Carlos Carrasco continued his dominance since returning from the disabled list and Jose Ramirez paced the Indians with a two-run first inning home run as Cleveland knocked off the Baltimore Orioles by a 2-1 final on Friday night.
It was a busy night in downtown Cleveland as the Indians began a quick three-game homestand while the NFL’s Browns opened the home slate with a preseason contest down the street against the Buffalo Bills. Fans in attendance at Progressive Field were treated to a low-scoring pitchers’ duel, with Carrasco and the Tribe walking away the victor at the end of the day.
The Indians made Orioles starter David Hess work in the first inning as they took the early lead. After a groundout by Francisco Lindor to start the home half, Michael Brantley worked a six-pitch walk. Ramirez worked the count to 3-1 before catching a four-seamer down the middle, driving his 37th homer of the season 387 feet to the seats in right to put Cleveland up, 2-0. A double play ball after a Yandy Diaz single got Hess out of his mess.
Carrasco worked an easy first inning with a pair of strikeouts, but had to deal with some base traffic in the second. Chris Davis dribbled a single down the left field line with one out and moved to second with two outs on a fielding error by Ramirez. Joey Rickard lined out to end the inning. Carrasco’s third looked just like his first, as he worked a perfect inning with two more strikeouts.
The Indians threatened in the bottom of the third but could not score. Greg Allen singled, but was erased on a double play grounder by Lindor. Brantley drew his second walk of the game and Ramirez was hit on the left knee by a pitch. Diaz reached safely for the second straight plate appearance, walking to load the bases, but Yonder Alonso struck out swinging to leave the ducks on the pond.
Carrasco had to work hard again in the fourth as the O’s loaded the bases. Mark Trumbo reached safely with a one-out single and moved to second on a groundout by Davis for the second out. Renato Nunez walked and Tim Beckham loaded the bases with a single to left, but Rickard was cut down swinging to strand three.
Hess continued to flirt with danger, but kept the game within two runs. He allowed a two-out base runner in the fourth and two more in the fifth when Brantley singled and Ramirez walked, but Hess retired the next two.
After the fourth inning jam, Carrasco locked in completely. He retired the side in order in the fifth, did the same with a strikeout in the sixth, and pitched a perfect seventh in his final frame to leave with seven shutout innings under his belt and the final ten batters of his day retired in order.
Andrew Miller got some work in the eighth, walking the leadoff man Caleb Joseph before retiring the next two. Adam Cimber entered in relief but allowed a single to center to Trey Mancini that scored Joseph from second to cut the Orioles deficit to 2-1.
Cody Allen came on in the ninth, looking for save number 24 on the year. He got that, but not without a little drama in the process. Davis struck out looking before Nunez walked on five pitches. Craig Gentry, fresh off of the disabled list, ran for Nunez and stole second, but Beckham flied to left and Rickard struck out again to leave the tying run at second.
The Indians hit the 70 win mark on the year with their sixth straight victory. They are now 38-23 at home this season while maintaining their 12-game divisional lead over the Minnesota Twins. The Orioles fell to 36-86 in defeat and are now 50.5 games in back of Boston in the AL East.
Carrasco matched Corey Kluber with his 15th win of the season. He fired seven scoreless innings, allowing three hits and a walk while striking out six. He improved to 7-1 in nine appearances (eight starts) since being activated from the disabled list with a 1.73 ERA and a 0.96 WHIP with 65 strikeouts and six walks in 52 innings of work.
“Nobody wants to go on the DL, but I’m glad I went on the DL to fix some little things,” said Carrasco postgame. “That’s what it takes sometimes, two or three weeks. At this point I feel fine. I can’t wait to start pitching every five days.”
Miller and Cimber each were credited with holds. Allen struggled with the strike zone once again, throwing nine of 17 pitches off the plate, but he ultimately got the job done.
Hess fell to 2-7 on the campaign, but dropped his ERA below six to 5.95 with a quality outing. He allowed two runs on five hits with four walks and three strikeouts in defeat. Miguel Castro worked two scoreless innings, allowing one hit.
No player on either side recorded more than one hit in the contest as the two teams combined for ten total hits. Brantley reached base three times in four trips, hitting a single, drawing two walks, and scoring a run. Ramirez and Diaz each reached twice, with Ramirez driving in a pair with his two-run home run while Diaz singled and earned a free pass to keep his batting average at .500 this season.
Mancini, Trumbo, Davis, and Beckham all singled, recording the four O’s hits on the night.
Game two of the Indians’ quick homestand will start at 4:05 PM ET after the ceremony honoring Jim Thome‘s Hall of Fame induction. The team is expected to retire his jersey number 25 permanently.
Adam Plutko (4-2, 4.75) will be recalled from Triple-A Columbus to make his first appearance for Cleveland since July 29, when he worked an inning in relief. He has been on fire in Columbus, allowing just two runs over his last 19 2/3 innings since being last optioned out. Right-hander Alex Cobb (3-15, 5.31) has been pitching better despite his bad numbers. In August, he is 1-1 with a 1.35 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP in three starts.
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