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Carlos Carrasco’s return dominant and José Ramírez homers twice in 9-2 victory

Feels nice to shake off whatever happened last night with a big win, no?

MLB: Kansas City Royals at Cleveland Indians Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Carlos Carrasco made his first start in more than a year today, but as sharp as he looked you’d never know. He struck out ten batters across six innings while allowing only two runs. A start like that puts any team in position to win, especially one like Cleveland whose offense sputtered through the first two games.

They did not sputter today.

Led by two home runs off the bat of José Ramírez, the Tribe scored nine times. Domingo Santana reached in all four of his plate appearances and Cesar Hernandez once again notched two hits. The ample lead allowed the Indians to work members of the bullpen who had yet to see action this season; they held the Royals scoreless in the seventh, eighth, and ninth.

A comprehensive analysis of Carrasco’s stuff today

Just straight-up nasty.

A more comprehensive analysis of Carrasco’s stuff today

Carrasco’s breaking balls missed bats all game long today. Baseball Savant has a little trouble at times differentiating so I’m lumping them together, but they accounted for eight of his called strikes and eleven of his swinging strikes. He worked the strike zone early to give those offerings room to breath and it paid off. What stood out to me is how sharp the break came on these pitches. On more than a couple of occasions he froze Royals hitters as the ball zipped back over the plate; when they weren’t doing that, they were darting just out of hitters’ reach.

I’m also encouraged by the consistent velocity on his fastball all game long. He sat comfortably at 94 MPH and never labored. A Carrasco throwing easy and hard is dangerous, and the only times that the Royals managed to turn it around on him is when an offspeed pitch caught too much of the zone, or when a hitter sitting fastball managed to barrel it up. Even then, the pitches weren’t mashed. Mondesi’s double had only a .140 xBA, though it tailed away from Franmil Reyes, who was playing a short left. The only barreled ball he allowed all game was to Maikel Franco.

The bullpen preserved Carrasco’s performance nicely. Oliver Perez, Dominic Leone, and Cam Hill all pitched a full inning of relief. Only Leone allowed baserunners, but he worked out of it without incident. Hill looked especially impressive to me; while he did allow some hard contact he changed eye-level well and earned nasty swinging strikes on his slider.

A comprehensive analysis of Ramírez’s hitting today

A more comprehensive analysis of Ramírez’s hitting today

Locked. In.

Ramírez hit a three-run home run as a lefty to blow things open in the bottom of the fourth inning. He piled on with a towering shot off of the foul pole in left from the right side of the plate in the sixth. It is early, but it seems the Endless Slump of Seasons Past will not return to haunt him this year. Five hits, four runs, and 5 RBI through three games is a fine way to start.

In addition to this, he helped create a run in the third with a single to right that Franchy Cordero misplayed, allowing Cesar Hernandez to score from first. Ramírez later came home on a Francisco Lindor double.

And yes, you heard that right: Francisco Lindor got a hit with runners in scoring position. He’s about the only Indians that Royals pitchers didn’t try to run away from today:

To be fair to Lindor, all but one of the dots around the edges were called strikes and could have gone either way. I’m not worried about him getting a grip this season; if pitchers continue to challenge him in the zone like this it’s going to get ugly for them soon.

Cesar Hernandez continued his hot start with a couple of singles and runs scored. Carlos Santana walked and scored twice, with one of the runs coming thanks to a great read on Bradley Zimmer a fly ball to left. He dove and slipped in just under the tag. Domingo Santana added three hits and a walk. Sandy Leon, Yu Chang, and Franmil Reyes all added hits, too.

Tribalist Titillation

  • As DelGua pointed out in the game thread, Domingo Santana has now reached base in five straight plate appearances after opening his Indians career with two “excuse me?” at-bats.
  • There was some concern about the effectiveness of Oliver Perez this year given the new three-batter rule. Today, he dispatched right-handed hitters with ease. We’ll see how this trend progresses, but it would be a massive help to the Indians bullpen to consistently lean on him for full innings.
  • Bradley Zimmer misplayed a ball in center today that he would normally catch without any trouble. At first, I wondered if he got a bad jump on the ball. I think what actually happened is that Tito pulled him aside before the game and said, “If you run into the wall I will tongue your toepads one at a time.” I, too, would be a bit hesitant going back on a ball after that. I’m just glad he survived an afternoon in center field without any misadventures.

Next up for the Indians: a showdown tomorrow night against the White Sox. Aaron Civale is schedule to start against the homer-happy south siders. If he keeps the ball in the yard look for him throw more than 100 pitches, as he is fully stretched out.