Who is that man wearing #59 on the back of his jersey who has made two consecutive outstanding starts? It couldn’t possibly be Carlos Carrasco, could it? The same guy who three weeks ago looked like he was one more bad start away from a demotion, suddenly is pitching like the guy the Indians brass hoped he could be when he came over two summers ago in the Cliff Lee trade.
With the Indians offense asleep at the wheel again, Manny Acta had to rely on his pitching to save the day. Once again, Carrasco was terrific. Pitching seven innings of scoreless ball, Carlos got stronger as the game went on.
In the first inning, it looked like it was going to be another long night for the Wahoos. The Yankees loaded the bases with nobody out for Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano, and Nick Swisher. Carrasco reared back and retired all three without allowing a run to cross home plate. Quite a feat against those three.
In the second, Jorge Posada and Brett Gardner opened the inning with a single and a walk. Again, Carrasco worked out of trouble by striking out Francisco Cervelli, getting Derek Jeter on a fielder’s choice, and Curtis Granderson on a fly ball to left.
In the third he put two on with one out, but got Swisher to bounce into an inning-ending double play. From that point on, Carrasco retired 12 of the next 13 men he faced.
“I can’t say enough about the job he did,” Acta said. “It’s very tough against this lineup, in this ballpark, to keep them down like that.”
Meanwhile in an effort to spark the offense, Acta made wholesale changes to his lineup. Grady Sizemore moved back to the leadoff spot for the first time since his return from the disabled list. Carlos Santana, who has been hitting cleanup most of the year, was second. Michael Brantley, the leadoff man most of the year, hit third. The new cleanup man was Asdrubal Cabrera.
It was an effort to move the Indians two best and most consistent hitters (Brantley and Cabrera) into the middle of the order.
“We felt something had to be done,” said Acta. “We’re averaging fewer than three runs per game for the last 18.”
The revamped lineup yielded results similar to what we have seen during the three week skid. It was more of the same; not much to talk about and Brantley and Cabrera were responsible for the team’s lone run.
In the top of the fourth, Brantley laced a triple off of the glove of Swisher in right field with nobody out. It was a play Swisher could have (and probably should have) made. AC followed and singled him home. Naturally, Shin-Soo Choo, Travis Buck, and Cord Phelps failed to bring Cabrera home.
Side Note – I know it has been a week, but Phelps has looked very overmatched at the plate. If he doesn’t get his act together soon, his stay up here could be very short, especially with a roster move on the horizon with the return of Travis Hafner.
After Carrasco’s stellar seven innings, Acta turned to his bullpen. First up was Tony Sipp to face the lefty Granderson and the switch-hitting Mark Teixiera. Yankee Stadium was a house of horrors for Sipp last year, but he did his job last night getting both guys he faced. Teixiera’s deep fly out to center made us all nervous, but luckily it was an out. Acta then called on Vinnie Pestano to face A-Rod. After jumping ahead 0-2, he walked Rodriguez bringing Cano to the plate. Swinging at the first pitch, Cano flared out to Jack Hannahan at third.
The ninth inning was Pure Rage time. Chris Perez looked as good as he ever has striking out the side for his 16th save of the year. His control was spot-on and he showed more of his usual intensity that we love so much. Pure Rage was fired up after this one.
“We needed to start turning it around today,” Perez said.
I couldn’t agree more. As I said yesterday, this one was as close to a must win as you could possibly get for a game in June. It was only their second win in their last 11 games, both were 1-0 games started by Carrasco.
Chris Perez was very impressed by the 24 year old righty. “I think that’s a big step in his career, actually,” Perez said. “He showed some good stuff out there tonight. He was bearing down, making pitches against some pretty good hitters. They didn’t really make solid contact all night.”
Now if the offense could just wake up.
It going to be a tough task to do tonight as they start the huge three-game set in Detroit against the Tigers, who sit just percentage points behind the first place Tribe in the AL Central. They will be facing Tigers ace Justin Verlander (7-3, 2.89) who has owned the Tribe the last two years. The Wahoos will send their best, Justin Masterson (5-4, 3.18), to try and stop the Motor City Kitties. Masterson is still searching for his first win since April 26th.
(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)