Tribe Bats Come Alive as Carrasco Throws Complete Game; Indians 5, Tigers 1
Bob Toth | On 11, Apr 2018
The Cleveland Indians racked up a season-high ten hits and Carlos Carrasco allowed just one run on three hits in a complete game gem over the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday night, 5-1.
Carrasco finally looked to be locked in on the mound after claiming wins in a pair of rough outings to start his 2018 season. Backed by a rare offensive outburst from the starting nine, the Indians (7-5) won their fourth straight game and secured their 14th consecutive series win over an American League Central rival.
The Tigers (4-7) have now lost three straight on the road to drop to 3-3 away from Comerica Park this season.
Detroit was able to strike quickly just two pitches into the game as Leonys Martin started the game with a double to left. After moving to third on a one-out groundout by Miguel Cabrera, he would advance no further as Carrasco got Nicholas Castellanos to ground to short as the middle of the Tigers lineup continued to leave runners in scoring position.
In the home half, the game changed dramatically for the Tigers. With Jason Kipnis at the plate and with a 2-2 count, he lined a four-seamer right back at Detroit right-hander Jordan Zimmermann. He was unable to shield himself and took the liner off of his right jaw, causing him to leave the game after just seven pitches (x-rays would be negative and he was diagnosed with a right jaw contusion). Daniel Norris, a left-handed pitcher with starting experience, came in on short notice and worked around his two-out walk of Jose Ramirez.
Both teams had quiet second innings and had a little base traffic in the third, but to no damage. Martin reached on a two-out infield single but was picked off of first by Carrasco to end the top half. Bradley Zimmer legged out an infield hit with one out in the bottom half, but he would be stranded at second.
The Indians broke through with a big four-run fourth to take the lead. Ramirez and Michael Brantley each singled to start the inning before a strikeout swinging by Edwin Encarnacion. Ramirez and Brantley pulled off a double steal to put both runners in scoring position and Yonder Alonso made the move pay off as he dropped in a two-run single to right to plate the pair. Yan Gomes singled Alonso to second and Tyler Naquin singled to left, scoring the Indians first baseman to make it 3-0. A fielder’s choice by Zimmer erased the middle runner, leaving runners on the corners for Francisco Lindor, who singled to score Gomes to extend the lead to 4-0 with a six-single frame. Manager Ron Gardenhire went back to his bullpen, calling on Drew VerHagen, who struck out the ninth man to bat, Kipnis, swinging.
The Indians would waste an opportunity in the fifth against VerHagen after Encarnacion and Alonso worked two-out walks before Gomes grounded out.
In the sixth, Martin came up big again for the Tigers. In his third trip to the plate, he recorded his third straight hit, this time a screaming liner 421 feet to right to put Detroit on the board, trailing 4-1.
The Indians tacked on one more run in the seventh, when Brantley drove in Kipnis with one out after the Tribe’s second baseman led off the inning with a double.
With a pitch count in the low 90s, Carrasco came back out for the ninth in search of his ninth career complete game and got it. He finally retired Martin on a liner to short before walking Jeimer Candelario. A fielder’s choice by Cabrera erased the base runner and Castellanos grounded to second to end the ball game.
After backing his way into two wins after some good support from his offense, Carrasco pitched his way to the win on Wednesday. He faced four over the minimum, allowing three hits and two walks while striking out six. He worked from in front for much of the night, throwing 23 first pitch strikes. A total of 76 of his 110 pitches registered as strikes.
With the exception of Martin, who had Carrasco’s number all game, the Tribe’s number two arm was able to hold the other eight lineup spots hitless.
The Indians’ lineup, which had struggled to produce in bulk this season, put up a season-best ten hits in the contest, including eight singles. They were the last team in Major League Baseball to accumulate a double-digit hit total in a game. Every player in the starting lineup for Cleveland recorded at least one hit with the exception of the DH, Encarnacion, who was 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts.
The Indians and Tigers will conclude their four-game series on Thursday night as Cleveland looks for the sweep and to improve to 6-1 on their current ten-game homestand. Right-hander Trevor Bauer (0-1, 2.08 ERA) will start for the Tribe, looking for his first win of the year. He was impressive his last time out, throwing eight innings of one-run baseball in a tough 1-0 loss on Saturday to the Kansas City Royals. Fellow right-hander Michael Fulmer (1-1, 0.68) will counter for Detroit. He has had mixed results at best against the Indians in his career, going 2-2 with a 6.04 ERA and a 1.82 WHIP in five career games. His lone loss this season was a mirror image of Bauer’s, as he allowed just a run in eight innings of work in his first start of the year against Pittsburgh before winning his next start against Chicago.
First pitch from Progressive Field on Thursday night is scheduled for 6:10 PM ET.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images