Carrasco hit by liner, suffers jaw contusion
No signs of concussion for Indians righty, who returned to the ballpark after trip to hospital
CLEVELAND -- Everyone inside Progressive Field held their breath on Tuesday as Indians starter Carlos Carrasco lay face down on the side of the mound. A line drive off the bat of White Sox outfielder Melky Cabrera struck the pitcher on the right side of his face in the first inning, knocking Carrasco to the ground.
It was a frightening moment for Carrasco's team.
"That's not a good feeling," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "When he's just laying there, man, that's scary."
The Indians were counting their blessings in the moments after their 4-1 loss to the White Sox. The defeat was secondary on this night. Cleveland was thrilled to learn that X-rays on Carrasco came back negative and the pitcher was only diagnosed with a jaw contusion. There were no fractures, and no signs or symptoms of a concussion.
Everyone inside the Tribe's clubhouse was letting out a huge sigh of relief.
The results of the initial tests represented a best-case scenario.
"I can't believe that," Indians outfielder Brandon Moss said. "That nothing is fractured, with where that ball hit him and how it hit him, it's kind of a miracle. That's a scary moment for sure, when a guy gets hit in the face like that and goes down. Luckily, you don't see it too often."
The 28-year-old Carrasco was coming off a strong season debut, in which he struck out 10 and turned in 6 1/3 shutout innings in Houston on Wednesday. One day earlier, Cleveland signed him to a four-year, $22 million extension that includes club options for the 2019 and '20 seasons.
Eight pitches into his second start of the season, Carrasco unleashed an 86-mph breaking ball to Cabrera, who sent the pitch back up the middle on a line. Carrasco raised both of his hands in a defensive move, and the baseball struck his glove and appeared to also glance off the fingertips on his right hand. Then, the ball hit Carrasco on the right side of his face.
Carrasco immediately fell to the ground and remained there for several minutes. The first player to run over was Cleveland third baseman Mike Aviles, who retrieved the ball from the ground and motioned to the umpires for a timeout. Cleveland's infielders convened around the mound, while head athletic trainer James Quinlan and Francona rushed onto the field to check on the pitcher.
"It's not a good situation," Aviles said. "And then you're sitting there and the whole time you're just looking at him, worried, 'Is he OK? Is everything all right?' You want to move him, but you don't want to move him. You don't even know what to do. It's kind of a helpless feeling for all of us."
As Quinlan treated and spoke with Carrasco, White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton -- on second base at the time -- crouched down and said a prayer. Cabrera removed his helmet and stood with Cleveland's infielders near Carrasco, checking to make sure there were signs that the pitcher was OK.
"It was real scary," Cabrera said through a translator. "But it's baseball. You can't control it once you hit the ball. I felt bad. I just wanted to see what happened. At the first moment, I thought the ball hit directly in his face, but then I realized it was on the side."
In a moment like that, rivalries are not important.
"That's beyond the baseball stuff," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "You just want to make sure that kid's all right. Any time a guy gets hit like that it's scary."
After a few minutes, two of Cleveland's trainers helped roll Carrasco onto his back. They then helped Carrasco to his feet and to a medical cart, which transported him off the field. As Carrasco was removed from the game, the right-hander held a hand to the left side of his face, and he received cheers from the previously hushed crowd on hand in Cleveland.
Tribe pitcher Zach McAllister was then called into the game in emergency relief.
"That's a tough situation," said McAllister, who logged 3 2/3 innings after Carrasco's unexpected exit. "You never want to see anything like that to any type of pitcher on a comebacker. ... Obviously, it was a little bit of a shock, just getting up and getting going right away."
Carrasco was transported to Lutheran Hospital in Cleveland, where he underwent X-rays and a CT scan, along with a variety of other tests. Francona noted that Carrasco returned to the ballpark before the end of the game and felt improvement each hour after the incident. The manager noted that Carrasco even did some arm exercises before heading home for the night.
"Obviously, we've got to check him in the morning and see how he's doing," Francona said. "But, I think in the big picture, we dodged a really big bullet."
Carrasco's teammates felt the same sense of relief.
"You couldn't ask for anything better than that," McAllister said of Carrasco's initial test results. "That was a line drive that was coming right back at him. To only walk away with it pretty much being swollen, that's a great situation."