No matter how many times you want to bury the Tribe, or how many times they seem to try and bury themselves, they just keep coming back and winning the series. A night after losing a game they should have won with their ace Corey Kluber on the mound, it was up to Carlos Carrasco to keep the Indians on their current track. The goal, obviously, is to win every game, but they continue to take two out of every three. After Thursday night’s 3-2 win in Chicago, the Indians are 15-9 in August and have won or tied their last six series. Its getting late, but the Wahoos and their incredible pitching staff are once again carrying this team to the finish.
A year ago it was Ubaldo Jimenez, Scott Kazmir, Danny Salazar, and Kluber who led them down the stretch. Now, its Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Salazar, and Carrasco who are leading the way. The biggest surprise has been Carrasco, the once failed starter turned quality reliever who has made a more than triumphant return to the rotation. August has been great to the hard-throwing right-hander who made his fourth starter last night on the South Side of Chicago and for the fourth time, he was dominant.
“You know, that’s what I’ve been doing the last few games — attack the hitters,” Carrasco said. “I just need to do my job and keep the team in there.”
Whatever he learned while pitching out of the bullpen has paid off in spades for the Tribe. Pitching strictly now out of the stretch, Carrasco continues to show the command he sorely lacked for so long. He is relaxes on the mound and the game has completely slowed down. The Sox had no answer for him during his six and two-thirds innings of work. Carlos would have gotten out of the game completely unscathed if not for a poor decision from their manager.
After the first of two Michael Bourn triples and some ballsy baserunning by the leadoff man gave the Wahoos a 1-0 lead, Carrasco settled in. With two out in the third and a runner on third, White Sox stud Jose Abreu stepped to the plate. A night earlier he was three for four and drove in a huge insurance run late in a Sox win. The guy is a flat out beast and one of about two guys you really worry about in that Chicago lineup. Even though it was the third inning, it was an absolute no-brainer to pitch around the All-Star and take your chances with whiff machine Adam Dunn. Instead, Carrasco went at Abreu who naturally singled in the tying run.
“We’re finding out the hard way,” Francona said, “that with two strikes, you can’t expand the plate too much with Abreu. He can reach just about anything. That’s been a thorn in our side, and probably the rest of the league, too. That’s the only run [Carrasco] gave up.”
That run was on you, Tito. If I know better, so should you.
The little offense that sometimes can had trouble with lefty John Danks, a guy who the Tribe has owned during his career. However, they made Carrasco a winner. In the sixth, Jose Ramirez—as hot a hitter as the Indians have right now—singled and stole second. After two failed chances to get him home from Michael Brantley and Carlos Santana, Jason Kipnis came up big in his hometown. His single the opposite way broke the 1-1 tie. After a 1-2-3 bottom of the sixth from Carrasco, Brantley’s two-out RBI single added to the lead.
Carlos would come out for the seventh, but left after giving up a two-out single to Tyler Flowers. Lefty Marc Rzepcyznski came on to reitre pinch hitter Dayan Viciedo which closed the book on Carrasco. His numbers: Six and two-thirds, one run, four hits, seven strikeouts and one walk.
“He came out, he established his fastball, he held it. Especially when he kind of saw the end coming, he reached back for a little more. He had a good touch on his breaking ball and his changeup,” said Francona of his starter.
Since his return to the rotation, Carrasco is now 3-0 with an 0.73 ERA and a 0.57 WHIP with 24 K/s to just three walks. Incredible considering this is the same guy who floundered so badly in April. All hail King Mickey Callaway.
Things got dicey in the eighth thanks to another ill-timed blunder from the defense. Mike Aviles’s two-out error allowed Dunn to come up and bloop and RBI single, moving the Sox to within a run, but closer Cody Allen came out to punch out Avisail Garcia. He would strikeout the side in the ninth to close out a dominating pitching performance from the Tribe.
The Indians now head into their most important seven-game stretch of the season. The good news is that catcher Yan Gomes should be activated tonight after a seven-day DL stint with concussion symptoms. Things start with a four-game series in Kansas City with the first place Royals, who sit five and a half games in front. If they any designs on taking the division, a series win at a minimum is a must, and a sweep is probably what they would need. They are four games back of the second Wild Card, which is currently held by both Seattle and Detroit.
The time is now. It will be Salazar who gets things started tonight. He will face off with lefty Jason Vargas.
(AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)