Carrasco gives Tribe a big lift with save
JUN 17, 2014 12:04a ET
CLEVELAND -- With Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton due up in the ninth, otherwise known as the Angels trio that can make life a living hell for any pitcher, the Indians put their home winning streak in the hands of the last person you would expect.
With Cody Allen not available, Terry Francona let Carlos Carrasco pitch the ninth inning Monday night. While fans were bracing for the worst considering Carrasco's struggles early in the season, the right-hander retired the side in order to earn his first Major League save as the Tribe held on for a 4-3 victory at Progressive Field.
The win is Cleveland's 10th straight at home and puts them a game over the .500 mark. With Kansas City beating Detroit, the Indians are 2½ games within the Tigers in the AL Central.
"Carrasco came in and pitched really, really well," Francona said. "That's a huge lift for us. When we can stay away from everyone in the bullpen and win a one-run game going through that lineup, I thought Carlos deserves a ton of credit."
Going into Monday's game, only one Tribe starter had worked more than six innings the past six games with the bullpen working 23 1/3 of 52 innings. Trevor Bauer worked 6 2/3 innings and threw 119 pitches, which is the most by an Indians' starter this season, before giving way to Carrasco.
In 2 1/3 innings Carrasco struck out four of the eight batters he faced and allowed only one hit and one walk. It is the first save by a Cleveland pitcher of at least two innings in a one-run game since Rod Nichols on June 19, 1991, at the White Sox.
"The way Carlos was pitching we didn't want to take him out. I think today there was no reason to take him out," Francona said.
The only time Carrasco got into any trouble was in the eighth when he issued a leadoff walk to Raul Ibanez. He stuck out Chris Iannetta and then catcher George Kottaras made a great throw down to second to get Ibanez stealing.
In the ninth, Carrasco got Trout to ground to second on a 2-2 fastball and Pujols to fly out to third on a 0-2 slider. With Hamilton, the first pitch was a curveball low, but he then got him swinging on three straight sliders with the last two running a little inside.
"Carlos did a real good job coming in," said Bauer, who got the win to improve to 2-3. "He looked comfortable and commanded the ball well. He went at guys and attacked them."
Of Carrasco's four strikeouts, all third strikes came on sliders. Of his 33 pitches (21 strikes), 18 were sliders with 11 fastballs and four curveballs. He also worked exclusively out of the stretch.
"My mentality is way different. I'm attacking the hitters and using more breaking stuff," Carrasco said. "It was a great opportunity to do my job and that's what I did. I need to pitch and get outs."
As a starter, Carrasco was 0-3 with a 6.95 ERA, allowing 17 earned runs in 22 innings pitched. In his 13 games since moving to the bullpen, he has a 1.96 ERA (five earned runs in 23 innings) with 24 strikeouts and 5 walks.
In his last eight appearances, which have included a win and save, Carrasco has allowed only one earned run in 13 2/3 innings with 15 strikeouts while allowing just seven hits and three walks.
He has also improved his mechanics. Pitching coach Mickey Callaway said that Carrasco is doing a better job of keeping his arm up, which is something they worked on throughout Spring Training.
"For him to go out and do what he did tonight was huge. Hopefully that's a 'I'm a major leaguer now moment' for him too," Callaway said. "If we can get him to where we has a lot of confidence and we have a lot of confidence in him it will help us out a lot."