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Carrasco shuts down Miggy-less Tigers

With Cabrera out of Detroit lineup, Cleveland hurler allows five hits over eight frames

CLEVELAND -- The Indians finally solved the Tigers in an 8-2 victory on Wednesday afternoon at Progressive Field. Maybe it all started when they looked at Detroit's lineup card and noticed Miguel Cabrera's name conspicuously absent.

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"[Pitching coach] Mickey [Callaway] and I were talking about that," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "His presence in that lineup, when you get down to the bottom of the order, you're thinking, 'Well, if this guy gets on, he's coming up.' But he couldn't get a bat today to reach the plate, and that was a good feeling."

Cabrera has dominated Indians pitching this season to the tune of a 1.697 OPS, going an otherworldly 26-for-42 (.619) with five home runs against the Tribe. Thanks in large part to his fearsome presence, the Tigers have compiled a 9-2 record against the Indians this year, and have won 16 of the past 19 dating back to last season.

On Wednesday, though, Indians starter Carlos Carrasco didn't have to worry about No. 24. He worked eight efficient innings, striking out seven while walking just one. In six of his eight innings, fewer than 15 pitches were required to get through the frame. The only two runs he allowed came on a home run by J.D. Martinez in the seventh.

Carrasco worked inside early to keep the Tigers' lineup honest and to later set up pitches away.

"I think it was important to throw inside," Carrasco said. "That's what I did from the beginning of the inning to the last one. I think that's more important to start throwing inside so all of the pitches down and away, they can't get."

With his opposition off balance, Carrasco went to his breaking balls -- his slider and curveball -- a season-high 41 times.

"He had a real good breaking ball right from the very beginning," Francona said. "And he threw it for strikes, and he threw it a lot. It was working and probably allowed him to get away with a few maybe later."

Thirty-four of Carrasco's 41 breaking balls went for strikes. He got 10 swinging strikes on the slider and another four from the curveball, which Carrasco cited as his best pitch of the afternoon.

Carrasco has now worked into the sixth inning in 11 of his 15 starts this season, and that includes the April 14 start in which he faced just two batters before being struck in the head by a line drive and removed from the game. Not including that start, Carrasco has averaged 6.3 innings per start, as the 28-year-old hurler looks to piece together a full Major League season for the first time in his career.

"That's one of the things we talked about when he was signing [his extension this offseason]," Francona said. "He's built to do that. He's a big, strong kid and has his surgery out of the way. He takes care of himself. That's a very important thing."

August Fagerstrom is an associate reporter for
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