Carrasco Cruises Through Pale Hose with Four-Hit Gem; Indians 2, White Sox 0

Whatever changes Carlos Carrasco made before returning to the starting rotation, they sure have worked.

Carrasco pitched nothing short of a gem on Sunday afternoon, shutting out the Chicago White Sox for eight and two third innings and leading the Indians to a 2-0 victory at Progressive Field. While it has been said before, this game is Carrasco’s best since returning to the rotation. After three years of waiting, grooming and patience, it appears Carrasco is the pitcher Cleveland always believed he could be.

His brilliance on Sunday overshadowed a fine effort from right-hander Scott Carroll of the White Sox.

The Indians took an early lead on Carroll and the White Sox in the first inning. Michael Bourn started the Tribe offense with a triple to center field and came home an out later when Michael Brantley singled back up the middle. Brantley’s 89th run batted in of the year put the Indians up 1-0.

It was all the offense Carrasco would need—luckily—and it’s all he would receive for a while. Carrasco carved up the Chicago White Sox all afternoon, getting ahead of hitters with first pitch strikes. Through eight innings Carrasco only threw 88 pitches, while allowing just two hits. Conor Gillaspie doubled to start the second inning and Andy Wilkins doubled in the fifth for the only hits he would surrender. In the eighth inning, Carrasco struck out Dayan Viciedo and Jordan Danks to end the frame.

Finally, in the bottom half of the inning, the Indians got Carrasco a much needed insurance run. Roberto Perez started the inning with a single to center field. That ended the day for Carroll, who on most days would have pitched well enough to win. Eric Surkamp came on and promptly allowed a single to Michael Bourn. With a pair on, Jose Ramirez registered his 12th sacrifice bunt of the season. He’s currently tied with Brett Gardner for the league lead.

Brantley was intentionally walked to load the bases and Surkamp was replaced with Matt Lindstrom. Santana grounded out to first base, forcing in a run, and the Indians led 2-0 after eight innings. Carroll (5-10) was a tough-luck loser for Chicago, tossing seven innings, allowing two runs on seven hits and a walk, while striking out just one.

Carrasco nearly finished what he started, pitching into the ninth, but after allowing a pair of hits bringing the go-ahead run to the plate Cody Allen was called from the bullpen. Allen recorded a one-out save, getting Gillaspie to line out to center field to end the game and give him his 19th save of the year. Carrasco (7-4) pitched eight and two-third innings, allowing just four hits and no runs, while striking out eight.

Since his rebirth in the starting rotation, Carrasco has allowed just three runs in six starts, encompassing 38.2 innings. Since limiting his warm up routine, pitching from the stretch and attacking hitters early, Carrasco has looked like the pitcher they hoped for when they traded for him in July 2009.

The win keeps the Indians in the playoff race, currently five games back in the division and 4.5 games back in the Wild Card race.

Cleveland will have little time to celebrate the victory as they will make up a rain out with the Los Angeles Angels on Monday afternoon. Jered Weaver (15-8, 3.56) will toe the rubber for the Angels and Danny Salazar (6-6, 3.80) will pitch for the Indians. The game is scheduled for 1:05 p.m.

Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images

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