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Carrasco's roll halted by Red Sox's might

August 22, 2018

BOSTON -- The two-strike curveball that Indians starter Carlos Carrasco fired to Andrew Benintendi dropped well out of the strike zone. It had the makings of an effective pitch -- until the Red Sox left fielder got low enough to slice the ball down the left-field line.As the baseball rattled

BOSTON -- The two-strike curveball that Indians starter Carlos Carrasco fired to Andrew Benintendi dropped well out of the strike zone. It had the makings of an effective pitch -- until the Red Sox left fielder got low enough to slice the ball down the left-field line.
As the baseball rattled around in the corner, the Red Sox were off to the races and Carrasco was facing an early trip to the showers in Fenway Park's tiny visitors' clubhouse. Carrasco has overpowered lineups for the better part of two months, but Boston's offense showed its might Wednesday night and dealt the Tribe a 10-4 loss.
"It's a reason why they're a good team," Indians catcher Yan Gomes said. "We were making good quality pitches and they were finding ways to put runs on the board."
The win for the American League East-leading Red Sox (89-39) snapped the club's three-game losing streak. Boston remains the only club in baseball to not lose four in a row this year -- similar to the streak Cleveland experienced in 2016. For the Tribe (73-53), which sits comfortably in first in the AL Central, the loss was its fourth in a span of 18 games.
Edwin Encarnacion -- fresh off the disabled list -- led the Indians' offense with a pair of home runs, but his powerful display was hardly enough.

Heading into the night, Carrasco (15-7) had fashioned a tidy 2.00 ERA over his past 12 appearances, piling up 88 strikeouts against nine walks in 67 1/3 innings in that span. Boston, however, has always presented a problem for the big righty, who has a 7.47 ERA against the club in his career.
"He was missing enough bats. He got his strikeouts," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "I just thought he got into that [fourth] inning and he couldn't locate in and then they started covering everything. They do such a good job of covering the plate. He'd throw a two-seamer away and they whacked it the other way."

Over 3 2/3 innings, Carrasco was charged with six runs (five earned) on eight hits, including one of the two home runs belted by Xander Bogaerts on the night. His shot off Carrasco opened the fourth in jaw-dropping style. Bogaerts got a curveball over the heart of the plate in an 0-1 count and launched it a projected 423 feet, per Statcast™, completely over the Green Monster in left-center.
That home run opened the floodgates for the Red Sox.

"[We were] a little bit more aggressive," Boston manager Alex Cora said. "I think we've been a little bit more passive lately. Sometimes you don't feel right, so you don't want to make outs early in the count. It seems like today they were ready to hit."
Ian Kinsler, Brock Holt and Blake Swihart followed Bogaerts' blast with three consecutive singles, bringing in the go-ahead run. Two batters later, Carrasco walked Mookie Betts to set up a bases-loaded situation against Benintendi. The lefty-swinging outfielder slashed the low breaking ball from the starter into left for a bases-clearing double, ending Carrasco's outing.
"They hit pretty good pitches. That's what happened," Carrasco said. "That double right there [by Benintendi], I threw that slider down. He reached for that one and he just hit a double. That was three runs right there. But I think they hit pretty good pitches."

Even so, Gomes said he and Carrasco will need to figure out how Boston's plan against the pitcher led to the hits.
"We didn't do our job," Gomes said. "It gets frustrating, just because you think you did your job and then they get it done. So you're kind of like, 'What in the world is going on?' But it's one of those things where you go back and you start seeing their approach with guys on. I think that's something we'll look into more."

Edwin's Monster day: Encarnacion spent the past dozen days resting his right hand while on the disabled list. The veteran slugger looked just fine upon activation Wednesday. In the first inning, Encarnacion drilled a pitch from lefty Christopher Johnson 106.3 mph to left-center, where it landed atop the Green Monster for a two-run shot. In the fifth, the Tribe first baseman lifted an offering from reliever Richard Hembree down the left-field line. The high fly ball carried just enough to give Encarnacion the 32nd multihomer showing of his career.
"What's not good is we lost, but that's part of the game," Encarnacion said. "I feel healthy and that's good for me and for the team, because I know I can help this team to win games. And it's great when you're feeling 100 percent -- you can be yourself. I am right now and we'll keep going."

Shift change: With one out, runners on the corners and Swihart up in the fourth, the Indians utilized a pull-side infield shift. Shortstop Francisco Lindor was shaded up the middle behind second base. Carrasco fired an outside two-seamer to Swihart, who sliced the offering to the left side and into the outfield. The shift-beating single gave the Red Sox a 3-2 lead and helped Boston post its five-spot on Carrasco in the inning.
"We're going to have those days," Carrasco said. "[You] throw those perfect pitches [and give up hits]. Like to Swihart, the catcher, I threw that pitch down and away. He got a ground-ball [single] pretty much to shortstop right there. I think that was one of the best pitches I threw the whole night."

Insurance off Otero: Following the early exit by Carrasco, Francona tried to have right-handers Neil Ramirez and Dan Otero eat up some innings. The latter reliever ran into the homer woes that have plagued his campaign. Mitch Moreland belted a two-run homer off Otero in the sixth and then Bogaerts extended Boston's lead with a solo shot in the seventh. Otero has given up a career-high 10 home runs in 47 1/3 innings this season.

Encarnacion's first home run of the game gave the Indians 28 homers in the first inning this season, setting a single-season franchise record. The previous club mark of 27 first-inning home runs was set by the 2017 Tribe.

Right-hander Adam Plutko (4-3, 4.62 ERA) is scheduled to start for the Tribe on Thursday, when the Red Sox host the Indians at 1:05 p.m. ET at Fenway Park for the finale of a four-game series between the postseason contenders. Plutko allowed three runs over seven innings in his most recent start. Boston will counter with lefty David Price (13-6, 3.69 ERA).

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast.