, the runs he gave up, the first run was an infield hit. We get a double play ball, throw it away. It’s first and third, nobody out, they haven’t hit the ball out of the infield,” said Francona about Carrasco’s outing tonight. “He limits them to one run, throws 19 pitches, and then continues on.
“That speaks volumes in itself, his ability to continue to pump the strike zone, with all his pitches, not back down, that’s exciting. He has so much to be excited about going into the offseason and into the next year.”
The Indians announced prior to the game that second baseman Jason Kipnis would be sidelined the rest of the season with his hamstring injury.
It was the Rays’ 22nd shutout victory of the season. Tampa has now appeared in 40 games that have ended in shutouts this year.
T.J. House will replace Danny Salazar as Sunday’s season finale starting pitcher. House (4-3, 3.43 ERA) has won back-to-back starts for the first time in his Major League career and has won three straight decisions overall, earning three straight no-decisions from August 26th to September 5th. Alex Cobb (10-8, 2.75) will return to the Cleveland mound almost a year after ending the Indians’ season in 2013 in the American League Wild Card playoff game. It will be his first start against the Tribe since that postseason appearance. He earned the win in his last start, allowing a run on five hits in a victory over the Boston Red Sox.
Game time is scheduled for 1:05 PM. Follow all of the action on Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio, the radio affiliates of the Cleveland Indians Radio Network, and after the completion of the game here at Did The Tribe Win Last Night.
Photo: AP Photo/Tony Dejak