Carrasco avoids scare, K's 11 in win over Twins

Starter tosses 7 2/3 scoreless, eludes sharp liner; Ramirez knocks in 3, makes nice play

August 29th, 2018

CLEVELAND -- managed to laugh as he stood on the mound, being examined by one of the Indians' athletic trainers. The Tribe pitcher has seemingly become a magnet for comebackers, but this one was nothing more than a scare.

The ball that sent sharply up the middle in the fifth inning on Tuesday night knocked Carrasco to the dirt, but merely nicked his glove. The big righty shook it off, took his place back on the rubber and continued his overpowering outing in an 8-1 victory over the Twins at Progressive Field.

"It didn't sound good," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "I was so relieved when it was his glove. He turned around and told us right away that it hit his glove, but I had my momentum going that direction, so I kept going just to check on him."

Following a much-needed off-day at home on Monday -- Cleveland's players looked drained by the end of a stretch of 13 road tilts in a 16-game stretch -- Carrasco blanked Minnesota's bats over 7 2/3 innings. The Tribe's No. 2 starter piled up 11 strikeouts, scattered four hits and issued two walks en route to the win.

With that showing, Carrasco improved to 16-7 with a 3.38 ERA on the year for the Tribe. Carrasco joins (17-6) of the Yankees, (16-5) of the Rays and teammate (16-7) as the only pitchers in the American League with at least 16 wins this season. Carrasco now ranks seventh in the AL with 4.1 WAR (per Fangraphs).

"He was sharp," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "The game looks flat when you don't swing the bats particularly well and you're striking out. His fastball was good, and we all know his slider-changeup combination is tough, especially to those righties. [We] didn't have many opportunities."

The AL Central-leading Indians (75-56) struck for five runs against Twins starter in his 5 1/3 innings. (two-run double and sacrifice fly) and (a pair of RBI singles) led the charge for Cleveland. Rookie also knocked in two runs via groundouts.

Minnesota's best chance against Carrasco arrived in the third, when Joe Mauer doubled and drew a walk with two outs. The Tribe starter escaped that momentary lapse by inducing an inning-ending flyout to center off the bat of .

Adrianza created a collective gasp from the Cleveland crowd in the fifth by sending a first-pitch heater from Carrasco back to the mound with a 99.8-mph exit velocity. As the pitcher moved to avoid being hit, the baseball struck the heel of his glove. Carrasco was tended to briefly on the mound, but he was unharmed.

At least for a moment, it was reminiscent of June 16, when Mauer drilled Carrasco in the right elbow with a comebacker, forcing the pitcher to the disabled list. Carrasco had his right hand fractured by a liner from in 2016 and was also hit in the head by a ball sent back to the mound by in '15.

Carrasco sidestepped any such setback this time and held the Twins in check for the duration of his latest gem.

"I said between innings, 'If you look at it, I'm the only one that's gotten a lot of line drives back to me,'" Carrasco said. "I'm glad nothing happened. Everything is fine. It's part of the game."

Eric Byrnes stops by Progressive Field during charity trek

MOMENT THAT MATTERED

Breaking through: Per Statcast™, Ramirez had seen fastballs in just 45.7 percent of pitches thrown to him in the month of August entering Tuesday. That was the lowest percentage among MLB hitters with a minimum of 100 tracked results for the month. The Tribe slugger had subsequently gone 1-for-18 off breaking pitches in August. Against the Twins, Ramirez's single in the fifth came off a curveball. One inning later, Ramirez sent a changeup to left-center for a two-run double that gave Cleveland a 6-0 lead.

"Sometimes you have to earn them," Francona said of pitchers throwing fewer fastballs to Ramirez. "He got a little impatient after a while. He's OK, though. He's just fine."

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS

With a runner on first and two outs in the fourth inning, Minnesota's Jake Cave sent a pitch from Carrasco bouncing through the grass to the left of the mound. Ramirez, who was shifted toward the shortstop position to guard against Cave pulling the ball, rushed in and grabbed the roller with his bare hand. The third baseman fired it to at first on the run, nabbing Cave by a step for a highlight-reel out to end the inning.

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY

Ramirez snapped out of an 0-for-10 drought at the plate in the fifth inning, when he sent a chopper to Twins third baseman and narrowly beat the throw to first. The Twins challenged the safe call, but the ruling stood following a replay review that lasted one minute and 22 seconds.

SOUND SMART

The Indians have won 11 of their last 12 home games against AL Central opponents and improved to 39-19 (.672 winning percentage) on the year against divisional foes. That is the second-best intra-division winning percentage in MLB this season, trailing only the Red Sox, who are 45-19 (.703) in the AL East.

UP NEXT

Right-hander (4-4, 5.09 ERA) is scheduled to start for the Indians on Wednesday, when the club hosts the Twins at 7:10 p.m. ET at Progressive Field. Plutko has a 3-1 record with a 4.88 ERA at home this season. Minnesota will counter with right-hander Kohl Stewart (0-1, 6.94).