Carrasco mighty 'good' in historic 1-hit gem
KANSAS CITY -- Carlos Carrasco was not feeling like himself. After only one inning of work on Friday night, the big right-hander felt sluggish and decided it was probably in the Indians' best interest to inform manager Terry Francona right away.
"I'm going to be honest with him," Carrasco said after the Tribe's 6-0 win over the Royals at Kauffman Stadium. "I said, 'Hey Tito, if you see me look different in the game, it's because I'm down a little bit.'"
In the wake of an overpowering masterpiece from Carrasco, Francona cracked a smile.
"I kind of hope he feels lethargic next time," quipped the manager.
During their brief exchange in the dugout early in Friday's victory, Francona told Carrasco to go as hard as he could until he could go no more, necessitating a call to the bullpen. The pitcher obliged with a one-hit shutout that included 15 strikeouts, representing not only one of the most dominant efforts in franchise history, but in Major League history.
Carrasco became only the 11th pitcher (done 16 times) since at least 1914 to have a shutout consisting of at least 15 K's and no more than one hit surrendered. Names on that short list include Clayton Kershaw, Kerry Wood, Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver and Warren Spahn, among others. Carrasco is the first Cleveland pitcher to accomplish that brand of pitching line.
The previous Indians record for strikeouts in such an outing was 13 by Bartolo Colon (Sept. 18, 2000) and Hall-of-Famer Bob Feller (once each in 1939 and '40).
The ballpark's nickname -- "The K" -- was certainly fitting on this night.
"He was unreal today, man," Indians catcher Roberto Perez said. "It almost seemed like they didn't know what was coming."
The victory helped the Tribe pull within three games of the Astros in the race for the American League's second Wild Card.
Carrasco, who carried a no-hitter through 8 2/3 innings against the Rays on July 1 with Perez behind the dish, flirted with history again for 6 1/3 innings this time around. With one out in the seventh, Royals outfielder Alex Rios (one of the few regulars in the lineup) sent an inside fastball up the middle for a single. Perez had called for a slider.
"The previous pitch before the hit was a slider and he swung," Perez said. "I was thinking then, I wanted the no-hitter."
Shaking off Perez's call was Carrasco's lone misstep.
"I wanted to throw inside," the pitcher said. "I shook to a fastball, because I threw one before and he missed, and it looked like he was uncomfortable with that. That's why I went with a fastball insider and he got it. I think he knew it [was coming]."
Following that hit, Carrasco pressed his foot on the gas.
The righty struck out the next six batters in order before inducing back-to-back groundouts to finish the game. Carrasco's 113-pitch gem featured 78 strikes, and all 15 punchouts came via swings. All told, he generated 26 swings and misses, while dominating the Royals with all of his pitches. Five strikeouts came via his slider, five more courtesy of the split-change, three on fastballs and two on curves.
That kind of effort elicited a one-word reply to the question: What was working for him?
"Everything," Francona said.
Carrasco's Game Score of 98 matches the franchise record for a performance of no more than nine innings. Corey Kluber also reached that mark on May 13 this season in an 18-strikeout, eight-inning classic against the Cardinals. Prior to that, the two other instances came in Len Barker's perfect game (May 15, 1981) and Dennis Eckersley's no-hitter (May 30, 1977).
Rattling off some of the names and years brings a smile to Carrasco's face.
"I didn't know any of that," he said. "To hear that, that makes me feel good."
In the clubhouse after the win, Carrasco was feeling much better than after the first inning.