Indians 4, Angels 3: The Bauer & Carrasco show

Carlos Carrasco

Trevor BauerTrevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco deserve equal billing at the top. What they did last night on a hazy summer evening at Progressive Field can be described in one word: gritty. Two of the four guys who battled for the fifth starter job in Goodyear in March combined to shutdown the dangerous Los Angeles Angels in June to move the Tribe to within two and a half games of first place in the AL Central. The 4-3 win was all about these two power arms.

Lets start with Bauer. The 23-year old started the game with a scoreless frame, striking out two, but the next few innings were a struggle. He was staked to a 2-0 lead thanks to Asdrubal Cabrera’s first inning two-run blast off of Jered Weaver, but the old response runs reared their ugly head. In the top of the second David Freese and Howie Kendrick greeted Bauer with back to back singles. Chris Ianetta’s one out double skipped all the way to the wall past Michael Bourn to tie the game at two. But as he would do all night, Bauer got the biggest outs he needed. He retired John McDonald and Kole Calhoun to end the inning.

Bauer was given another lead in the third when Michael Brantley drove in Bourn with an RBI single. The Angels again responded with a sac fly from McDonald. The kid didn’t look long for the game when Calhoun singled and Trout worked a walk to load the bases for Albert Pujols. But Trevor shattered Albert’s bat on a ground out to third. Another major crisis averted.

Carlos Santana put the Indians back on top again with a solo homer to right field. The Tribe’s DH is really starting to heat up which is badly needed to stretch out the depth of the lineup. The one run lead in the fourth would stick for the duration. But who knew that Bauer would be the guy who would essentially get the Indians into the seventh inning? Through five innings, he bobbed and weaved his way through, giving up three runs on eight hits, but Terry Francona was desperate to get the kid as deep into the game as he possibly could.

The good news was that as the game got longer, Bauer got stronger. He came out for the sixth and worked around a two-out Trout walk before freezing Pujols with a knee buckling breaking pitch. At 110 pitches, he had to be done, right? Nope.

“I can go 130, 140, 150, 200, whatever,” Bauer said.

Bauer got Josh Hamilton and Freese to start the seventh before Francona emerged from the dugout. He was done at 119 pitches. It was yeoman’s work considering the tired state of the pen.

“I would’ve liked to last longer, be more efficient,” Bauer said. “I pitch every fifth day, so I’d rather go out there and be able to do that for the ‘pen and throw a lot of pitches. I train to be able to do that. Hopefully as time goes along I’ll be able to throw more pitches, especially on nights when I’m not as efficient as I could be.”

The guy is so focused on his craft. You don’t see him smile. All he cares about is concentrating on the art of pitching.

With Bryan Shaw, Cody Allen, and Marc Rzepcyznski all unavailable and Scott Atchison only to be used in emergency, Francona turned to Carlos Carrasco. I have been beating the drum for Carrasco to be a late inning reliever for a year. He has failed miserably as a starter but always showed an inning or two of flashes before his implosions. His stuff is built for this role. Last night, he continued to show that he could flourish.

Carrasco struck out Kendrick to end the seventh and then followed with a scoreless eighth. Francona had the newly called-up Mark Lowe warming in the bottom of the eighth, but how could he pull Carrasco for a guy who was in Columbus a night before? So out came Carlos for the top of the ninth. All he had to do was get Trout, Pujols, and Hamilton.

Not only did he notch the first save of his career, but he got the three All-Stars in order and with relative ease. The strikeout of Hamilton closed the game in impressive fashion. Carrasco’s two and a third scoreless couldn’t have come at a better time. The stuff was crisp and dominating. I’ve said it before and I will say it again – this is the place where Carrasco belongs and where he can thrive.

“My mentality is way different,” Carrasco said. “Attacking the hitter and everything … because the game was on the line, 4-3. I used more breaking stuff.”

Francona had Josh Outman and Atchison warming in the ninth in case Carlos ran into trouble, but he never did.

“I think today there was no reason to take him out of the game,” Francona said. “It’s a one-run game and you kind of have to prepare for that. But he executed pitches. Even after the lead-off walk (in the eighth), he speeds up his delivery, makes a pitch.”

