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Carrasco struggles, Indians fall to Twins, 7-3

Tribe bats go cold when team plays from behind for fourth consecutive game

Carrasco struggles, Indians fall to Twins, 7-3
A pass ball leads to a gift run for the Twins on Saturday (Photo: GettyImages)
April 5, 2014
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CLEVELAND—He didn't have an option, and still may not be the best option.

Five runs on five hits through the first three innings proved more than enough for the Twins against Tribe starter Carlos Carrasco (0-1, 6.35 ERA), as Minnesota cruised to an easy 7-3 victory Saturday afternoon.

The Twins offense got things going quickly off Carrasco at the outset when second baseman Brian Dozier took the right-hander deep on the second pitch of the ballgame. Four batters later, back-to-back RBI singles by Jason Kubel and Josmil Pinto gave Minnesota a three run lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

“They were able to keep stringing at-bats bats together and add to that, which really hurt us,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “It was five pretty quick. He settled down and pitched pretty well, but the damage had been done.”

The 27-year old Carrasco did settle down after a shaky first, allowing two runs (one earned) on three hits over his last 4 2/3 innings, walking one and striking out seven.

“I tried to attack the zone more and use more off-speed pitches in the last four innings,” he said.

Out of minor league options, Carrasco beat out starters Josh Tomlin and Trevor Bauer this spring to win the final spot in the rotation.

Cleveland (3-2) has now played from behind in four consecutive games, where Indians starters have combined to surrender eight runs on 11 hits in the first inning. On the season, the rotation is 0-2 with a 4.91 ERA, allowing 14 runs on 31 hits in 25 2/3 innings.

“It’s been one time through the rotation,” Francona said. “I wish everybody that started one game had worked ahead in every count and didn’t give up any runs. We obviously want to get better as we go. That’s the idea; it gives us a better chance to win.”

It was a quiet day on the offensive side of the ball for the Indians against Twins starter Kyle Gibson (1-0, 1.80 ERA). The right-hander allowed just one run on three hits in five innings of work. The only knock on Gibson came on a wild pitch which gave Cleveland their first run of the ballgame in the third.

“We didn’t ever mount anything,” Francona said. “He made pitches when he had to and as it progressed into the middle innings, he started to throw more strikes.”

Minnesota added two more runs in the top half of the ninth off reliever Vinnie Pestano, who continues to be a growing concern in the bullpen. Once known as one of the most dominant set-up men in all of baseball, he has quickly fallen in less than a full season having allowed three runs already this year.

“I’m pitching for my livelihood right now,” Pestano said. “We have a lot of guys in the ‘pen, and I’m kind of pitching for my life right now.”

Since May 25, 2013 (including spring training) the right-hander is 0-2 with a 6.29 ERA over his last 37 appearances. He has also lost some velocity as well, where his four-seam fastball reached anywhere from 88-91 MPH Saturday.

“I feel strong and I’m healthy, whatever the board says I know it’s going to improve with the more comfortable I get,” Pestano said. “Today I felt the best I have in quite some time, and that’s probably the most discouraging thing.”

Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera added a RBI double in the bottom of the ninth, but it was too little too late to mount any sort of comeback.

A bright spot for the Indians offense so far through the first five games has been center fielder Nyjer Morgan, who collected two of the team’s five hits on the afternoon.

“He’s doing a great job of setting the table,” left fielder Michael Brantley said. “You see the hustle and drive that he puts into every at-bat. He keeps it light in the dugout, always cheering for every player and motivating every guy.

Morgan is hitting .400 (4-for-10) with two RBI on the young season, owning a .533 on-base percentage.

Up next for Indians: The Tribe will look to take the three-game series in Sunday’s rubber match with Minnesota at 1:05 p.m. All-Star Justin Masterson (0-0, 0.00 ERA) will toe the rubber against Twins right-hander Ricky Nolasco (0-1, 7.50 ERA).

Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at jberdysz27@gmail.com.

User Comments

Joe Chengery
April 6, 2014 - 7:29 PM EDT
Shy,

Carrasco didn't earn the fifth starter spot just to get removed after one outing, which was actually the third-best performance in the rotation, ahead of Kluber and McAllister. Never mind the fact that Masterson went 3.2 IP/7 H/6 R/5 ER/3 BB/4 K, 54 S/43 B, which was a worse performance, and that was Masterson's second start, not first, which may also have had something to do with Carrasco's performance. Add in the fact Tomlin didn't do well in his first start in Columbus, and that's all the more reason why changes won't be made for the first month, at least, if not longer, unless there is an injury.

