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Looking Back: Carrasco Gets Within One Strike of Tribe’s First No Hitter in 34 Years

Looking Back: Carrasco Gets Within One Strike of Tribe’s First No Hitter in 34 Years

| On 02, Dec 2015

Tampa Bay’s Joey Butler had 71 hits and 30 RBI this past season. That was one too many of each, as far as Carlos Carrasco, the Cleveland Indians, and Tribe fans are concerned.

On July 1, Carrasco was one out, one strike, from doing what seemed to be the impossible in Cleveland. He was that close to becoming the first Indian to throw a no-hitter since Len Barker‘s perfect game on May 15, 1981.

Carrasco was looking to rewrite the Tribe’s history books that had remained unchanged in the no-hit category for more than 34 years. The Tribe had gone longer than any team in Major League Baseball without a starting pitcher accomplishing the feat with the exception of the San Diego Padres, who have yet to accomplish it since their inception in 1969.

There Carrasco stood, with an 0-2 count on Butler with two out in the ninth. Runners were on first and third thanks to a walk and a hit batter. Carrasco fired his pitch and Butler laced a line drive just over the glove of a leaping Jason Kipnis. Kipnis did all he could to get in the air and grab it. He came up just short, as the ball landed in the outfield grass, ending Cookie’s bid at the no-no.

The hit scored Asdrubal Cabrera from third, ending the shutout as well. Carrasco exited, going 8 2/3 frames, walking two batters, striking out 13 and allowing the one hit and run. The Indians won the game 8-1.

Cleveland had several no-hit bids go late into games in 2015, but this was the closest someone had come to actually joining Barker in Tribe lore.

Carrasco was actually working on a perfect game for much of that evening in Tampa. He had not allowed a base runner through the first 6 1/3 innings. Oddly enough, the try for perfection ended in a Butler at bat when Carrasco walked him.

The next batter, Evan Longoria, grounded into a double play. Carrasco had actually faced the minimum number of batters as he headed into the game’s final stanza at Tropicana Field.

It did not seem, at the start of the ninth, that the no-hitter would get as close as it did. Carrasco began the inning walking Cabrera and hitting Brandon Guyer. It appeared Cleveland’s No. 2 starter was tiring and slowly starting to unravel a bit. Perhaps the mounting pressure was getting to him.

However, Carrasco rebounded to get the next two batters out. Former Indian Grady Sizemore grounded into a fielder’s choice and Kevin Kiermaier struck out. Carrasco seemed to have his good stuff back and a no-hitter was once again a reality before Butler changed the path of history.

Carrasco has to be commended for the game he threw.  He was dominant for nearly all of it and simply tired at the end. He threw 124 pitches – quite a bit in today’s game.

July 1 was the high point of what was really a season of highs for Carrasco. He signed a long-term deal with Cleveland after a break out second half of the 2014 campaign. For the most part, he lived up to his new deal and billing as the Tribe’s second-best starter. He was 14-12 with a 3.63 ERA.

When Carrasco is on, he has some of the best stuff of all of Cleveland’s pitching staff and perhaps all of baseball. That night, the first one of July, Carrasco was truly on and quite special. It certainly had to be disappointing for the Indians hurler to not have finished the accomplishment he was oh-so-close to attaining. However, it would not be a shock to see 28-year-old, who will be 29 in March, have future chances at no-hitters and perfect games. Chances are this will not be his lone dance with a historic outing.

As far as the team is concerned, the Indians may not be far off from erasing Barker’s name as the most recent to not allow a hit. With the likes of Carrasco, Corey Kluber and Danny Salazar each dealing ace-like pitches on many nights, it feels as though someone is bound to sit a team down in order 27 straight times or at least not allow a base hit.

For a brief moment, Indians fans got to feel what it is like to cheer for the final moments of a no-hitter. Oddly, Tampa fans did as well. The fans in Tampa were actually cheering for Carrasco to get the no-no. Perhaps with their team down 8-0, why not witness a bit of history?

History was not made that night, If only Butler had settled for 70 hits and 29 RBI this year.

Photo: Brian Blanco/Getty Images

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