CLEVELAND -- It would have been hard to predict the course of the evening four pitches into Carlos Carrasco's outing on Friday. Dustin Fowler greeted the right-hander by depositing a pitch deep into the right-field stands, drawing gasps from the Progressive Field crowd.When the time came for Carrasco to exit,
CLEVELAND -- It would have been hard to predict the course of the evening four pitches into Carlos Carrasco's outing on Friday. Dustin Fowler greeted the right-hander by depositing a pitch deep into the right-field stands, drawing gasps from the Progressive Field crowd.
When the time came for Carrasco to exit, that same audience was on its feet, offering an ovation for the starter's work in a 10-4 victory over the A's. In his return from the disabled list, following a liner off his right elbow on June 16 that proved to be more of a scare than anything of real concern, Carrasco showed that he is doing just fine.
"You don't want to go to the DL, miss a couple weeks," Carrasco said. "But at the end of the day, it's going to be worth it. From now to the last game of the season, I'm just going to go every five days, take care of myself, then we'll see [where we are] in the end."
Backed by a surplus of run support from Cleveland's usual suspects -- Jose Ramirez (two hits and three RBIs), Francisco Lindor (two hits, three runs), Michael Brantley (two doubles, one RBI) and Edwin Encarnacion (three RBIs) led the charge -- Carrasco picked up the win behind 5 1/3 solid frames. The big righty finished with seven strikeouts and no walks, allowing three runs (two on solo shots) on seven hits.
At the time of Carrasco's trip to the DL, there was some uncertainty at the back of Cleveland's rotation. During his absence, though, rookie Shane Bieber emerged as a surprising source of reliability. That was the silver lining, and now the American League Central-leading Indians (49-37) are hoping the in-season break can help Carrasco (9-5, 4.28 ERA) hit his stride for the season's stretch run.
"It's really great to have him back," Ramirez said via team translator Will Clements. "Everybody in the world knows what kind of a player Carrasco is, and what he's been doing this year. So, I'm super happy to have him back with us, and I'm glad for him that he's back."
Oakland broke through against Carrasco in the form of Fowler's long leadoff homer in the first and another leadoff shot from Matt Olson in the second. In the third, Carrasco found his rhythm, striking out the side on 11 pitches. The pitcher's only other blemish came in the fifth, when Fowler brought in another run with a bloop single to right.
"Early on, a couple fastballs got hit," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "But, [Carrasco] kept them in check, and he really found his breaking ball. There were a couple innings there where he threw six, seven, eight in a row, but they were so good and then our offense [came through]."
A's starter Paul Blackburn, who handcuffed the Tribe's offense one week ago in Oakland, did not fare as well this time around. In four-plus innings, Blackburn was charged with six runs (five earned) on seven hits. Jason Kipnis got things rolling with an RBI single in the second, and the Indians added three more in the third, and the lineup was off and running the rest of the way.
"We just faced [Blackburn]," Francona said. "And I thought our guys did a really good job on the bases tonight. We were really aggressive, but with intelligence. I thought they did a really good job."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
No help required: The A's had the makings of a rally in the fourth, when Carrasco hit Jed Lowrie, who moved to second on a single by Khris Davis and then advanced to third on a flyout by Olson. With one out and runners on the corners, Stephen Piscotty then chopped a pitch from Carrasco into the ground. The ball bounced high over the mound and up the middle, where Lindor glided to his left and gloved the ball as he stepped on second, and then he fired it on the run to first for a slick inning-ending double play.
"It was right at the bag," Lindor said. "As soon as I saw it, it was just a matter of continuing my step. I'm glad I'm able to dance."
Yes way, Jose: With runners on second and third base, fans down the right-field corner unleashed chants of "Jose! Jose-Jose-Jose!" as Ramirez stepped to the plate. First, Ramirez sent a deep foul ball rocketing into their section. Next, the Tribe slugger pulled a pitch from Blackburn off the right-field wall for a two-run, go-ahead double in the third. That plated both Lindor and Brantley, giving the Indians a 3-2 lead.
Great escape: Oakland pushed a run across in the seventh to trim the Tribe's lead to 6-4, and then loaded the bases with two outs. That set the stage for a critical battle between righty Neil Ramirez and Davis. After falling behind 2-0, Ramirez worked the count even and then enticed Davis to swing through an elevated slider for a rally-halting strikeout.
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
Following Carrasco's exit, Olson sent a pitch from lefty Marc Rzepczynski down the right-field line for a double. Tribe right fielder Tyler Naquin hustled over and got a strong throw in to Lindor, who made a swift hard tag on the runner, who was initially called safe. The Indians challenged the call, which was overturned after a review. Replays showed that Olson slipped off the base, while Lindor still had the tag on the runner's back. The play resulted in the inning's second out, and Lindor clapped his glove hard and pumped his fist as the crowd roared.
"I'm just going to get the ball to him," Naquin said. "I'm just going to put it somewhere around the bag and let [Lindor] do his thing. Let him do what Frankie does in the infield. The rest, he keeps that tag on him, bang. It's a big moment, too, you know? That's a lot of fun. It's been a while since I've been able to throw someone out."
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
The Indians transformed a close game into a rout with a four-run outburst in the seventh, but the highlight of the inning did not occur with the swing of the bat. With Encarnacion hitting, Ramirez broke from first base for second, drawing a throw from catcher Jonathan Lucroy. Lindor, who was on third base, then sprinted for home and beat the subsequent throw to the plate for an electrifying, run-scoring double steal.
"I'm trying to score," Lindor said. "I knew Josey was going to try to steal second. … The ball going to second, it was going to be higher than going to third. So, I made sure I had a good lead. As soon as I saw [Lucroy] stand up and [I saw] the ball's rotation, I just took off."
Ramirez and Lindor are the first Indians teammates in franchise history to each have at least 50 extra-base hits in the first half of a season. The last pair of teammates in MLB to accomplish that feat was David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez for the 2004 Red Sox.
Right-hander Corey Kluber (12-4, 2.64 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound for the Tribe on Saturday, when the Indians host the A's at 4:10 p.m. ET at Progressive Field. Kluber is 7-1 with a 1.60 ERA in nine starts at home this season. Oakland will counter with righty Edwin Jackson (1-0, 2.13 ERA).
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.