Dominant Carrasco achieves an Indians first

April 7th, 2019

CLEVELAND -- Last year, the Indians became the first team in Major League history to feature four pitchers with at least 200 strikeouts. Now that each of the club’s five starters has at least one outing under their belts this season, they’ve shown that they have the capability of entering that territory again.

After a shaky first start, rebounded in Saturday’s 7-2 victory over the Blue Jays at Progressive Field, clinching the team’s first series win over Toronto since July 21-23, 2017. The 32-year-old right-hander allowed two runs on six hits, including a solo blast by Freddy Galvis, with 12 strikeouts through five frames.

“He had a lot of strikeouts,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “He had to pitch out of a couple of situations, which he did. I just thought, because his first start was a little shorter than we had hoped, getting up around 90 [pitches] was enough. We could have let him go a little bit more, but just thought he ended the inning on a good note, set up our bullpen.”

Carrasco became the first Indians pitcher (since at least 1908) to record 12 strikeouts through just five innings of work and the first to do so with 90 pitches or fewer.

“I think it's part of the game, but I love to strike out people,” Carrasco said with a grin. “To have 12 strikeouts in five innings, I think that's good.

“I just talked to [catcher] Roberto [Perez]. Then for 90 pitches, I never said ‘no.’ Everything ‘yes.’ I'm going to throw whatever he puts down because he knows what we're going to do. So sometimes that's weird because we like to check, but I didn’t do it today. I just followed him and I trust him.”

Entering Saturday, the Tribe’s starting pitchers ranked fourth in the American League, fanning 51 batters. Carrasco’s total now gives the rotation 63 strikeouts through eight contests. Corey Kluber has nine (through 10 1/3 innings), Trevor Bauer has logged 17 (14 innings), Carrasco has 16 (9 1/3 innings), Mike Clevinger has fanned 12 (seven innings) and Shane Bieber has recorded 11 (eight innings).

Bullpen staying strong

The Indians knew they’d have to rely on a lot of innings from their starters this season in order to be successful, but the Tribe’s bullpen has stepped up when called upon, including after Carrasco was pulled after five frames on Saturday. Dan Otero, Tyler Olson, Adam Cimber and Jon Edwards combined to toss four scoreless innings. All of Cleveland’s pitchers have accounted for 88 K’s in eight games, breaking the franchise record of 82 in that span that was set in 2015.

“It's early, but you like seeing guys get confident,” Francona said. “Cimber, I thought last night was huge for Cimber, because we need him to be somebody that really we can go to. We're trying to monitor guys' workloads and even out the workload early, because it is early. And so far, they're doing OK.”

Stamets' first big league hit

Shortstop Eric Stamets snapped an 0-for-16 streak, hitting a double off the left-field wall for his first Major League hit.

“It was awesome,” Stamets said. “Obviously, I hadn’t been making a lot of contact. It was good to get that monkey off my back and I can relax a little bit and just let them come now.”

Francona said that Stamets was doused with beer by his teammates in the shower after the game, celebrating his accomplishment.

“I had to go take some pictures outside, so I let them set up shop before. That was not cool,” Stamets said. “[They] just poured a bunch of random stuff on me. … That’s all I’ll say.”

J-Ram heating up

Jose Ramirez had a slow start to the season, hitting just 3-for-22, but had a nice day at the plate on Saturday, going 2-for-5 with a double and two stolen bases. He scored two of the team’s season-high seven runs.

“Yeah, he's swinging the bat good,” Francona said. “The ballpark plays so big in April, as we've seen. But he hit the ball to left good and then he smoked the ball to center. That'll be the least of our worries, him hitting. He'll be just fine.”