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Saturday Recap: Indians use long ball, Carlos Carrasco to sink Ubaldo, Orioles

Perhaps we are finally seeing the Carlos Carrasco we thought we were getting back in 2009.

Jason Miller

Game 122: Indians 6, Orioles 0

Box Score

Indians improve to 62-60

The Indians scored six runs off LGFT Ubaldo Jimenez, knocking him out in the fifth inning, but the real story of this game was the second straight outstanding outing by Carlos Carrasco.

It has now been over five years since the Indians acquired Carrasco from the Philadelphia Phillies. Carrasco was one of the best pitching prospect in baseball when he was traded, and was already on the cusp of pitching at the major league level. But initial stints in the rotation failed, and then Tommy John surgery took away 1.5 seasons. When Carrasco was banished to the bullpen early this season it seemed that Carrasco's chances had run out, at least as part of the rotation. And it seemed a colossal waste of talent even if Carrasco eventually became a key back-end reliever. For he was and remains a four-pitch pitcher, with a fastball sitting in the mid-90s.

But thanks to Justin Masterson's departure, another other reasons, he was moved back into the rotation, and at least through two starts it seems that finally things have clicked. Tonight he dominated the Orioles, a club the leads the league in home runs, a club that feasts on mistake pitches. Carrasco didn't make any mistake pitches, and after getting out of a couple mini-jams in the first few innings, he finished strong, retiring the last 15 batters he faced. Pitching out of the stretch, an artifact of his bullpen experience, he pounded the strike zone with both his 94-96 mph fastball and his array of off-speed pitches, rarely going deep into a count and rarely getting even close to the middle of the plate. He left the game having thrown only 79 pitches, and certainly could have gone deeper into the game had the situation called for it.

The Indians faced a familiar foe tonight in Ubaldo Jimenez. Ubaldo had just returned from a month-long stint on the Disabled List, and is going to play an important role in Baltimore's playoff push. His former teammates greeted him rudely in the first inning with three runs, all off the bat of Carlos Santana. The inning was set up by two walks, and Santana didn't let Jimenez off the hook, nailing a pitch over the fence in right-center. After that initial shock, Jimenez settled down for several innings, but in the fifth the Indians knocked him and the Orioles out of the game. Chris Dickerson led off the inning with the double, and came home on a Jose Ramirez single. Then Michael Brantley delivered the finishing blow, a two-run homer. With five of their six runs on the evening coming on home runs, the Tribe aped the Orioles' usual plan of attack.

  • Michael Bourn, who was activated before last night's game but didn't play because a left-hander was on the mound, made his first appearance since early July. He returned to his customary leadoff spot, and Jason Kipnis moved down to fifth in the order.
  • Ubaldo wasn't the only former Indian (or former Cleveland farmhand) that appeared for the Orioles tonight. TJ McFarland, who the Orioles selected in the Rule 5 draft in the 2012-2013 offseason, relieved Jimenez, throwing 1.2 shutout innings. And Cord Phelps, who appeared for the Indians in 2011, 2012, and 2013, made his Baltimore debut tonight as a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning.
  • Terry Francona, for some strange reason, used Bryan Shaw in the ninth inning after Nick Hagadone had given up a hit with one out. I understand that Hagadone was facing a right-handed hitter, but it was still a six-run lead at that point. Shaw has been one of the most-worked relievers in the league, so why not give him a night off with another off day coming on Monday?
Win Expectancy Chart

Source: FanGraphs

Roll Call

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