Carlos Carrasco gave the Indians seven scoreless innings and his offense awoke from its road trip slumber with six big runs as Cleveland defeated the Toronto Blue Jays, 6-0, in a four-hit shutout on Tuesday night.
The Indians improved to 18-14 with the win. They have a Major League best record of 16-3 when scoring three runs or more and topped the threshold for the first time in the month of May. The last time the offense exceeded three runs was on April 30 against Seattle, the final game of their last homestand before hitting the road for a three-city, ten-game trip.
The win started with the impressive work on the mound of Carrasco, who kept the Blue Jays off balance and off of the bases all game long. He got a big double play ball in the first to erase an Ezequiel Carrera single before the Indians did some work against an unfamiliar foe in right-hander Mike Bolsinger.
Just called up from Triple-A Buffalo earlier in the day, Bolsinger was making his Toronto and American League debut on Tuesday night and handled the order easily in the first inning with a pair of strikeouts. But in the second, he became his own worst enemy and the Tribe bats made him pay for it. After getting ahead of Edwin Encarnacion with two quick strikes looking to start the second, he threw eight straight balls to walk the slugger and Jose Ramirez. Lonnie Chisenhall began his big day at the plate with a double to center, driving home Encarnacion with the game’s first run. Yandy Diaz grounded into a fielder’s choice as Chisenhall was erased trying to go to third, but Ramirez scored on the play to give the Indians and Carrasco a two-run lead to work with.
Carrasco had the strikeout pitch working early, setting down the last two in the second and two more in the bottom of the third after a leadoff single to right by Darwin Barney. The single marked the last Jays runner to reach in an extended period of time as Carrasco would retire 13 straight before a seventh inning single to center with one out by Jose Bautista.
The Indians tacked on another against the Jays bullpen in the top half of the seventh. Gomes got the inning going with a one-out walk against Dominic Leone, which prompted manager John Gibbons to head to the mound for reliever J.P. Howell. The results were little different as he walked Carlos Santana on five pitches before Francisco Lindor laced a ground rule double down the line in left and into the stands in foul territory, driving in Gomes to make it a 3-0 game.
Aaron Loup took over for the bluebirds in the eighth, got into trouble, got out of trouble, and then got right back into the hot seat and was burned. Ramirez reached on an infield single but was forced at second on the front end of a double play ball off of the bat of Chisenhall. Loup then plunked Brandon Guyer with a pitch, and the next two pitches went into play as Abraham Almonte broke his big slump with a single to right and Gomes cleared the wall with a towering drive to left to double the Tribe’s score to 6-0.
Andrew Miller and Nick Goody worked effective innings of relief of Carrasco, as Miller needed eight pitches to escape the eighth and Goody gave up a one-out single to Kevin Pillar before getting the speedy Carrera to ground into a 1-6-3 double play to end the ball game. The Indians pitching staff combined to allow just four hits, no walks, and seven strikeouts on the night and only one of the base runners (Bautista in the seventh after a stolen base) reached second base safely.
The Blue Jays dropped to 12-21 on the season, including a 5-9 mark in Toronto.
QUALITY STUFF FROM CARRASCO
Carrasco is looking everything of a staff ace on the mound for the Tribe this season as he improved to 4-2 with the win and dropped his already low ERA to 1.86 with the victory. He gave the club seven shutout innings in his 150th career Major League game, allowing just three hits and striking out seven in the win. Had the game not gotten ripped open in the top of the eighth, he could have even returned to the mound for extra work in the bottom of the inning as he left after 97 pitches (64 of which were strikes). Fourteen of those strikes missed Blue Jay bats altogether.
The effort from Carrasco was his sixth straight quality outing in seven total starts on the season. He has allowed no more than six hits or three runs in any one start, and both of those came in a 3-1 loss on April 28 to Seattle, when he worked eight innings with seven Ks.
GOMES GETTING THERE
The 2-for-3 day at the plate with a walk for Gomes marked a continued stream of steadying play from the Cleveland backstop. He is now 7-for-16 (.438) in the month of May with two doubles, a homer, and three RBI. Maybe even just as important are the four walks that he has drawn in that span, as it may be a sign that he is seeing the ball much better this season than last, allowing him to be much more selective in looking for his pitch to hit.
He has already equaled his walk total from last year, doing so in 185 fewer plate appearances and 51 fewer games.
BOLSINGER DEBUTS, RAMIREZ DESIGNATED
Making his first start for the Blue Jays after four outings at Triple-A Buffalo to start his season, Bolsinger survived the two-run second and gave Toronto a little depth on the mound as he made it two outs into the sixth inning before getting the hook from Gibbons.
The right-hander allowed two runs on three hits, walked four, and struck out four on the night.
The heavily used Jays staff still wound up sending five more relievers to the mound to get through the final three and one-third innings of the contest, giving up four runs on four hits with two walks and four strikeouts.
In order to add Bolsinger back to the 25- and 40-man rosters on Tuesday night, the Blue Jays designated right-hander Neil Ramirez for assignment. He had just been claimed off of waivers from the San Francisco Giants on May 4.
MORALES EXITS EARLY
Designated hitter Kendrys Morales exited in the seventh inning with what was described as tightness in his left hamstring sustained after running out a grounder in his second at bat of the night.
He is scheduled for an MRI on Wednesday, but shared after the game that he did not believe the injury to be serious.
ANOTHER RUBBER MATCH
With a 4-4 record on their road trip, the Indians will look for a win in Wednesday’s series finale to come home with a series win over the Blue Jays and a winning record during a tough stretch away from home.
Cleveland will look to right-hander Danny Salazar (2-3, 4.28 ERA), who took a tough 3-1 loss to Kansas City on Friday after leaving after just four and two-thirds innings of work with a high pitch count. He has pitched well against the Blue Jays throughout his career and debuted against them in 2013. He owns a lifetime record of 2-1 against them with a 2.65 ERA and has 20 strikeouts in 17 innings pitched.
Toronto will counter with left-hander Francisco Liriano (2-2, 4.44), a face formerly familiar to the Indians from his time with the Minnesota Twins. It will be his 20th career start against the Indians, whom he holds a 5-6 record against with a 3.54 ERA and a 1.57 WHIP with 97 strikeouts in 84 innings on the mound. Current Indians players are just 3-for-25 against him (.120) with 12 strikeouts in 31 total plate appearances.
First pitch from Rogers Centre is scheduled for 7:07 PM ET.
Photo: Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP