Carlos Carrasco returned to the mound from the 10-day disabled list for the Cleveland Indians on Friday and pitched into the sixth inning while his offense erupted for ten runs in a 10-4 rout of the Oakland Athletics from Progressive Field.
The Tribe started their ten-game homestand on the right foot, putting together a balanced attack while overcoming an early 2-0 hole after a pair of homers to lead off the first two innings by the A’s. Carrasco settled in after the early trouble with the long ball to go five and one-third innings, kicking off what little rust he had accumulated while sidelined since the middle of June after being struck by a Joe Mauer line drive on June 16.
Cleveland fell behind with the first batter of the night as Dustin Fowler greeted Carrasco rudely by pulling his fourth pitch of the night deep into the seats in right field for a solo shot to give the A’s the early lead. Mark Canha followed with a single to center, but he would be caught stealing and Carrasco struck out a pair to get out of the inning.
In the second, Matt Olson started the inning the same way as Fowler. He found a 3-1 fastball to his liking and put a charge in the ball, launching a shot deep to the trees in center field to give Oakland a 2-0 lead.
The Indians would respond with a run of their own in the home half against Oakland starter Paul Blackburn, making his second straight appearance against Cleveland. Edwin Encarnacion singled to left and moved up to second on a ball in the dirt prior to a strikeout by Yonder Alonso. Jason Kipnis jumped on the next pitch and singled to right. Encarnacion charged hard around third and blew through the stop sign of third base coach Mike Sarbaugh as A’s right fielder Stephen Piscotty softly threw the ball back into the infield. Encarnacion scored standing on the lackadaisical play, cutting the Tribe’s deficit to 2-1.
Carrasco struck out the side in order swinging in the third before his offense got back to work. With one down in the inning, Francisco Lindor singled to left and moved to third on a bloop double by Michael Brantley that extended his hitting streak to six straight. Jose Ramirez waited back on a curveball down and in and yanked it hard off of the wall in the right field corner for a two-run double, putting the Indians on top, 3-2. Ramirez scampered to third on a wild pitch and scored with ease on a sacrifice fly to left by Encarnacion, making it a 4-2 Indians lead.
The A’s threatened in the fourth, but could not find the scoreboard. Jed Lowrie was hit by a pitch and Khris Davis singled to put a pair on for the dangerous Olson. He lined out to Greg Allen in center for the first out and Piscotty grounded into a perfectly placed double play, with Lindor fielding the ball at the second base bag before firing to Alonso at first.
After the missed opportunity in the fourth, the A’s struck through for a run in the fifth. Marcus Semien reached with one out on an infield single. He moved to second on a groundout by Jonathan Lucroy for the second out, but Fowler delivered his second run of the game with a single to right-center, scoring Semien to make it a one-run game at 4-3. Canha would reach on an infield single to third to put two on, but the A’s RBI-leader Lowrie lined to center to end the rally.
Two batters into the bottom of the fifth, the Indians responded again and knocked Blackburn from the contest. Lindor led off the inning with a single to right and Brantley followed with a drive to deep center that went over the head of Fowler for an RBI-double. Yusmeiro Petit came on in relief for manager Bob Melvin and got Ramirez to ground out to first for the first out, but Encarnacion came through with his second sacrifice fly of the game to plate the second run of the inning, giving Cleveland a 6-3 advantage.
Three different pitchers would take the mound for the Indians in the sixth. Carrasco struck out Davis for his seventh K of the game, but he was lifted at 96 pitches for lefty Marc Rzepczynski to battle fellow lefty Olson. Olson doubled to right, but after a challenge at second, he was ruled out there as he had come off of the bag briefly while Lindor held the tag. Zach McAllister became the third reliever of the frame and got Piscotty to foul out to right field.
Oakland would have its final big threat in the seventh inning when Cleveland again needed three pitchers to make it through the inning. McAllister returned for his second inning of work but pitched himself right into trouble, giving up back-to-back singles to Matt Chapman and Semien. Lucroy popped out for the first out and manager Terry Francona called on Oliver Perez, who got pinch-hitter Chad Pinder to pop to first for the second out. Neil Ramirez came on to face Canha, who doubled just over the third base bag and into the left field corner, scoring Chapman to make it a 6-4 game. Lowrie walked on four pitches to put the go-ahead run on base, but with the bases loaded and the dangerous Davis at the dish, Ramirez struck out the A’s cleanup man on a pitch up in the zone to leave the ducks on the pond.
The Indians took full advantage of the missed opportunity by the A’s. Allen started the bottom of the seventh with a single to right on the first pitch from new reliever Emilio Pagan. He stole second before a walk by Lindor. Brantley lined to left for the first out, but Ramirez knocked a broken bat base hit to right-center, scoring Allen and moving Lindor to third. With Encarnacion at the plate, Ramirez broke for second on a steal attempt. Lucroy threw through and Lindor sprinted for home, beating the return home to the plate on the back end of the double steal. His theft of home put the Indians up, 8-4. Encarnacion fouled a pitch off before mashing a double to left, scoring Ramirez from second to make it 9-4. He moved to third on a wild pitch from Pagan and some sloppy slow play from Lucroy behind the plate before coming home on the team’s third sacrifice fly of the game, this one from Alonso, to make it 10-4.
Dan Otero closed out the game for the Indians, retiring all six batters that he saw against his former club while striking out three, including the final two, to notch the Indians’ fifth straight W.
Cleveland improved to 49-37 on the year with the win and is now 28-13 at home. They exceeded their six-run-per-game average at home with the ten-spot against the A’s, which had allowed more than two runs in a game just one time in the previous seven games (incidentally, also against the Indians when they plated 15 runs in Sunday’s 15-3 decision in Oakland).
The A’s dropped to 48-40 with the defeat and moved to 24-19 on the road, one of four teams in the AL West with a winning record on the road this year. They trail Houston by ten games in the division.
Carrasco worked five and one-third innings in his return from the disabled list, allowing three runs on seven hits with no walks and seven strikeouts. He survived the early homers to give the Indians a good start, coming up just two outs short of a quality effort. He threw 65 of his 96 pitches for strikes and started ahead in the count to 15 of the 22 batters that he faced while earning his ninth win on the campaign.
Blackburn took his third loss of the season in his first outing since defeating the Indians last Friday. The results were much different as he was charged with six runs (five earned) on seven hits with a walk and three strikeouts in just four innings of work. Pagan allowed the game to get fully out of hand, allowing four runs on three hits and a walk in just two-thirds of an inning of work.
The top four hitters in the Tribe lineup did the bulk of the work at the plate, with the quartet each recording a pair of hits. For Lindor, it was his 36th multi-hit game this year, tying him for the American League lead. He also further distanced himself from the pack with three runs scored, giving him an MLB-high 78 this year. Brantley had two doubles, scored twice, and knocked one in. Both Ramirez and Encarnacion had doubles, scored twice, and drove in three each. Kipnis, in the six hole, reached three times with a single and two walks before being lifted for Erik Gonzalez later in the game.
The two clubs will get back to action in an early 4:10 PM ET start on Saturday afternoon. The Indians will go to their ace, Corey Kluber (12-4, 2.64 ERA), who will look to win his 13th game in his second-to-last start before the All-Star break. The A’s will call upon right-hander Edwin Jackson (1-0, 2.13), who earned his first win of the season in his second start of the year on Saturday, when he limited the Indians to a pair of solo homers in six and two-thirds innings for his tenth career win over Cleveland.
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