Carrasco has made 13 appearances as a reliever and has allowed just five earned runs in 17.1 innings of work (2.05 ERA). No doubt last night will give Francona the confidence to add him into the late inning mix with his big three.

The Bauer and Carrasco showed brought a big win for the Tribe, their third straight. Once again, they are streaking. It is their 10th straight at Progressive Field, where they enjoy the best home record in the game.

Tonight brings a matchup of Josh Tomlin (4-3, 3.33 ERA) and the Angels right-hander Matt Shoemaker (3-1, 4.19 ERA).

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(photo via Thomas Ondrey/The Plain Dealer)

  • Harv 21

    What if …

    – various combos of Carlos, Kipnis, Brantley, Gomes, Cabrera and Chiz stay hot for extended periods?

    – last night it clicked for Bauer?

    – The whole “I want Carrasco’s electric stuff starting” thing was Tito’s own way of getting Carrasco’s fragile mind right to embrace the bullpen, a job with more appearances and less time to think and be out-thought?

    – The team’s gears are just now meshing, with a long 3 months still to go?

    This would be fun. Because I can’t do a whole summer of Johnny. It’s already about to come up on me and we’re still weeks from training camp.

  • nj0

    Not to pick nits (who am I kidding? That’s all I do), but I didn’t think Bauer’s performance was a “it clicked” sort of thing. It was more like his other performances this year, most of which have been part of his slow, positive evolution as a pitcher.

    I just want to be playing meaningful baseball into September.

  • Harv 21

    Only reason I dare to think it, per his pitching coach about him going deep in the game:

    “That’s what you look for in a major league pitcher,” Callaway said.
    “It’s almost like, ‘OK, you’re a major leaguer now.’ You can go out
    there when your stuff might not be the best and you can battle and give
    us six or seven good innings. … It gives you the confidence that you
    can pitch at this level no matter how good your stuff is that day.”
    http://www.cleveland.com/tribe/index.ssf/2014/06/cleveland_indians_los_angeles_1.html#incart_rive

  • nj0

    It does seem like he’s turned a corner this year. He’s not an ace or anything yet, but hes’ looking like a MLB pitcher. He is only 23 too. Plus, he’s showing some progression. Seems like a lot of young talented arms hit the majors and just can never break through. I’m just hoping he can be good enough to stick in the Majors and be a back end of the rotation guy.

  • nj0

    I think I was more excited about Asdrubal Cabrera’s errorless, home run hitting performance than the World Cup win. Love being American.

  • mgbode

    you will love this. ask people who has hit better this year between Carlos Santana and Jason Kipnis. Laugh when most people say Kipnis.

    Jason has a higher BA, but OBP and SLG% are now firmly in the Santana corner.

    Really though, that SLG% needs to go up for both of those guys. Our offense could really take off if they can get back to their norms.

  • mgbode

    I was more excited to see Bauer pitch. He is not the best Indian, let alone our best pitcher, but he’s the guy I root for the most. I get excited when his name comes up each time.

    Last night was really nice in that he was inducing a ton of ground balls and it seemed liked he froze the Angels on strikes much more than normal. He gave up too many hard hits as well though, so plenty of work to do.

  • nj0

    Nobody will listen. Jon has written forty-thousand articles explaining why Carlos is valuable and haters still hate.

  • mgbode
  • Hopwin

    I worry that we are becoming more depedent on the long ball again. Need to get back to small ball, advance the runner, hit singles.

  • mgbode

    Sad day as Pomeranz hits the DL with a broken hand. He hasn’t been as stellar as his ERA might suggest, but he’s been pretty good for Oakland. Always like to see former Tribesmen do well (as long as it doesn’t hurt us).

    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/eye-on-baseball/24591044/as-place-drew-pomeranz-on-dl-with-fractured-right-hand

  • nj0

    And Grady got DFA’d.

    At least it isn’t his pitching hand.

  • mgbode

    at least we got him out one more time. I could never get used to seeing Grady in a Red Sox uni anymore than I did Hafner in a Yankee one.