The low BB/high K rate was encouraging; let's see if Carrasco can take it to the next level in his next start and build upon good peripherals with better command within the strike zone.
Mike
April 6, 2014 - 3:56 AM EDT
Based on how Pestano's comments were "used against him" in the arbitration process I don't think you'll ever hear Pestano say he isn't feeling good out there on the mound.
Walter
April 5, 2014 - 11:08 PM EDT
I believe Pestano is done. Does CC Lee replace him or is Mark Lowe will be the one to be called up. Tomlin also had bad outing in Columbus. Carrasco will continue to get some more chances to swim or sink. We might see Bauer sooner than we think.
nubballguy
April 5, 2014 - 8:37 PM EDT
Shy, "at this point" Really? One start and you're in full on, season is on the line, OMG mode? Don't like Carrasco, I get it, but the panic is a little over-reactionary isn't it?

Didn't see the game so DO appreciate the insight on arm slot etc, that's interesting and interesting to consider. However, if Tito seems to feel his stuff can play at the top or near top of a rotation, I'm willing to submit to his analysis and most certainly give the guy a chance to prove himself. For me, while I don't think it's going to be smooth, I still want to believe he works through it and turns in an decent, if up and down season with clunkers mixed in with some gems. And keep in mind just how valuable a viable Carrasco can be to the FUTURE of the Indians. A small market team like this must continuously supplant its pitching core as older, higher priced, higher injury talent matriculates out. The Tribe's success is tied to Carrasco's success IMO and they will give him every opportunity to be successful.

Finally, unless injured or catastrophically bad, designating him for assignment would be to lose him entirely. At the very least if he turns into Jeremy Guthrie, the loss would be felt. So let's hang on here for a month or two and see what Tito thinks.

As for Pestano, it truly is a shame because I think we were all pulling for him to return to form but clearly he is not the 2011-12 version of himself that we all want him to be. Pestano included. That being the case, he may very well benefit from a move to Columbus to continue to build himself up and see if he can find the ability to return to form. The fact that he says he feels good and strong is encouraging in that he may have harnessable upside.

I was wondering who they might bring up in his stead, thinking reliever but, with Chiz and Morgan performing well here in early going, perhaps he becomes the guy to send down for one of Bourn/Giambi when they are ready to return?
shy
April 5, 2014 - 8:06 PM EDT
Vinnie has not been the same since the first half of 2012. The velocitiy is down 3-4MPH and the sneaky late movement is not so sneaky. He is a liability now in high leverage situations which Tito is undoubtedly aware of, and it's why his appearances have been limited to low leverage situations;obviously you can't hold a roster spot very long for this kind of pitching. Carrasco? Y'all know what I think of him can be summed up in a 3 letter acronym- BDH. Interesting study in arm slots today. Gibson comes straight down from 8' and then sinks the ball on top of it. Carrasco is coming from less than 6' and most of his pitches are flat as saucers, it's just not going to work at this level. And I don't buy the importance of his closing the barn door after the horses were out today, the Indians were working out of a deep hole after the fourth inning and everybody knew it. The sooner they quit worrying about the fact that he's out of options and get somebody in there that give them consistently decent if unspectacular starts the better off they'll be. You gotta have Tomlin on speed dial at this point. Can anyone remind me about how the DFA/release deal would work for Carrasco. Does he have to clear waivers? If so, who in our league might grab him- wouldn't he have to be rostered?
Tony
April 5, 2014 - 7:11 PM EDT
Carrasco is going to get some time to prove himself. Pestano on the other hand has allowed runs in both outings this season, allowed a lot of baserunners, and did not look good this spring. Plus, the last pen option is typically in flux more than a starter.
Phil
April 5, 2014 - 6:58 PM EDT
Then who is the best option if it isn't Carrasco? It sure isn't Tomlin after his outing in AAA today if we're judging our opinions on one outing.....
Tony
April 5, 2014 - 6:45 PM EDT
If you want an early target who might be in trouble on the roster from the get-go.....it is Pestano. He might be the first pen guy to be optioned out.....and soon.

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