A four-run rally by Houston, capped off by a three-run home run by Robinson Chirinos, spoiled a good start from Cleveland starter Carlos Carrasco as the Indians dropped the series finale against the Astros on Sunday night, 4-1.
The Indians provided Carrasco with little support, getting only a solo home run from Carlos Santana in the fourth inning. Carrasco had made the minimal support stand until the seventh, when in his final inning of work with a reasonable pitch count, the Houston offense rallied with a four-run onslaught and held on for the win to split the series with Cleveland.
Things changed for the worst for the Tribe in the bottom of the seventh as Carrasco’s quality start and impressive effort against a threatening Houston lineup went for naught. After a strikeout by Alex Bregman, former friend of the feather Michael Brantley singled to right-center. Carrasco struck out
Carlos Correa for the second out, but Yuli Gurriel drove a 2-2 pitch to the left-center gap for the game-tying RBI-double. Josh Reddick was intentionally walked to force a righty-righty matchup against the Houston catcher, but Chirinos jumped the first pitch two-seamer and drove it out of the park for a decisive three-run bomb to give the Astros a four-run inning and a 4-1 lead.
Only two men reached in the first three innings for the Indians against Astros left-hander Wade Miley, who limited the Cleveland offense to just a run on six hits in five and two-thirds innings of work. He maneuvered around a two-out walk by Jose Ramirez in the first and a Jake Bauers single with one out in the third.
Carrasco retired nine of the first ten men that he faced on the night, allowing just a one-out single to Correa in the second.
The Indians took their lead in the fourth inning after Ramirez worked Miley for eight straight cutters before striking out. Santana stepped in and drove a changeup in the opposite way to right for a solo shot, putting Cleveland in front 1-0.
Carrasco protected his lead with a pair of strikeouts in the bottom half of the inning, preventing a response from Houston behind his fifth and sixth Ks of the day.
The Indians missed a big scoring opportunity in the fifth, loading the bases but failing to score. Roberto Perez singled to right-center and Bauers reached on a hit to short. Francisco Lindor lined out and Leonys Martin struck out swinging before Ramirez kept the inning alive with a single to left. Santana stepped in and got a diet of cutters, fouling off several before grounding out to squander a big scoring threat.
The Astros were retired in order in the fifth and Carrasco worked around a leadoff walk to Chirinos in the bottom of the sixth, leaving the tying run 90 feet away after Houston pushed him around the bases on a sacrifice and a groundout.
The Indians had a base runner in each of the final two innings, but could not score after Chirinos gave the Astros the lead. Ramirez led off the eighth with a single off of Framber Valdez before being forced on a fielder’s choice grounder by Santana, who was left at first on a strikeout and a groundout. In the ninth against reliever Ryan Pressly, pinch-hitter Tyler Naquin doubled with one down, but back-to-back strikeouts by Bauers and Lindor swinging ended the contest with a 4-1 tally.
The Indians fell to 15-12 on the season and 8-8 on the road while splitting their only road trip to Houston. The Astros moved to 17-11 on the season and are 10-3 at Minute Maid Park.
Carrasco dropped to 2-3 on the year in a start that ended two-thirds of an inning too late. He was sharp through the first six innings, but with a respectable pitch count, he was brought back out for the seventh when everything fell apart. He was charged with four runs on six hits with two walks and eight strikeouts. He threw 92 pitches, 59 for strikes, and worked ahead often on the night, but the Gurriel double and Chirinos homer spoiled his outing.
Complicating things for Carrasco was the Indians’ inability to do anything at the plate. Miley finished one out short of a quality start, allowing a run on six hits with two walks and three strikeouts on 106 pitches. While not overpowering the Tribe lineup, he contained them long enough to give his offense a chance to come back, a task that they completed in their four-run seventh to earn Valdez his first win of the year and Pressly his second save.
Chirinos had been all or nothing against Carrasco in his career. He entered the game with a .154 average lifetime (2-for-13) with six strikeouts, but with both hits leaving the yard for solo shots. He went 1-for-2 against Carrasco on Sunday night, with the devastating three-run blast the difference.
The Indians will take Monday off as the team travels to Miami for a quick two-game set against the Marlins in Florida. The Astros will open a six-game road trip with four games in Minnesota on Monday night.
Photo: AP Photo/David J. Phillip