Sunday afternoon's contest between the Indians and Jays at Progressive Field was probably Carlos Carrasco's final audition to prove he belongs in the Tribe's rotation. In the end, Carrasco wasn't terrible but he wasn't very good either, and thankfully it was the Indians offense that came to his rescue. Michael Brantley and David Murphy came through in pivotal moments to guide the Indians to a much-needed 6-4 victory over the Blue Jays, winning the final game of this three-game series.
Carrasco, making his third start of the season, lasted 5.2 innings and gave up 6 hits, 4 earned runs, 3 walks and recorded 5 strikeouts.Those aren't impressive numbers by any means but they don't quite tell the whole story either. Carlos breezed through the first three innings without allowing the Jays anything; he was damn near perfect. Unfortunately he completely lost his momentum when Jose Reyes doubled to begin the fourth inning and it all unraveled from there. Carrasco was actually very unlucky though. On the next play, Melky Cabrera hit a groundball to short that Asdrubal Cabrera got some leather on but not enough to make the out. Now if the Indians had a shortstop with some range, someone who could play league-average defense, I feel the rest of the inning could have gone very differently for Carrasco. Instead Carrasco was stung for 3 runs and never regained that confidence he had in the first three innings. He battled his way into the sixth inning but control issues were starting to take their toll and Francona removed him for Josh Outman (who went on to record the win). If it was up to me I'd let Carrasco have one more start in the rotation, because for the majority of the game I thought he looked pretty decent.
Instead of rolling over and letting their starting pitcher take the loss, the Indians offense decided to break from recent tradition and got themselves back into contention.
Michael Brantley had a terrific day at the plate, collecting 2 hits and a walk. His first hit was a solo home run to right field that got things going in the second inning and put the Indians ahead 1-0. He collected another RBI in the bottom of the fourth inning, when his double scored Jason Kipnis to keep the Indians in the game. Brantley now leads the team in home runs and RBI and is fast becoming my favorite position player on the team.
It was David Murphy however, who proved to be the Indians' hero in the end. He came to bat in the bottom of the sixth inning with two outs and the bases loaded, with the Jays leading 4-2. Toronto reliever Aaron Loup was in the midst of a horrific inning, as he walked three Indians batters in a row to set the stage for Murphy. Our 6'3 right-fielder, who has gotten off to such a terrific start to his career in Cleveland, lined Loup's 0-1 pitch into left field for a bases-clearing double to give the Tribe a 5-4 lead.
The hometown team never looked back. They added an insurance run in the seventh inning when Nick Swisher hit a sac-fly to score Lonnie Chisenhall to push the lead to 6-4. Cody Allen cruised through the eighth inning, and John Axford pitched the ninth to record his 6th save of the year, but not before making us sweat. Axford walked a tightrope of disaster, loading the bases for the Jays before Edwin Encarnacion grounded into the Indians' defensive shift for the final out. If Jason Kipnis hadn't been positioned just behind the second base bag, Encarnacion's hit would have surely gone into center field to tie the game. Instead it was a routine groundout and the Tribe celebrated their first win since Wednesday 16th in Detroit.
Cleveland now sit at 8-10 and welcome the Kansas City Royals into town to begin a four-game series tomorrow. Zach McAllister will take the mound and he faces off against KC's Jeremy Guthrie. First pitch is at 7:05 ET.
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