Only rain could stand in the way of a strong start from Carlos Carrasco and an impressive offensive contribution from Jordan Luplow as the Cleveland Indians blanked the Chicago White Sox in a two-hit 5-0 shutout in five innings on Thursday afternoon.
The forecast in Cleveland did not look good coming into the day and the two clubs had to dodge some rain drops early on before the umpiring crew called out the tarp ahead of the sixth inning. After a two-hour delay, the tarp was removed and the grounds crew got to fixing up the field, but the tarp was brought back out with more rain on the horizon. The game was called just before 5:30 PM during the second delay.
Carrasco was on his way to his best outing of the season. He was given some early run support on the first of Luplow’s two homers on the day, then handled the rest by throwing five scoreless innings, allowing just two hits and no walks while striking out six. It marked a positive step in the right direction for the 32-year-old right-hander in his first start since allowing four home runs against the Seattle Mariners on Saturday afternoon.
Carrasco started the game strong, striking out the first two batters of the game before Jose Abreu reached on an infield single to third. A fly to right by Yonder Alonso ended the inning. He worked an easy second, but got a nice sliding play up the middle from Jason Kipnis on a bullet that just missed Carrasco off of the bat of Tim Anderson.
Left-hander Manny Banuelos was on the mound for the White Sox in his first start since giving up nine runs on ten hits in four and one-third innings against Boston on May 4. He allowed an infield single to short to Jose Ramirez in the first, but escaped after a grounder to third by Carlos Santana. Luplow stepped in to start the second and took Banuelos deep to the bleachers in left with his first home run of the season to give Cleveland a 1-0 lead. Things continued positively for the Tribe after a strikeout by Carlos Gonzalez. Jake Bauers and Roberto Perez drew back-to-back six-pitch walks. With Tyler Naquin at the plate, Banuelos missed with a wild pitch that kicked down the side wall. Bauers scored all the way from second and Perez moved to second. Naquin walked on four straight with the third free pass of the inning, but with two on the bases, Francisco Lindor fouled out and Kipnis struck out swinging.
Carrasco retired the side in order in the third and got the first two in the fourth to give him nine straight set down before a double by Alonso to left. James McCann stepped to the plate with a chance to tie the game and worked the count full, fouling off five pitches before striking out swinging on a slider to end the last scoring opportunity for the Sox on the day.
The Indians loaded the bases in the bottom of the fourth, but could not expand on their 2-0 lead. Bauers walked and was joined on base on a Perez single to center. Naquin sacrificed both runners up in a close play at first and Lindor was intentionally walked to set up force plays and double play possibilities. With another chance with runners in scoring position, Kipnis struck out looking on a pitch off of the plate and Ramirez popped out to third to leave the bags full.
Carrasco retired the side in order for the third time on the afternoon in the fifth, striking out his sixth batter of the game before the Indians tacked on to the scoreboard. After a liner to third by Santana, Luplow drove a 2-1 pitch into Heritage Park in center for his second career multi-homer game, giving the Indians a 3-0 lead. Gonzalez followed with a single and Bauers doubled to right to put two in scoring position for Perez. He sent a sharp single that hopped over the glove of third baseman Yoan Moncada and into left field, allowing Gonzalez to score the fourth run of the game. Manager Rick Renteria went to the mound for left-hander Josh Osich, who struck out Naquin before Lindor dug out a pitch low in the zone and lofted it the opposite way to left. Charlie Tilson slipped and fell while moving under the ball, enabling Bauers to score on the double. Kipnis walked to load the bases before Ramirez flied to left for the final out of the game.
With the rain-shortened win, the Indians moved to 20-16 on the season and earned their second series split with the White Sox, who dropped to 16-20.
Carrasco went the distance, throwing five scoreless innings of two-hit baseball. He missed the plate with just 18 of his 63 pitches while striking out six. He moved to 3-3 with the win and lowered his ERA to 4.91. Banuelos dropped to 2-2 and was hit hard for the second straight start, allowing five runs on eight hits with five walks and five strikeouts in four and one-third innings.
Ramirez, who has been criticized heavily since slumping late last season, went 1-for-4 with a single to extend his on-base streak to 18 games. Every Indians hitter reached base safely via hit or walk, despite having only five innings to do so.
The delayed exit from Cleveland will hopefully not be a negative factor in the club’s three-game series in Oakland starting Friday night at 9:37 PM ET. Cody Anderson (0-1, 11.12 ERA) will make his second start of the week, looking to bounce back from a rough outing against Seattle on Sunday when he lasted just two-thirds of an inning.
Chicago will start a three-game set in Toronto with the Blue Jays on Friday.
Photo: Joe Robbins/Getty Images