SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- A few hours before Carlos Carrasco took the mound at Hiram Bithorn Stadium on Wednesday, the pitcher emerged from Cleveland's clubhouse holding a box filled with Indians hats and shirts. He proceeded to walk down the left-field line, passing them out to kids in the
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- A few hours before Carlos Carrasco took the mound at Hiram Bithorn Stadium on Wednesday, the pitcher emerged from Cleveland's clubhouse holding a box filled with Indians hats and shirts. He proceeded to walk down the left-field line, passing them out to kids in the stands.
Carrasco and the rest of the Indians and Twins players understood that this unique series -- two games on an island still in recovery from Hurricane Maria -- was bigger than the box scores. This was an opportunity to give back, which the teams did both on and off the field. And on Wednesday, the clubs put on a show that lasted deep into the night, a 2-1 victory for Minnesota that ended in the 16th inning.
"This was really important for Puerto Rico and the fans," Carrasco said. "Everyone knows what happened on Sept. 20. I'm glad I got to play here with my teammates. I got to pitch here. It was incredible to play here. It was unbelievable."
:: Puerto Rico Series coverage ::
Over the past three days, this has been a celebration for Puerto Rico, which is where Cleveland players Francisco Lindor and Roberto Perez were born, as well as Minnesota's Jose Berrios and Eddie Rosario. In Tuesday's 6-1 victory, Lindor launched the decisive home run that rattled Estadio Hiram Bithorn. On Wednesday night, Berrios equaled the seven shutout innings spun by Carrasco, who worked with Perez behind the plate.
Rosario scored the series' final run, crossing home after a Ryan LaMarre single in the 16th.
Earlier in the day, Perez spent time with his mother, Lilliam Martinez, whose house in Mayaguez was destroyed when Hurricane Maria overtook the island in September. During Monday's off-day, Lindor went back to his former grammar school in Gurabo. Eighteen families with children attending Escuela Villa Marina -- where Lindor once tossed baseballs against the classroom's cement walls -- were displaced due to the violent storm.
Many of the fans in the ballpark lived through the hurricane and were issued a harsh reminder early Wednesday, when another island-wide power outage struck the U.S. territory. Power was restored to the stadium, where the crowd filled the air with singing and a steady rhythm of drumbeats and maracas throughout the longest MLB game in ballpark history.
"This is a moment that I won't ever forget," said Perez, who was emotional after saying goodbye to his mom and brother after the game. "I'm going to live with this the rest of my life."
Like many of the players on the trip, Carrasco did his part for the island, too.
After the hurricane last year, Carrasco's foundation sent food, water, funds and supplies to Puerto Rico to aid in the recovery efforts. On Monday, the pitcher received a letter of gratitude from Puerto Rico Gov. Ricky Rossello and a gift from San Juan's vice mayor, Rafael Jaume. Carrasco has also led initiatives to assist children in Cleveland, the Dominican Republic and his native Venezuela.
Carrasco has long looked up to Hall-of-Famer Roberto Clemente, who was known as much for his skills on the field with the Pirates as his charitable work off it. A large portrait of Clemente is painted on an outer wall of Hiram Bithorn Stadium, greeting all who arrive at the ballpark's front gates.
"I give thanks to Roberto Clemente, because he opened the door for everyone," Carrasco said. "We can give back the same way he did. I want to keep doing that."
As a team, Cleveland's players donated a full playoff share from last season to assist in efforts around Lindor's former stomping grounds, as well as in the region where Perez grew up. The Indians would have loved nothing more than to walk away with wins in both contests, but this series was about more than the final score.
"They treated us really well and I think they saw pretty good baseball," Indians manager Terry Francona said of the fans. "All in all, I think it was pretty successful for Major League Baseball."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Trading home runs: Following 13 consecutive shutout innings from both sides, Indians slugger Edwin Encarnacion broke the deadlock with a one-out homer in the 14th. His solo blast off Trevor Hildenberger caromed off the pole down the left-field line to put Cleveland ahead, 1-0. Miguel Sano responded with a first-pitch, no-doubt blast into the left-field seats against Matt Belisle in the bottom of the inning to pull the game into a 1-1 tie.
"We had [the lead] for one pitch. It didn't last long," Francona said. "And then it comes down to, when you get to that point, who makes a mistake. And we did. We had some chances. We didn't execute bunts. And it caught up with us."
Tribe can't capitalize:Yan Gomes led off the 15th inning with a double into the right-field corner and was soon joined on the bases by Brandon Guyer, who was hit in the head by a pitch from Alan Busenitz. That created an opportunity for Cleveland, but Lindor followed with a strikeout and Jason Kipnis grounded into a 4-6-3 double play to bring an abrupt halt to the inning.
The 16-inning game was the longest regular-season Major League contest held outside the continental United States and Canada in baseball history. The previous record for Hiram Bithorn Stadium was a 14-inning game between the Expos and Angels on June 5, 2003.
Following an off-day, the Indians will open a four-game series with the Orioles with a 7:05 p.m. ET tilt on Friday at Camden Yards. Righty Trevor Bauer, who is 0-3 with a 7.63 ERA in his career in Baltimore, will start for Cleveland. He will be opposed by Orioles righty Dylan Bundy.
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.