Indians improve to 36-41
Carlos Carrasco had gotten ahead of Joey Butler 0-2. There were runners on first and third, but they really didn't matter because there were two outs in the bottom of the ninth and the Indians were up 8-0. Just one more pitch and the game would be over. The Indians were on the cusp of winning three straight against the Rays, their third straight win by at least four runs.
Oh, did I forget to mention that Carrasco hadn't given up a hit to that point?
It had been 34 years since an Indians pitcher had thrown a no-hitter. Although there had been close calls in the decades since Len Barker twirled his perfect game in 1981, no Tribe pitcher had retired 26 batters without a hit since that night in 1981. Carrasco had faced the minimum number of batters through eight innings, with his only blemish (a Joey Butler walk) quickly erased via a double play. But in the ninth he walked the leadoff batter (Asdrubal Cabrera), then hit pinch-hitter Brandon Guyer. Austin Adams was warming in the bullpen, but it wasn't because the game was in doubt; he was warming because Carrasco was approaching 120 pitches and would enter if the Rays got a hit. The next batter (LGFT Grady Sizemore) hit a sharp grounder to the right of shortstop Mike Aviles, who was shading up the middle. Aviles tracked the ball down, then made a strong throw to nab the runner at second base. Carrasco then struck out Kevin Kiermaier to set up the at-bat against Butler.
Joey Butler fouled off the first pitch of the at-bat, then swung and missed at the second. Carrasco was one pitch away from history. Then Butler lined a pitch into right field, just over the glove of a leaping Jason Kipnis, and the no-hitter was over. You can't get any closer to a no-hitter without completing it. That would be Carrasco's last batter; he left the game to a standing ovation by the Tampa Bay crowd. Austin Adams would retire Jake Elmore to end the game, though that at-bat was a rather small afterthought after the events earlier that inning.
Carrasco's final line score:
8.2 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 13 SO, 2 BB
It was a brilliant outing, a case where a dominant pitcher went up against a reeling lineup. Towards the middle of the game, you wondered if Carrasco would be able to finish his masterpiece because of all the strikeouts. But a couple of quick innings placed him in a position to make history.
We can't forget about the offense. Tampa Bay came into the series with one of the best pitching staffs in the baseball, and through three games the Tribe has scored 21 runs. Today's offensive standout was Brandon Moss, who uncorked a three-run bomb in the eighth and drove home two with a double in the second. Jason Kipnis continued his phenomenal season with two more hits, including a double.
But tonight belonged to Carlos Carrasco. Although he didn't get that final out, his performance was well worth remembering.
Win Expectancy Chart
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