The Indians scored ten runs – yes, you read that right – in the seventh inning with a 3-0 lead to back Carlos Carrasco and the Cleveland bullpen in a 13-0 three-hit shutout over the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday night.
Questions have plagued the Indians offense throughout the season, but the lineup erupted in a cathartic seventh inning in systematically tearing apart the Reds’ bullpen. Carrasco gave the Tribe his third straight quality start and limited the Cincinnati lineup to just one hit over six shutout innings of work and the Cleveland bullpen extended the team’s scoreless body of work against the Reds bats to 23 consecutive innings, dating back to the fourth inning on Tuesday.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Leading 3-0 after six and a half, the Indians were likely looking for a couple more runs. Closer Brad Hand and late inning reliever James Karinchak had both worked in each of the previous two wins for the club, so it was probable that the team was not going to be able to rely on the two key back-end pieces of the relief corps.
Jose De Leon, added to the Reds roster earlier in the day as teams finalized their 28-man squads, had pitched a perfect sixth inning in relief of starter Luis Castillo, who left after five innings. De Leon struck out Domingo Santana and Oscar Mercado swinging before Beau Taylor grounded out to short in an eleven-pitch inning. He was going to need way more in the seventh.
Delino DeShields, in his first game back since being added to the Indians’ 28-man roster earlier in the day, got his first hit of the season to lead off the seventh against De Leon. He motored over to third as Cesar Hernandez singled to right as the Indians’ rally began to mount. Jose Ramirez, who had homered in the first to put the Indians on the board and added an RBI-triple with two down in the fifth before scoring on a single by Francisco Lindor, grounded to Joey Votto at first. He fired to the plate, catching DeShields in a rundown. He alertly kept alive on the base paths, allowing Hernandez to advance to third and Ramirez to second before he was tagged out for the inning’s first out. Lindor was intentionally walked to load the bases and De Leon hurt his own cause, walking Carlos Santana with his fourth walk of the night to force in a run, giving the Indians a 4-0 lead.
Franmil Reyes stepped into the box in a situation that he could excel in. After taking a pair of strikes looking on sinkers, he fouled off two pitches before blooping in a single the opposite way to right. Ramirez and Lindor both scored to make it a 6-0 game. The next pitch was singled to right by D. Santana to load the bases back up. Mercado’s tough day at the plate continued as he struck out for the fourth time on the night for the second out, but the light-hitting Taylor walked on five pitches to force in another run on the third walk of the inning. Four straight dancing around the plate to DeShields forced home the third different runner via bases loaded free pass to give Cleveland an 8-0 lead.
That was all for De Leon, but it wasn’t all for the Tribe offense. Hernandez cleared the deck against new reliever Cody Reed, sending a 1-2 pitch into the right field corner for a double, making it 11-0. Reed fell behind Ramirez 2-0 and grooved Ramirez’s favorite pitch, the home run pitch, low and in. The souvenir to the bleachers in left extended the Cleveland lead to 13-0 in a ten-run frame on his second big fly of the night.
Pinch-hitter Yu Chang walked before Reed got the final out on a fly to center by C. Santana.
The total damage in the seventh included ten runs on six hits with four walks. Seven runs were driven in on three hits alone, while three more runs came in via the costly bases-loaded walk. De Leon and Reed combined to throw 57 pitches to 14 batters.
LOOK WHAT I FOUND
The Indians found their offense in the season finale with the Reds, scoring more runs in the seventh inning alone than they had scored in the entire month of August (9). The club also showed a lot of patience, drawing nine walks to go with their 13 hits in the offensive game the team has waited all season for.
After striking out in his first two at bats, Hernandez got a single, a double, drew a walk, drove in three runs, and scored three times. Ramirez was 3-for-5 with four runs scored and four runs batted in while homering from both sides of the plate for the second time this season and adding in a triple. Lindor reached safely twice with a single and a walk while scoring once and driving one in. Santana walked four times in five plate appearances while scoring a run. Reyes had a pair of hits while scoring once and driving two in. Hitting ninth in his Indians debut, DeShields went 1-for-3 with a single, a walk, one run batted in, and one run scored.
