Carrasco's near no-no lifts Tribe over Rays
ST. PETERSBURG -- Carlos Carrasco needed just one more strike to complete the Indians' first no-hitter in more than three decades. The big right-hander unleashed a slider to Rays outfielder Joey Butler and gave up a single that averted history.
Carrasco was unable to complete a no-hitter, but the pitcher settled for an overpowering one-hitter that led Cleveland to an 8-1 victory on Wednesday night at Tropicana Field. Butler erased Carrasco's perfect game with a walk in the seventh inning and then dashed the righty's bid for a no-no with an RBI single to right-center field with two outs -- and an 0-2 count -- in the ninth.
"Everything was great," Carrasco said. "Everyone played good. I had my teammates, my defense. You know what? It's most important that we won today. That's most important."
It was the third time this season that a no-hitter was broken up in the ninth inning, and the second time it happened with two outs. On April 9, Trevor Bauer and three Indians relievers had a no-no broken up with one out in the ninth, and on May 17, Atlanta's Shelby Miller has his no-no broken up with two outs in the ninth.
Since 1961, there have been 40 no-hitters broken up with two outs in the ninth, but this is the first time it's happened to the Indians during that time. Two no-hitters have been completed this season: San Francisco's Chris Heston on June 9 and Washington's Max Scherzer on June 20. Mariners ace Felix Hernandez is the most recent American League starter to complete a no-no, doing so on Aug. 15, 2012, against the Rays.
Butler's ninth-inning single soared over leaping second baseman Jason Kipnis.
"I just started laughing," Carrasco said.
Carrasco -- affectionately referred to as "Cookie" by his teammates -- was pulled from the game after Butler's history-stopping hit, but received a standing ovation from the rival crowd. The pitcher doffed his cap in response before disappearing into the dugout. Carrasco finished with 13 strikeouts, 10 groundouts, two flyouts and one lineout in the 124-pitch effort, improving to 10-6 on the season.
"He really had the usual pop on his fastball," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "But his breaking ball was so good right from the very beginning. He could go to it. And because we scored some runs, you think you're going to enjoy it. I was shocked at how nervous I felt. It was fun to see how everybody reacted to him and to the circumstances."
Len Barker remains the last Indians pitcher to throw a no-hitter, doing so with a perfect game on May 15, 1981, against the Blue Jays.
Carrasco's bid came after fellow Indians starters Cody Anderson and Danny Salazar toyed with no-hitters in the first two games of this four-game series.
"Their pitchers, I mean they've been outstanding," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "Cody Anderson is a little bit of an unknown, but the other two guys, you could argue nobody has as good of stuff. It's like Chris Archer over there. Some similarities."
The Indians' offense provided plenty of support against Rays starter Alex Colome, who logged seven innings in the loss. Brandon Moss went 2-for-4 with a home run and five RBIs and Michael Brantley contributed an RBI single in the win to help power the Tribe's lineup.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Santana's slick play: Carrasco was dominant to the point that his bid for history did not require any incredible defensive plays through the first six innings. In the seventh, first baseman Carlos Santana stepped up, though. With Butler on first, Evan Longoria sent a sharp grounder up the line. Santana snared the ball, stepped on first for an out and made a quick relay throw to shortstop Mike Aviles to start a rundown. Butler was eventually tagged out by Santana to end the inning.
"That was a nice play," Francona said. "We did some good things. it was a good all-around game. Everybody's going to talk about Carlos, as they should, but it was still a good game."
Butler's business: On Monday night, Anderson was perfect through 19 batters before allowing a home run to Grady Sizermore. On Tuesday, Salazar was perfect through 15 batters before walking Tampa Bay's Asdrubal Cabrera. Carrasco fell right in line, flirting with a perfecto for 19 batters before issuing a one-out walk to Butler in the seventh inning. Butler then became the potential final out when he hit with two outs in the ninth. The count reached 0-2 before Butler lined a single to right. More >
"Our approach against him was to throw some fastballs," Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway said, "kind of keep him honest and then try to get him out down and away. That's what [Carrasco] was trying to do that last AB. He went three sliders down and away and he left the third one up."
Moss gathers five RBIs: Before Wednesday's game, Moss said that he has been frustrated of late by his inconsistency with getting hits in the at-bats between his home runs. In the second, the slugger had to feel good when he pulled a pitch into the right-field corner for a two-run double. Then, Moss added a towering three-run homer -- his 13th of the season -- in the eighth.
"He has the ability," Francona said, "when he does get hits and he gets hot, it won't be singles. You'll see production and that would be really helpful."
"We've got a lot of guys that are itching to get out of this little bit of a funk and I think we all have plenty of confidence that they'll do that." -- Cash, on the Rays' offensive slump
"If Kip would've been 6-foot-6." -- Francona, joking Kipnis being unable to catch Butler's hit
"I was so nervous. I wanted him to get it. He almost had it. That's a huge step. Not everybody throws a no-hitter in the big leagues and he was so, so close." -- Salazar, on Carrasco's gem
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Prior to this series, no Major League team in the Expansion ERA (since 1961) had three pitchers spin at least five perfect innings in three consecutive starts. More >
The Rays have been held to three hits or fewer in three straight games for the first time in club history. This has not happened in the Major Leagues since the Dodgers endured a similar stretch from June 19-21, 2012 at Oakland.
Indians: Reigning American League Cy Young Award-winner Corey Kluber (3-9, 3.66 ERA) is slated to take the hill on Thursday in the finale of this four-game set with the Rays at 12: 10 p.m. ET at Tropicana Field. Kluber has a 2.73 ERA and 81 strikeouts in 66 innings over his last nine starts, but only a 3-4 record to show for it due to a lack of run support.
Rays: Matt Moore will be making his 2015 season debut as he returns from Tommy John surgery. It will have been 451 days since his last start, April 7, 2014 at Kansas City. Moore was one of 26 Major League pitchers to have Tommy John surgery in 2014, and the first Rays Major Leaguer to undergo the surgery since Jason Isringhausen in 2009.
Watch every out-of-market regular season game live on MLB.TV.