Indians

Indians 3, White Sox 2: Carrasco 2.0 does it again

Carlos Carrasco
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

 

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)

  • mgbode

    I’m okay with Tito letting Carrasco attack Abreu. He’s had success against him in the past (obviously small sample size) and I just like the manager having confidence in his starter. Doesn’t have to do that every time, but I’m not going to be upset with it either.

  • WFNYJon

    My first reaction was to second-guess the decision to pitch to him, but now I feel like that might be post hoc analysis.

    We had the platoon split, and walking Abreu to pitch to a LH Dunn with a guy who’s struggled with HRs throughout his career. I guess I can see the logic of going after Abreu instead of putting yourself in a position to lose the game early with a 3R HR…

  • nj0

    I’m probably in the minority here, but I don’t think Carrasco’s bullpen stint “taught” him anything. I think he’s always been this pretty good and Tito should have given him a longer leash earlier in the year.

    In his first round of starts: .361 BABIP
    In his lastest: .169 BABIP

    Not having Santana and Cabrera on the left side of the infield, not having Morgan/Murphy/Raburn in the outfield… those things help. Sadly, I think CC is pitching a little over his head right now so I’m sure people will get upset with him once he settles in as good starter.

    Been a fun year though. Wish the Central has having more of a down season though. Oh well. I think there’s a lot to be excited about right now. There’s also a lot of young guys in (or just out of) the minors that I’m excited about: Lindor, Urshela, Ramirez, Perez, Aguilar…

  • nj0

    I don’t like pitching around guys. I don’t have the stats in front of me, but I think (and I may be wrong here) it’s sort of like bunting in that it only makes sense in a very few instances.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I gotta give your boy credit he’s en fuego right now. Hope he keeps it up and fulfills the potential he always had!

  • mgbode

    HOF hitters get on base less than 40% of the time, so it seems like it would make sense to not give them the base (that is obviously not the full level of analysis though 🙂 ).

  • nj0

    Ted Williams got on base 48% of the time! Lot of high career OBPs!

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/leaders/onbase_perc_career.shtml

    But yes, I agree with your point.

  • mgbode

    I did not say ALL HOF hitters : )

  • mgbode

    Tabasco is obviously pitching over his head right now, but that’s okay. His plate control is much better this go-around and I’m not sure he learns to pound the strike zone and trust himself as he has been doing if he doesn’t go to the bullpen.

  • nj0

    Dude throws some heat.

  • nj0

    He’s mentally weak! A few months in the bullpen will cure of him of that!

  • Jason Hurley

    Watching hitters flail when you can transition between a 97 mph heater and an 85 mph changeup is a good time.

  • WFNYJon

    You make a really good point. Carrasco was never as “bad” as he looked early and he’s not as “good” as he looks now. So much of this is sequencing, luck, opponents, defense. He’s not going to have a 0.73 ERA for the rest of his career, because that’s not who he is. He’s a durable starter with three above average pitches. Those are the guys, by and large, you want in your rotation.

    It’s why I sort of went nuts about people claiming his earlier struggles were due to some character defect. That, to me, is not only lazy (which, let’s be honest, we all are sometimes), but it’s the sort of unfounded personal attack that I think can really stick with a guy.

  • mgbode

    In the bullpen, it’s less about thinking how to get a guy out 3 times. Just go out and get the guy out. I think that can be incredibly beneficial for a young pitcher.

  • nj0

    I completely agree. And if his time in the bullpen helped him in any way, it was most likely something mechanical rather than mental.

    It’s just crazy to me to think that a guy who has pitched his way from Venezuela to the majors was too mentally weak to start yet two months in the bullpen “toughened him up”. That’s just ridiculous. But people like narratives so they go with it.

    We’ve had some good players from Venezuela.

  • nj0

    You’re slipping bode! Wrong on this and the NFL moral policing. Two things in one day!

    http://www.cosmopolitan.nl/var/hearst/storage/images/media/images/820/1948331-1-dut-NL/8.gif

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I saw 99 again in the first and 97 at the end it was impressive. Perhaps just impressive is that slide piece. Did he always throw/use it? Looks Kluberesque.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    He errs it’s just nobody comments for fear he’ll reply five times. 😉

  • Steve

    How odd is it to say that I wish we could have gotten Kluber and Carrasco against the Royals instead of the Tigers?

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Could be given the way the Motor City Kitties r struggling.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I picked him up for last night and he did not fail me.

  • mgbode

    I am correct on the NFL moral policing. They do it to maximize their profits.

    This one is completely ambiguous, so I cannot say if I am correct or not. But, I cannot just agree with you on everything. We both comment too much, it would get boring 🙂

  • mgbode

    at least you are now willing to admit that you fear me

    http://31.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_ltn5dq6dcq1qbw75zo1_500.gif

  • nj0

    You’re even wrong about what you’re wrong about! I thought your claim was the NFL needs a moral compass to make those billions? That’s where you’re wrong (aka I disagree with). Keep reaching!

    http://gifshost.com/012010/1264355701_cat.gif

  • mgbode

    pretending to have moral compass = maximizing profits = making billions

    no reaching needed and I’m a dog person.

    http://www.teen.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/there-there-dog-petting-cat-kitten-cute-funny-golden-retriever.gif

  • nj0

    I don’t remember the pretending part in your original reply.

    http://i.imgur.com/URK2ysS.gif

  • mgbode

    It was an immediate clarification when you responded to that original reply 🙂

  • Woods

    I wouldn’t look at Carrasco’s stint in the bullpen as “toughening him up mentally”.

    From my sofa he just looked like he needed to relax on the mound.

    He seemed like he was so amped up in the first inning that he would fall apart quickly.

    It takes some guys a while to learn how to prepare properly to pitch every five days.

    If he learned something by being in the bullpen for three months then I will I applaud him.

    It is enjoyable watching him succeed at starting.

  • nj0
  • mgbode

    figured you would get that I was playing on the GIF you placed above where the dog just continues on his way despite the cat doing what it can to jump out at him. guess not.

    http://media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/736x/c7/63/09/c763093ab22d3b598a18559bf14df0d4.jpg