CLEVELAND -- Indians starter Carlos Carrasco does not know how to explain it. The Mariners feasted on his pitches during Carrasco's first outing of the season, and they did so again on Saturday at Progressive Field.In the wake of the Tribe's 12-4 loss to Seattle, manager Terry Francona made one
CLEVELAND -- Indians starter Carlos Carrasco does not know how to explain it. The Mariners feasted on his pitches during Carrasco's first outing of the season, and they did so again on Saturday at Progressive Field.
In the wake of the Tribe's 12-4 loss to Seattle, manager Terry Francona made one key observation about Carrasco's performance.
"It looked like he just lost his aggressiveness," Francona said.
And Carrasco did so against one of baseball's most aggressive lineups.
Seattle is quickly gaining a reputation as a group that likes to target early-count offerings to do its damage. That was the case in the first inning against Carrasco, who allowed a home run each to Jean Segura (2-0 count) and Nelson Cruz (1-0 count) in a three-run frame. Both blasts came on four-seamers over the heart of the plate.
When the smoke cleared, Carrasco was charged with five runs (four earned) on five hits in three innings. He also allowed five runs on March 31 in Seattle. While the season is still young, Carrasco has posted a 9.35 ERA in 8 2/3 innings overall vs. the Mariners, compared to a 1.23 ERA in 29 1/3 innings against other opponents.
"I didn't have my fastball, kind of my fastball command," Carrasco said. "The two homers were fastballs up. So, when I was coming with my slider, I don't know if they knew it or something, but they took a lot of good swings. You just give them credit about that."
Complicating things for the Tribe was that Carrasco said he lost his footing momentarily on the dugout steps while heading out for the third inning. The pitcher jarred his back, and the issue impacted his velocity. In a two-run third for the Mariners, Carrasco's four-seamer averaged 90.8 mph, compared to 94.1 mph in the first inning.
Under the circumstances, Francona opted to get Carrasco out of the game.
"Rather than make something that wasn't a good day worse," Francona said, "we got him out of there and tried to piece it together the best we could."
The wealth of early offense helped Seattle starter Mike Leake to his third win of the year. Leake logged six innings and yielded four runs on six hits, including Yonder Alonso's team-leading eighth home run of the season for Cleveland.
Seattle continued to pile on the runs in the fourth against reliever Zach McAllister, who allowed five runs -- two via a homer by Kyle Seager. Ryon Healy later added a two-run homer of his own off Dan Otero in the ninth. Those shots also fit within the Mariners' modus operandi, coming on a 1-0 count and the first pitch, respectively.
Entering Saturday, the Mariners ranked third in the Majors with a .653 OPS on 0-0 and 1-0 pitches combined, per Statcast™. That was well above the MLB average of .553. Against Cleveland, Seattle's lineup posted 13 total bases in seven at-bats ending with those particular counts.
"They're one of the more aggressive [lineups] in the league," Francona said. "We knew coming in, when they see it, they're swinging. You make a mistake, they can do some damage."
Carrasco has learned that lesson twice already this season.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Yonder times three: Seattle's slugfest pushed a strong showing by Alonso to the background. The Tribe first baseman had three RBIs, including two that came on a homer off Leake in the fourth inning. With that blast, Alonso has now launched a home run in three consecutive games for the first time in his career. He has posted a .738 slugging percentage in 42 at-bats over his past 11 games for the Indians.
"He's been really productive," Francona said. "We're going to need it. Guys are going to heat up, but it's nice to see him drive the ball like that."
Stealing a run: With one out in the third inning, Segura broke for second base with Cruz in the batter's box. Catcher Roberto Perez fired the ball wildly up the middle and into center field, allowing Segura to sprint to third after his steal. That paved the way for an RBI single from Cruz. It marked the third throwing error of the year for Perez, who had no such errors in 580 2/3 innings behind the plate last season.
"Trying to rush," Francona said of Perez's errant throw. "It seems like it's when he knows he has to make a perfect throw, and he's throwing it low. It's happened a couple times now. He'll be OK. I know it's happened, but he'll be all right."
The loss for Carrasco snapped the right-hander's streak of 10 consecutive winning decisions (within a span of 12 starts). That run dated back to Aug. 27 of last season for Carrasco, and marked the longest such decision streak for a Tribe pitcher since Cliff Lee's 11-0 stretch during the 2008 campaign.
Righty Josh Tomlin (0-3, 9.24 ERA) will aim to get back on track on Sunday, when the Indians host the Mariners at 1:10 p.m. ET at Progressive Field. Tomlin went 6-0 with a 3.11 ERA in his final 10 games last year, but has stumbled out of the gates in '18. Lefty Marco Gonzales (2-2, 4.37 ERA) is slated to start for Seattle.
Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.