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Carrasco nearly matches Kluber's feat vs. Sox

MLB.com @MLBastian

CHICAGO -- Carlos Carrasco briefly pleaded his case in the visitors' dugout, but it was no use. After eight brilliant innings against the White Sox on Saturday night, the pitcher's night was done. Indians manager Terry Francona didn't give in to the pressure.

"We need him for the long haul," Francona said after Cleveland's 7-0 win at Guaranteed Rate Field. "My heart was saying yeah, but I just didn't think it made sense."

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CHICAGO -- Carlos Carrasco briefly pleaded his case in the visitors' dugout, but it was no use. After eight brilliant innings against the White Sox on Saturday night, the pitcher's night was done. Indians manager Terry Francona didn't give in to the pressure.

"We need him for the long haul," Francona said after Cleveland's 7-0 win at Guaranteed Rate Field. "My heart was saying yeah, but I just didn't think it made sense."

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No, Carrasco would not follow Corey Kluber's three-hit shutout with one of his own. The big right-hander came up one frame short to add a complete game to his career resume, but he understood Francona's decision. A win was in hand, and the Indians have designs on playing past September, so even a handful of pitches saved is beneficial for the reigning American League champions.

Cleveland's relievers are not quite at the point of scanning the classifieds for job opportunities, but the innings have been hard to come by of late with the way the Tribe's rotation has been rolling. The Indians have won five consecutive games, and the rotation has shouldered the bulk of the load, posting a 1.53 ERA over 35 1/3 innings over that span.

"We like these days," reliever Dan Otero quipped.

Kluber and Carrasco -- plus the three outs notched in the ninth by Zach McAllister -- have helped piece together consecutive team shutouts for the Indians for the first time since July 27-28, 2013. Kluber and Carrasco nearly turned in the first back-to-back individual shutouts for Cleveland since 1981. No player on the Tribe's active roster was born when Wayne Garland and Bert Blyleven achieved that feat.

After watching Kluber overpower Chicago's lineup with the help of a dynamic cutter Friday night, Carrasco leaned heavily on his slider to find success Saturday. That particular pitch accounted for seven swinging strikes, four called strikes, three strikeouts and an 0-for-4 showing on balls in play. The righty also effectively mixed in sinkers, four-seamers, curveballs and his split-change in a 106-pitch effort.

"You saw the game yesterday," Carrasco said. "It went so smooth for Klube when he threw his cutter. For me, that's my slider. Other than that, I just followed the plan that we had. The big key today was throwing first-pitch strikes and keeping them off-balance."

Through four starts this season, Carrasco now has a tidy 1.65 ERA to go along with 27 strikeouts and seven walks in 27 1/3 innings. He has allowed just 15 hits, limiting opposing hitters to a .163 average. That strong start comes after Carrasco was sidelined for part of Spring Training with inflammation in his right elbow.

Video: CWS@CLE: Carrasco fans seven over seven strong frames

Any lingering worries over Carrasco's health have swiftly disappeared.

"I admit we had some anxiety, just because he didn't pitch that much," Francona said. "But, coming out of the chute, he's been good since his first start. Now, he's stretched out where the game dictates when he comes out, as opposed to maybe a pitch count."

Against the White Sox, Carrasco wanted one more inning.

"He made the decision and said that's enough," Carrasco said of Francona. "That's OK. That's good. We have a good bullpen, and Zach came in and went one, two, three. That's why they're here."

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 listen to his podcast.

Cleveland Indians, Carlos Carrasco