Sep 7, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians relief pitcher Carlos Carrasco (59) celebrates in the dugout after the sixth inning against the Chicago White Sox at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
CLEVELAND – It took three years for Carlos Carrasco to snap a run of 17 starts before getting another Major League win as a starter. Four weeks later, he is on the best run of his career.
The right-hander came within one out of getting his first complete game as the Indians completed a sweep of the White Sox with a 2-0 win on Sunday at Progressive Field.
Carrasco, who improved to 7-4 on the season, allowed only two hits through eight innings but exited after giving up a pair of singles in the ninth and throwing 103 pitches with 74 being strikes. It also marked the seventh time this season that an Indians’ pitcher has pitched at least eight innings with eight strikeouts and no walks.
In his six starts since returning to the rotation Carrasco is 4-0 with a 0.70 ERA with 40 strikeouts and only four walks. He has allowed just three earned runs in 38 2/3 innings pitched and has struck out eight or more in three of his last four starts. Opposing hitters have a .179 average (24 of 140) with just five extra-base hits.
Carrasco pitched out of trouble in the second and fifth innings. In the second, Conor Gillaspie led off with a double and advanced to third on an Alexei Ramirez grounder before Carrasco struck out Andy Wilkins and got Dayan Viciedo to ground out.
In the fifth, Wilkins had a one-out double to right but Carrasco struck out Viciedo and Jordan Danks. Much like Corey Kluber was on Saturday, Carrasco was aggressive with his fastball early and went with the slider more as the game went along.
In a series in which the two teams combined for 10 runs, the Indians got one in the first when Michael Brantley singled in Michael Bourn and added an insurance run in the eighth when a Carlos Santana grounder with the bases loaded brought in Roberto Perez.
Carrasco was at 88 pitches after eight innings, but after giving up a single to Jose Abreu to put runners on first and second, he knew his day was done. Carrasco was disappointed but knew that it was the right move. Cody Allen came on to get the final out for his 19th save.
Said Allen of Carrasco: "He’s got unbelievable stuff. He’s very, very good. To see him transition back to the rotation and see him do as well as he has with the hard work. To see him have that type of success is awesome."
Since Aug. 9, the Indians rotation has an ERA of 1.84, which is the lowest in the Majors and have gone 17-8 in that span. After losing three of four to the Tigers, the Tribe got their fifth season sweep of the season and are within 3 1/2 of Seattle for the second Wild Card. They are also 8-4 during this run of 30 games in 30 days.
"We’re running out of months. Not days, but months. So, we need to make up some ground," Francona said. "I don’t know if you can go into a series thinking about a sweep, because I don’t think that’s a very productive way to play, but now that it’s over, it certainly helps. Now, it makes tomorrow that much bigger."