Carrasco Terrific in Tampa Again; Indians 4, Rays 1
Bob Toth | On 13, Apr 2016
Carlos Carrasco returned to the scene of his near no-hitter last season and gave Cleveland eight innings of one-run ball as the Indians defeated the Tampa Bay Rays by a 4-1 final on Wednesday night.
Back near his Florida home but pitching with a bit of a stomach bug, Carrasco dueled with Tampa starter Drew Smyly and carried a one-hitter deep into the night before the Rays could scratch the scoreboard. Smyly was superb in his effort, but suffered from the Indians cashing in on the few opportunities that they were given.
After retiring the first nine in order, Smyly gave up a leadoff double in the fourth to Rajai Davis, who moved to third on a single from Jason Kipnis. A groundout to short by Francisco Lindor erased Kipnis, but Davis scored and the Indians had the early advantage. Mike Napoli nearly left the yard on a 2-1 pitch, driving a double to deep left to move Lindor to third. Both would score as Carlos Santana lifted a fly to shallow right; second baseman Logan Forsythe made the catch and attempted to frantically throw home to prohibit Lindor from scoring, but his throw sailed past the plate and out of play, allowing Napoli home plate on the advancement.
The Tribe shortstop may have given some a scare when he limped briefly leaving the home plate area after he scored, as it appeared that Rays catcher Curt Casali came down on Lindor’s foot when leaping for the throw. Lindor remained in the game and his hustle throughout led all to believe his foot and/or ankle were okay.
Carrasco had retired the first ten in order before a single by Logan Morrison in the fourth. He would allow a walk to Desmond Jennings in the fifth and then would retire nine straight until the bottom of the eighth, when Brad Miller notched the second hit of the game with a single to right to lead off. After a groundout and fielder’s choice, Casali doubled to deep center to score Kevin Kiermaier from first base. The Rays nearly cut the Indians lead in half, but Davis fielded a single from Forsythe in left and threw out Casali at the plate, thanks to a nice play from catcher Yan Gomes and the confirmation of the replay by the umpires.
The Indians had padded their lead in the top half of the eighth on a deep solo blast to right field by Kipnis off of reliever Erasmo Ramirez.
Cody Allen pitched the ninth, allowing a base hit to Corey Dickerson with two outs and throwing nine pitches to Jennings before striking him out to end it. It was the second save of the season for the Tribe’s closer.
The Indians climb back to the .500 mark with the win and are now 3-3. The Rays fall to 3-5.
Carrasco’s stellar start continued a stretch of dominance against the Rays. Last season, he allowed four earned runs on eleven hits in 15 1/3 innings in two starts against Tampa, striking out 18 and walking two. He took a no-hitter to within one final strike in one of those outings.
On Wednesday, he worked eight innings, giving up one run on four hits with eight strikeouts and one walk in eight innings.
“He used his fastball early. In and off of that, he threw a really good breaking ball,” said Indians manager Terry Francona. “He really pitched well and he needed to. Their guy really did a good job against us. We made the most off of five hits. There was a lot of swinging and missing tonight. We got the runs up on the board and then when Kip hit the solo to give you just a little more breathing room, it helps. I think Carlos did a really good job.”
THE MAGIC NUMBER IS FOUR
Under the watch of Francona, the Indians are 149-15 when scoring four runs or more.
MORE ON COOKIE
When he reached strikeout number five on the night, Carrasco (1-0, 3.46 ERA) extended his streak of starts with at least five Ks to 20 consecutive starts, the second longest streak in the Majors (58 – Clayton Kershaw) and the longest in the American League.
All of the offense came through the top half of the batting order. Each of the first four hitters scored a run and the top five, except Lindor, had at least one hit. Lindor made up for the missing hit by stealing third base with two outs in the top of the sixth, a decision that will probably come with a small chat from Francona.
“I’m not sure about stealing third with two outs,” said Francona. “We’ll work on that one, but as long as guys are hustling it’s easy to talk to him about it.”
WHO’S THAT GUY?
Rookie Tyler Naquin made a rare appearance in the Tribe’s lineup late, entering in the bottom of the seventh as a defensive replacement for Marlon Byrd, who was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts at the plate and had started in left field. Davis slid over to left and Naquin claimed center stage. In his fourth at bat of the season in the ninth inning, Naquin grounded to first to end the inning.
Carrasco and Allen ended the streak of 21 straight games with a homer for the Tampa Bay club.
NO SMILE FOR SMYLY
It was a tough loss for Smyly (0-2, 4.61), who had kept the Indians at bay in the Bay all game long. He worked seven innings on the mound and allowed three runs (two earned) on three hits with a walk and eleven strikeouts.
“It’s very exciting,” said Lindor, “knowing that we’re going to have good weather, a good temperature, here in the dome. It’s fun coming out here and playing and knowing that we’re going to play every day.”
Game time from Tropicana Field will be 1:10 PM ET on Thursday.
Photo: AP Photo/Steve Nesius