Carlos Carrasco pitched into the seventh inning while allowing just four hits and his offense rewarded his efforts with an early lead to work with as the Cleveland Indians defeated the Minnesota Twins by an 8-1 final on Friday night.
As fans in attendance at Target Field celebrated the life of the late entertainer Prince with themes of purple, their team was bludgeoned black and blue by the Indians bats, which were productive in a big way for the second straight ball game as Cleveland inched closer to the top spot in the American League Central Division.
The Indians threatened in the first and made good on the efforts the second time around against 27-year-old rookie southpaw Nik Turley, who was making career appearance number two at the Major League level. His first three pitches of the second frame were redirected into base hits as Jose Ramirez, Carlos Santana, and Yan Gomes all singled, with the latter driving in Ramirez to make it a 1-0 game. After a curious “bunt out” by Lonnie Chisenhall, who bunted his third strike foul for the first out of the inning, Austin Jackson grounded into a double play as the inning fell apart for the Tribe.
Carrasco found a little trouble in the second, but brushed it aside quickly. After striking out a pair to end the first, he walked Miguel Sano. After a groundout and a strikeout, he gave up a two-out single to left to Jason Castro to put runners on the corners, but the very next pitch was grounded to third by Byron Buxton and Ramirez converted the force at second to end the inning.
Command caused Turley some conflict in the third as the Indians broke the game open. Jason Kipnis walked and was moved to second on a sacrifice by Daniel Robertson. Francisco Lindor walked on four straight to bring up the new old cleanup hitter Edwin Encarnacion, who blasted a second-decker to left for his 14th homer of the year, giving the Indians a 4-1 lead. Ramirez would follow with a double, his second hit in as many innings, but he would be stranded at third.
Cleveland doubled its fun in the fifth and spoiled Turley’s start all the more. After a pair of grounders to third by Robertson and Lindor, Encarnacion walked on four straight. Ramirez took two more out of the zone before doubling to the base of the wall in left-center to put two in scoring position. Santana was intentionally walked, but Gomes delivered with a single to left that scored a pair to make it 6-0. Chisenhall made up for his previous bad effort with a 1-0 double to right, driving home both remaining base runners and ending Turley’s outing with eight runs surrendered. Craig Breslow struck out Jackson to end the onslaught.
Carrasco was cruising along with ten straight batters retired before Eddie Rosario took him the opposite way to left for a surprising home run on a ball that may have carried in the warm air on the night, getting the Twins as close as they would get to the Indians on the night.
The Indians starter left with one on and one out in the seventh, with Bryan Shaw getting the final two outs and all three of the eighth. Boone Logan pitched an uneventful final frame, getting a strikeout and two grounders to Erik Gonzalez at second, as he had taken over there in the bottom of the eighth defensively after Kipnis aggravated his neck injury moving out of the way of a pitch in the top half of the frame.
The win moved the Indians two over even at 33-31 and to 18-14 on the road this season. Carrasco earned his seventh win of the campaign, lasting six and a third while allowing one run on four hits with three walks and seven strikeouts. Three of the Ks came against Joe Mauer, who earned the rare hat trick with three swinging strikeouts against Carrasco before grounding out against Shaw.
The Twins fell to 34-30 and now hold just a one-game lead over the Indians in the division. Turley took the loss, the first of his big league career, after allowing eight runs on nine hits in four and two-thirds innings. He walked four and struck out three in the ball game.
The two teams will reconvene at 2:10 PM ET Saturday for the first of two games on the afternoon, with the latter game scheduled for an 8:10 PM ET start. Left-hander Ryan Merritt and right-hander Mike Clevinger will be recalled from Triple-A Columbus to make the starts for Cleveland, while Minnesota will trot out more left-handers in starting Adam Wilk and Adalberto Mejia. Wilk will need to be added to the 25- and 40-man rosters for the Twins.
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