The final score was hardly indicative of the game, as Carlos Carrasco allowed just one hit over seven shutout innings of work and Jose Ramirez went yard twice as the Cleveland Indians defeated the Detroit Tigers, 7-4, on Sunday afternoon.
The Indians (29-24) used a stellar performance from Carrasco and a rare offensive outburst to take care of the Tigers (22-30) for the seventh time in ten chances in 2020. The Tribe bullpen blew the shutout in the eighth inning as the Tigers made things a little more interesting than they should have been, but the relief corps ultimately closed the door on Detroit for the season with an overall lopsided result while reducing the team’s magic number for a playoff berth down to three.
For the first four innings, there was little action to write about. Left-hander Matthew Boyd looked like a completely different pitcher for four innings, striking out three while setting down the first 12 in order. Carrasco struck out four in his first two innings while facing the minimum, then escaped the third after a leadoff single by Austin Romine and a walk by Daz Cameron were wasted on two fly outs and a big strikeout of Willi Castro swinging.
Both pitchers retired the side in order in the fourth before the Indians finally figured out Boyd. The slumping Carlos Santana got the rally going with a leadoff single. Franmil Reyes drew a walk to bring the former lefty killer Jordan Luplow to the plate. He delivered with a single to left deep enough to score Santana from second with the first run of the day. Oscar Mercado sacrificed both runners up 90 feet before a fly out by Sandy Leon for the second out. With Boyd nearly off of the hook, Delino DeShields delivered arguably the biggest hit of the game, singling to center. Victor Reyes misplayed the ball, with Reyes and Luplow both coming home on the play to give the Indians a 3-0 lead. Francisco Lindor grounded to short in his third at bat to leave DeShields at second.
Carrasco made it nine straight retired with a 1-2-3 fifth before the Indians tacked on in the sixth to knock out Boyd. Cesar Hernandez sent a drive to deep center over the head of V. Reyes, but a slow start out of the box left him with only a double. Ramirez made sure that the missed extra base did not come back to haunt the Tribe as he drove a 3-1 hanging changeup over the wall in left for his 14th homer of the season, putting the Indians up 5-0. Acting manager Lloyd McClendon went to his bullpen for Nick Ramirez, but the lefty flirted with danger. After striking out Santana, he walked F. Reyes and gave up a single to left by Luplow. Mercado was cut down swinging and Leon lined to short to strand a pair.
Carrasco used two fly outs and a strikeout, his eighth of the game, to breeze through the sixth. The Indians then added on against N. Ramirez, with J. Ramirez at the heart of the scoring again. Lindor drew a one-out walk before he was forced out at second on a fielder’s choice by Hernandez that could have easily been a double play if not for an errant turn by Niko Goodrum. J. Ramirez took two sinkers off of the plate before getting a cutter dead red. He relocated the pitch to left-center and into the bullpen for his second homer of the game, pushing the Indians lead to 7-0 with his third and fourth RBI of the contest.
At 79 pitches through six, Carrasco came back to the mound but had to work hard to get through his final three outs of the day. He struck out Miguel Cabrera on a 2-2 fastball up. Jeimer Candelario fouled off five pitches in a ten-pitch at bat before drawing a walk on a borderline pitch. Jorge Bonifacio struck out swinging on three pitches for the second out. Carrasco lost Goodrum after getting ahead of him 0-2, walking him on eight pitches to put runners on first and second. He recovered to strike out Romine on four, finishing his outing with a season-high eleven strikeouts with three in his final frame.
Rony Garcia kept the Indians scoreless in the eighth before the Tigers finally did some damage to the hit and run columns against Cam Hill. He struck out Cameron to open the inning, but gave up a single to Isaac Paredes. V. Reyes grounded out on a nice stop at first by Santana for the second out, but Castro drove in the runner from second with a single to shallow left to get the Tigers on the board in the 7-1 game. Cabrera caught up with a 91 MPH fastball from Hill up and over the plate and the veteran popped it over the wall in right for a two-run home run to make it a 7-3 game. Hill struck out Candelario to prevent further issues.
Garcia used eight pitches to put down the Tribe in the ninth before the Tigers struck again in their last ditch efforts. Bonifacio reached on an infield single to Santana. Goodrum knocked him in with a double over Luplow’s head in right to cut the score to 7-4. Hand recovered, getting Romine to fly to right for the first out. He struck out Cameron, the son of his former teammate Mike Cameron, for out number two. Paredes lined to center to end it.
The Indians moved to within two and a half of second place Minnesota in the American League Central. The Twins are set to play the Chicago Cubs later Sunday night. Cleveland trails the other Chicago club by five for the top spot in the division with four pending head-to-head matchups remaining.
Carrasco pitched his best game of the season, keeping his name in the mix for the third spot on the team’s playoff pitching staff. He worked seven scoreless innings, allowing just one hit while walking three. He struck out a season-high eleven, his second double digit strikeout game of the season, and his fastball was still registering at 96 in his final inning of work. He blended in his change and his breaking pitches effectively, getting 24 swings and misses throughout the game.
“Normally he tends to kind of escalate slowly inning by inning, and then decreasing inning by inning if he goes deep,” interim Indians skipper Sandy Alomar Jr. said. “But this time he was able to sustain it through the entire game.”
Carrasco moved to 3-4 on the season in his 109-pitch outing. With his seven shutout innings, he lowered his season ERA to 2.90.
Boyd was perfect through four, but that was certainly not evident in his final stat line. He worked five-plus innings, giving up five runs on five hits with a walk and three strikeouts to drop to 2-7 on the season with a 6.96 ERA. N. Ramirez gave up two runs on two hits with two walks and two strikeouts in two innings of relief, while Garcia shut down the Tribe bats with two hitless frames.
J. Ramirez continues to spark the Indians lineup, using four homers and ten RBI in the four-game series while hitting .529 in the set (9-for-17). He now has 15 homers on the season with his four multi-homer game of the year and has driven in 38 runs while boosting his season batting average up to .284. Luplow had a pair of singles out of the six-spot as he looks to be heating up against left-handed pitching. F. Reyes drew three walks.
Tigers hitters struck out 14 times against Tribe pitching on Sunday. Castro had three of those to drop his average to .330. Candelario, caught in a recent slump, struck out twice along with teammates Cabrera, Bonifacio, Romine, and Cameron.
The Indians will get back to work with seven more games to close out the season, all in the friendly confines of Progressive Field. Aaron Civale (3-5, 3.80 ERA) will draw the starting nod for Cleveland on Monday to kick off a four-game series against the Chicago White Sox. The Tribe will get its first look at the Sox’s rookie and bespectacled right-hander Dane Dunning (2-0, 2.33 ERA), who will make his sixth career start.
All four coming games with Chicago from downtown Cleveland this week are scheduled for 6:10 PM ET first pitches.
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