“I’m proud of our guys,” said Indians interim manager Sandy Alomar Jr. “Our approach was good. Made them throw a lot of pitches, especially in that inning that Lindor got that hit. We were able to continue the at bats and after that, [Castillo] ended up with the 100-something pitches he was at. They keep working their at bats, that’s very important. Going the other way. Taking what the pitcher is giving them. That’s how you get out of slumps.”
The bottom of the lineup continued to struggle and missed out on some of the fun. D. Santana, Mercado, and Taylor combined for a 2-for-14 effort in the six, seven, and eight spots with two singles, a walk, two runs scored, and eight of the club’s 13 strikeouts. D. Santana singled and struck out three times. Mercado struck out four times around a single.
QUALITY START FOR COOKIE AGAIN
For the third straight outing, Carrasco provided a quality six innings of work on the mound. Walks were his biggest issue (he gave up four on the night), issuing a free pass to Votto with two outs in the first, Freddy Galvis with one out in the fifth, and both Votto and Eugenio Suarez back-to-back with two outs in the sixth. His lone hit allowed came in the second, when Jesse Winker opened the inning with a double to center before he was stranded there.
“He was good. He was keeping the ball down,” said Alomar Jr. “Later in the game, he kept spiking the changeup way in front. That’s when we felt like he was losing a little bit of the rhythm. But he was able to manage eight strikeouts and keep them at bay. He was able to navigate some traffic and control the running game. He did a good job.”
Carrasco struck out eight, getting a pair in the first, one to end the second, two more to close out the third, one to start the fifth, and two more to open and close his final inning of work, including his third of the game of Shogo Akiyama.
The win moved Carrasco to 2-1 on the year and lowered his season ERA to 2.50. Cleveland won the season series from Cincinnati, 3-1, and improved to 8-6 on the season and 6-2 at Progressive Field.
“Scoring early kinda take a little pressure off of Cookie,” said Alomar Jr., “although Cookie was pitching pretty good after that. He came to relax a little bit.”
“Just to see that first run in there, I could just go back to pitching, put zeros on the board,” shared Carrasco. “That’s what I did for six innings.”
RUNNING OUT OF GAS
The Indians had a good approach for Castillo and ran him out of the game in a five-and-fly. He needed 105 pitches to clear 15 outs against the 23 batters that he faced. He was charged with three runs on four hits, walking four and striking out nine on the day. Three of those came in the second when he struck out the side, five were through his first trip through the order, and six of them came from Hernandez, D. Santana, and Mercado.
Castillo is now 0-2 on the season as the Reds dropped to 5-8 on the year.
POSITION PLAYER PITCHING
Matt Davidson made his return to the big league mound in the bottom of the eighth in relief of Reed after he allowed two runs on two hits with a walk in one-third of an inning. Davidson gave up a hit but threw eight of nine pitches for strikes while also striking out pinch-hitter Mike Freeman.
Reds manager David Bell was ejected after the top of the sixth inning by home plate umpire Jerry Meals for arguing balls and strikes after Winker was cut down looking for the final K of Carrasco’s outing.
It was Bell’s first ejection this season.
Both clubs made roster moves ahead of the game to get their respective clubhouses down to 28-men rosters.
The Indians activated the outfielder DeShields from the 10-day injured list, as the start of his season was delayed for conditioning reasons after a bout with COVID-19. Cleveland optioned outfielders Greg Allen and Daniel Johnson to its alternate training site and designated seldom-used utility man Christian Arroyo for assignment.
The Reds sent two to their alternate training site, optioning out Wednesday’s starting pitcher Tejay Antone and the struggling Josh VanMeter. Pitcher Brooks Raley, who pitched late in Wednesday’s ball game as well, was designated for assignment. De Leon was recalled before getting shelled in his season debut.
The Reds were again without a big name on the lineup card as Mike Moustakas was idle with a bruised left quad.
TAKE THIS SHOW ON THE ROAD
The Indians will look to keep up their winning ways in their second series of the season against the Chicago White Sox this weekend. Aaron Civale (1-1, 3.75 ERA) will take his second look at the ChiSox in his third start of the season. Dylan Cease (1-1, 6.48 ERA) will also get his second chance to pitch against the Indians and will look for better success than that first go-round.
First pitch of game one from Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago is scheduled for 8:10 PM ET on Friday night.
Photo: Ron Schwane/Getty Images