HOUSTON -- If there was any question whether Carlos Carrasco was OK after being sent for an MRI when he bruised his knee in his last start, he wasted no time on Sunday to prove he was at full strength. But after six innings of one-hit ball at Minute Maid
HOUSTON -- If there was any question whether Carlos Carrasco was OK after being sent for an MRI when he bruised his knee in his last start, he wasted no time on Sunday to prove he was at full strength. But after six innings of one-hit ball at Minute Maid Park, things quickly unraveled in the seventh.
Carrasco allowed a single to former teammate Michael Brantley in the bottom of the seventh, but was only one out away from escaping unscathed. But the third time through the Astros’ lineup proved to be a challenge, as Carrasco gave up four runs that led to the Indians’ 4-1 loss.
“That was a test of patience, really,” Astros manager AJ Hinch said. “He was as dominant as we’ve seen this year with his stuff, his execution. You talk about opportunities missed in games that are close. We had one opportunity, really. That’s how desperate he made us feel, like we had to do something to score one run.”
The seventh inning
The Astros tied the game on a Yuli Gurriel RBI double that traveled a projected 337 feet, according to Statcast, and hit off the left-field wall a few feet out of Jake Bauers’ reach.
“He got the fly ball to left that -- and I’m not taking anything away from that -- but in most ballparks, that’s an out,” Indians manager Terry Francona said.
Josh Reddick was then intentionally walked, setting up Robinson Chirinos for a 426-foot three-run blast that flew over the train tracks in left field, exiting the ballpark.
“Tried to throw a slider to Gurriel, but it was one of those that came inside to the middle and he just got it,” Carrasco said. “From that point, the game was like crazy a little bit. But before that, it was good.”
Carrasco turns a page
Carrasco’s final line -- 6 2/3 innings, six hits, four runs, two walks and eight strikeouts -- may not look too glamorous on paper, but he cruised with seven strikeouts through six frames.
“Oh, he was so good,” Francona said. “I mean, my goodness sakes. That was his kind of vintage -- velocity, breaking ball, changeup. … I thought he really pitched well. I know his line’s going to say he gave up four, but he was terrific.”
After getting off to a rocky start to the 2019 season, allowing 14 runs in 10 innings (12.60 ERA) in his first three starts, Carrasco did not allow a run for his next 17 consecutive innings until the Astros put up four in his final inning on Sunday.
“I put everything away, what happened the first three games,” Carrasco said.
Carrasco’s eight strikeouts bumped his career total to 1,168, surpassing Mel Harder (1,160) for sole possession of eighth place on the Indians' all-time strikeouts list.
“I just [found out right] now,” Carrasco said. “I think that’s good. When you get to something like that, it’s good.”
While Carrasco entered the seventh with a lead, he had very little breathing room, as the Indians’ bats were shut down with runners on, leaving 20 men on base. The Indians' lone run came on a homer to right field by Carlos Santana, marking the 33-year-old’s 200th blast of his career.
“Yeah, I knew for a long time,” Santana said of his chase for 200. “For the last year, I’ve been thinking about doing it. I’m happy to hit 200 home runs.”
The home run snapped Santana’s 0-for-10 streak at the plate.
“It’s nice to see him go the other way,” Francona said. “He hasn’t bailed on that. That’s good. If he uses the whole field, he’s gonna hit for a higher average and he’s still going to hit home runs and be very productive.”
Mandy Bell covers the Indians for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter at @MandyBell02.