It’s been a while, it’s been quite a while, actually.
But for the first time in over three years, Carlos Carrasco strode to the mound as a starting pitcher and won a game for the Cleveland Indians. After a season lost to Tommy John surgery and two season’s of failed starting attempts and a move to the bullpen, Carrasco looked his best when expectations may have been their lowest. With a rotation in shambles, the Indians turned back to Carrasco for what could be his last shot as a starter in the big leagues and he out-pitched the Yankees Hiroki Kuroda on Sunday afternoon, resulting in a 4-1 win for the Indians.
Carrasco’s surprising gem, combined with some small ball on Sunday gave the Indians a win in the three-game, weekend series against the Yankees. Jason Kipnis was the catalyst offensively, getting on base three time, and Jose Ramirez and Michael Brantley helped get him over and in. Kipnis scored three of the Indians’ four runs.
Cleveland took an early lead for the second straight day, jumping on top of Kuroda in the top of the first inning. Jason Kipnis started the game with a single to left center field. Kipnis moved to second base when Jose Ramirez grounded out to second base and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Michael Brantley slapped a single down the left field line through a drawn in infield to give the Indians a 1-0 lead.
The Tribe had a chance to tack on more offense, but Carlos Santana just missed a pitch and flew out to right field. Yan Gomes singled to left field, but Lonnie Chisenhall grounded out to first base to leave runners on the corners.
In the third inning, Cleveland used much the same formula to generate another run. This time, Kipnis doubled into the right field corner, then advanced to third base on Ramirez’s bunt. Brantley lofted a fly ball deep enough to right field to score Kipnis and give the Indians a 2-0 lead. His second run batted in of the afternoon was his 76th of the season.
Kuroda struggled with control all afternoon and couldn’t make it out of the fifth inning. The frame started with Ryan Raburn reaching via hit-by-pitch. After Kipnis flew out, Ramirez singled to left field. Brantley grounded into a fielder’s choice, forcing Ramirez out at second, to put runners on the corners. Santana walked to load the bases and Gomes walked to force in a run. Kuroda’s fourth walk of the game gave Cleveland a 3-0 lead and sent him to the showers.
Kuroda (7-8) lasted just four and two-third innings, allowing three runs on five hits and four walks, while striking out three. David Huff came on for the Yankees, getting Chisenhall to ground out and leave the bases loaded.
Meanwhile, Carrasco (4-4) shined in a spot start for the Tribe. Pitching from a modified stretch position and limiting the variety of pitches, Carrasco took what he’s been doing in the bullpen all season to the starting rotation today. Carrasco allowed a hit in both the first and second inning, before setting down 11 Yankees in a row. On a limited pitch count, Carrasco pitched five innings, allowing just two hits while not walking a Yankee or allowing a run and striking out four. It was Carrasco’s first win as a starting pitcher since June 29, 2011 at Arizona. In a season littered with poor starts, Carrasco certainly earned another opportunity to prove he can start with the Indians.
C.C. Lee followed Carrasco with another strong frame before the Tribe tallied another run in the top of the seventh inning. Kipnis logged his third hit of the day when he started the inning with an infield hit off Huff. After Ramirez bunted him to scoring position, Kipnis stole third base. After Brantley walked, Huff was pulled in favor of Shawn Kelley. Kelley struck out Santana, but Gomes shot a single to right field to plate Kipnis for his third run scored of the game and give Cleveland a 4-0 lead.
Lee got the first out of the seventh before handing the game over to Scott Atchison. Atchison allowed a single, but ended the inning when he got Carlos Beltran to ground into a double play. Bryan Shaw allowed a double to Ichiro Suzuki in the eighth inning, but escaped unscathed before Cody Allen finished out the game in the ninth. He did not register a save, but helped log the victory despite allowing a solo home run to Jacoby Ellsbury. The Yankees were held to just five hits on the afternoon. Carrasco allowed two hits in five innings, while the bullpen stifled the Yanks to just three in the last four innings.
The weekend series win gets the Indians back to 59-59 on the season. With just 44 games remaining in the season, the Indians are trying to hang on to any playoff hopes. They still trail New York, Seattle and Toronto in their pursuit of the Kansas City Royals and the final Wild Card spot.
The Indians are off on Monday—their first of three straight Monday off-days—before opening a quick, two-game series at home with the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Indians will start left-hander, T.J. House (1-3, 4.13) against the Diamondbacks’ Josh Collmenter (8-6, 4.09) on Tuesday night at Progressive Field.
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