Indians improve to 3-3
As with last time, the below recap was written as the game was in progress, so expect many bad predictions and perhaps some overreactions.
Smyly started the game sharp, hitting his spots with fastballs up in the zone and throwing his curve in tempting locations. He got Rajai Davis to chase one down out of the strike zone, then froze Jason Kipnis with a curve at the top of the zone. Likewise, Carrasco hit the ground running, with his first pitch a 96 mph strike. His slider looks excellent, with very sharp movement, and unlike his first start, he has good control of his fastball.
Smyly dispatched Mike Napoli and Carlos Santana on eight pitches, no mean feat. Then he got away with a hung curveball to Yan Gomes (who fouled it off), then right fielder somehow got Gomes' liner after initially losing it in the lights. Carrasco matched Smyly with a perfect inning of his own, making it 12 up, 12 down for the game. It's looking this one is following the script from last night's contest...though let's hope the ending is better.
Smyly if anything is getting better, getting Marlon Byrd to chase high fastballs, and getting Collin Cowgill on a curve in the dirt. This should have been a favorable week-plus for Byrd, who has gotten to face five left-handed starters, but he hasn't done much of anything. Carrasco matched him again, striking out the side (all on breaking pitches). 18 up, 18 down.
Just like last night, the Indians got to a Rays pitcher the second time through the order. Rajai Davis grounded a spinning curve past the shortstop and ended up at second because Brad Miller got a piece of the ball as it went past him. Jason Kipnis blooped a ball into center field, then Francisco Lindor drove Davis home with a grounder to third base (he beat out the potential double play easily). Then Mike Napoli pounded a ball to the left-center field wall, giving the Indians runners at second and third. Carlos Santana then hit a pop fly to shallow right field that would have been harmless had the Rays been playing him straight up. But because the Rays were swung way around to left (Santana was batting right-handed) the second baseman was going towards the outfield when he caught. That allowed Lindor to score, and when the throw to the plate bounded into the seats Napoli scored as well.
Carlos Carrasco gave up his first hit (a perfectly-placed grounder between Kipnis and Lindor) but otherwise had no issues facing the top of the Rays order for the second time.
Indians 3, Rays 0
This was Carrasco's weakest inning; he fell behind regularly (including walking one), but his defense made some nice plays, including Yan Gomes throwing to second to get the lead runner on a bunt. Rajai Davis ran down a Kevin Kiermeyer fly ball in the left-center gap to end the inning.
Indians 3, Rays 0
Francisco Lindor had an eventful inning. He reached on a throwing error (going to second after the ball went into the stands), stole third, and had to dive under a Carlos Santana foul ball. Nothing came of it, though, as Smyly ended the inning when he struck out Santana for his tenth strikeout.
Meanwhile, Carrasco was back on his game, striking out Logan Forsythe on a nasty slider on the outside corner of the plate. He then got Logan Morrison to chase one in the first for his seven strikeouts, but more importantly, his pitch count has been kept low (72). There's a chance that Carlos got only finishes the game, but tosses a Maddux.
Indians 3, Rays 0
Carrasco is getting better as the game has gone on. When Corey Dickerson struck out, Yan Gomes couldn't find the ball initially, then uncorked a pea to Mike Napoli, who made a difficult catch (the ball and the runner arrived at about the same time) to complete the strikeout.
Terry Francona seems to have learned from last night's game, as he sent Tyler Naquin into the game, with Rajai Davis heading to left field. Marlon Byrd is out of the game.
Indians 3, Rays 0
Jason Kipnis pushes the Tribe lead to four with a no-doubt homer to right. Maybe that will allow Carrasco to finish the game with a quick eighth inning...
Carrasco could have gotten through this inning on just four pitches if the Indians turn a potential double a bit faster, but Kevin Kiermeyer beats Kipnis' throw, and would later score on Curt Casali's double. The Rays make a bid to score a second run when Logan Forsythe (last night's hero) singles through the left side, but Rajai Davis's throw was in time, if a bit off-line, and Yan Gomes dove across the plate to tag Casali on his arm just before he touches the plate. With the way the Rays hit Carrasco, I think it's a given that Cody Allen will pitch the ninth now.
In his last two starts in Tampa, Carrasco has allowed just two runs and five hits in 16.2 innings.
Indians 4, Rays 1
Mike Napoli made a tremendous play on a ball down the first base line for the first out of the inning. That turned out to be a big play, as Cody Allen would give up a base hit later in the inning but thanks to Napoli's play, the tying run didn't come to the plate. Desmond Jennings worked the count full with two outs, but he finally swung under an Allen fastball to end the game.
Final score: Indians 4, Rays 1
Pitching and defense kept the Rays at bay throughout the game. Carrasco went eight innings, striking out eight and only allowing one run, while several key plays kept the margin comfortable.
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