Tribe improves to 1-1
Carlos Carrasco made his major-league debut in 2009, at the age of 22. At the time it looked like he would quickly establish himself as a major-league starter for a club that was in the midst of rebuilding. Carrasco was one of the better starting prospects in baseball, and had just been the centerpiece of the deadline deal that sent Cliff Lee to Philadelphia.
But it didn't work out...at least right away. He spent a good portion of the 2010 season in the minors, then had an up-and-down 2011 before injuring his elbow and undergoing Tommy John surgery. Then, in his return to the majors, he was ejected and later suspended for throwing at a batter in the 2013 home opener. He would spend most of 2013 in the minors, then, out of options, he was moved to the bullpen after a poor start to the 2014 season. Carrasco remained in the bullpen until August, when another deadline deal (Justin Masterson) opened up a spot for him. It was probably going to be his final chance with the Indians. Something clicked, and Carrasco became the dominating pitcher we dreamed he'd be, five years after his debut.
So perhaps the best way to describe Carrasco's rise would be a sudden, gradual, overnight success. The 2009-2014 years for Carrasco may in the future be seen by baseball analysts and historians the same way Medieval cartographers saw the Atlantic Ocean: shrouded in mystery and filled with unexplained and scary things.
Yesterday Carrasco signed a contract that all of us would have thought ludicrous just a year ago. The deal will keep him in Cleveland through at least the 2018 season. If both options are picked up, he'll be with the Indians through the 2020 campaign. It will pay him at least $22M. The way he pitched tonight, that contract already seems a bargain. He blistered the Houston lineup, striking out 10 batters in 6.1 innings, allowing just four base runners. He was removed in the seventh not because he was pitching poorly, but because it was his first start of the season and wasn't quite stretched out.
It was a good thing Carrasco was dominant, for the Tribe bats were mostly silent. They were held scoreless on Monday, and didn't muster a run until the fourth inning, when birthday boy Carlos Santana broke the scoring silence with a solo home run off Houston starter Scott Feldman. That home run was the game's only run until the eighth inning, when Mike Aviles (who was only in the lineup because Michael Brantley had a sore back) added a home run of his own off reliever Pat Neshak.
Nick Hagadone, who had looked impressive this spring, showed some initial jitters after he relieved Carrasco in the seventh. He walked Jason Castro, but then should have gotten out of the inning when Jed Lowrie rapped a sharp grounder towards Lonnie Chisenhall. The Tribe third baseman attempted to backhand the ball, but didn't catch it, and instead of a potential double play the Astros had runners one first and second with just one out. Terry Francona decided to go with another left-hander to face Colby Rasmus. Marc Rzepczynski entered, threw his warmup pitches, threw one pitch to Rasmus, got a double play out of it, and left the owner of .2 scoreless innings of work.
The final two innings were less dramatic. Bryan Shaw walked George Springer with two outs in the eighth, but he made a nifty glove save on a liner off the bat of LGFT Luis Valbuena to end the threat. Cody Allen cruised through the ninth, retiring the Astros on nine pitches, including two strikeouts.
The Indians have scored a grand total of two runs in two game, but if they win tomorrow they'll return to Cleveland with a 2-1 record.
Win Expectancy Chart
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