Chances are slim that the candles on manager Terry Francona’s 58th birthday cake withstood the strong winds generated by three Indians home runs and plenty of swings and misses by the White Sox as Carlos Carrasco worked eight innings of three-hit shutout baseball and the Indians blanked the White Sox again, 7-0, on Saturday night.
Carrasco (2-1, 1.65 ERA) channeled his inner Corey Kluber and nearly replicated the pitching performance of the Tribe’s ace from one night earlier when he fired a complete game three-hit shutout. Carrasco worked a similar line on the night, exiting for the final frame with a zero on the scoreboard in the runs column while limiting the Sox to three hits and a walk while striking out eight. He was aggressive on the mound, throwing first pitch strikes to 19 of the 27 batters that he faced while hitting 73 of 106 pitches for strikes. Nineteen of those pitches were cut on and missed.
Carrasco’s big outing was backed by plenty of run support from the Indians offense, which got him some breathing room in the first inning on a chilly night in Chicago. With two down, Michael Brantley singled off of the foot of White Sox spot starter Mike Pelfrey and picked off second base, the first of many thefts on the night for the Tribe. On an 0-2 pitch, Edwin Encarnacion drilled a 438-foot moonshot to the batter’s eye in center field to give Cleveland an early 2-0 lead.
The Indians right-hander was dealing early, striking out the first batter of the game, Tyler Saladino. He walked the leadoff man Jose Abreu in the second but let him get no further by striking out a pair. He struck out another man in the third before a two-out single from Saladino, but he was erased on a caught stealing.
Cleveland tacked on two more in the fifth off of Pelfrey. Abraham Almonte reached safely on an error at short by Tim Anderson. He moved into scoring position when Yan Gomes was hit by a pitch. Carlos Santana made Pelfrey pay with a single to right that scored a hustling Almonte to make it a 3-0 game. A deep sacrifice fly to left from Francisco Lindor pushed Gomes across and sent Pelfrey to the showers.
Carrasco retired nine straight before a two-out single from Saladino in the sixth, but he would not advance further as Anderson grounded out to end the inning. The next inning, Brantley delivered with a two-run home run off of Michael Ynoa, who was on in relief of Zach Putnam after he walked the leadoff man Santana on five pitches and left with an apparent right elbow injury.
The Indians would add one more with two down in the ninth when Jose Ramirez hit his team-leading fifth home run of the season on the first pitch he saw from Ynoa.
Zach McAllister worked the ninth inning, striking out the final two batters to end the ball game.
The Indians (10-7) have now won five straight games and have done the damage against the AL Central. With another road victory, the Tribe improved to 8-3 away from home to start the season, the top mark in the AL. The White Sox (7-9) have lost three straight games and have been shut out in consecutive games. They have scored just 14 total runs over their last eight games, posting a 3-5 record in that span.
CARRASCO FOLLOWS KLUBER’S LEAD
Carrasco was in cruise control on the mound for Cleveland and could have worked the ninth, but handed the ball off late to get the bullpen a little bit of work.
His stat line was nearly a duplicate of that of Kluber from Friday night, as Carrasco posted eight shutout innings with just three hits allowed. He is now 2-1 on the season with a 1.65 ERA and a 0.93 WHIP.
The Indians’ recent success can be heavily attributed to better results from the starting rotation. In the club’s last five starts, the starting five have combined to throw 35 1/3 innings, post a 1.53 ERA, allow no home runs in the contest, and have struck out 33 batters while walking eight in that span (h/t Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio).
PELFREY BROUGHT UP FOR SPOT START
Pelfrey got the call from Triple-A Charlotte as the White Sox purchased his contract from the Knights and placed him on the 25-man roster to start for the injured James Shields, who was sent to the 10-day disabled list with a right lat strain.
In his first start of the season, he allowed four runs (two earned) on four hits with a walk and a strikeout in four and one-third innings.
BRANTLEY KEEPS HITTING
Brantley has now hit in eight straight games and nine of his last ten. He was 2-for-5 at the plate on Saturday, hitting a first inning single and later launching his third home run of the season in the seventh inning. On the year, the left fielder is hitting .310 with a .385 OBP and .517 slugging with eleven runs batted in.
Encarnacion has not been playing first base for the Indians while nursing a sore hamstring. Jason Kipnis will not make the start on Sunday against a left-hander, but did get his first hit of the season on Saturday.
The White Sox activated catcher Geovany Soto from the 10-day disabled list and transferred outfielder Charlie Tilson from the 10-day to the 60-day list prior to the game to make room on the 40-man for Pelfrey, whose contract was selected from the Triple-A Knights.. Catcher Kevan Smith was optioned to Charlotte.
EARLY EXIT FOR MELKY
Melky Cabrera left in the bottom of the seventh for a pinch-hitter. In the previous half inning, he gave chase on a foul ball and crashed into the side wall, appearing to jam his left fingers and/or wrist on the collision. X-rays were negative.
Jacob May grabbed a bat for Cabrera and did something that he had never done in his brief Major League career by notching his first big league hit.
May entered the at bat in an 0-for-26 slump to start his career, but singled to right and emphatically celebrated from the bag with his teammates in the dugout, who made sure to collect the game ball for his accomplishment.
May is the grandson of long-time Major League outfielder Lee May.
PREPPING THE BROOMS
The Indians will go for a second straight three-game sweep as they look to spoil the White Sox’s homestand by taking all three in Chi-Town. Danny Salazar (1-1, 3.57 ERA) will toe the rubber for the Tribe against left-hander Derek Holland (1-2, 2.16).
Salazar notched his first win of the season at the beginning of the road trip in Minnesota, allowing just one run on seven hits with seven strikeouts in six innings of work. In his previous outing against Chicago this season, he gave up two runs on four hits and matched a career-high with eleven strikeouts in a loss. Holland held the Indians hitless for five innings in his first start against them this season and is 6-1 against Cleveland in his career with a 2.35 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP in ten starts.
Game time from Guaranteed Rate Field in the southside of Chicago is scheduled for 2:10 PM ET Sunday.
Photo: Jon Durr/Getty Images