CLEVELAND – Damp conditions and an impending downpour did not play in favor of the Cleveland Indians.
Just like the rain, the Tribe offense never made their presence known at Progressive Field as part of a 3-1 defeat to the Seattle Mariners on Friday night.
Carlos Carrasco registered his fifth consecutive quality start, but the bats could not break out a funk against the dominant trio comprised of Ariel Miranda, James Pazos and Edwin Diaz.
Two-homer fourth opens scoring
After three innings of scoreless pitching, the Mariners drew first blood on Robinson Cano’s two-run blast to right-center field.
“I think the best way to attack him is the same way I did in the first inning,” said Carrasco in light of retiring Cano two out of the three times he faced him. “I think I did a great job with the way I pitched him. It was just one pitch. I missed my spot.”
In the bottom half, Jose Ramirez lined a ball off the yellow tape just in front of the left field bleachers for his sixth home run of the season.
“I think he’s probably a little stronger, a little thicker than when he first came up,” manager Terry Francona said. “The quality of his at-bats are so good. I think he’s a lot stronger then people give him credit for. When he gets his legs underneath it like that, he can hit home runs (from) both sides of the plate.”
Miranda found his command after tossing 50 pitches between the first two innings to finish with a final line of 5.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R/ER, 2 BB, 7 K (96 pitches, 55 strikes, 57.3%).
“Early on, [Miranda] was having a real tough time finding his breaking ball but we didn’t make him pay for it,” said Francona. “He beat us with his fastball up a little bit. Whether he got swing-and-miss or just got it past our barrel, we didn’t do much.”
The Indians batted .125 (4-for-32), left six men on base and went 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position.
Carrasco cruises to eight solid frames
The string of quality starts continued for Carrasco as he fired eight innings of three-run ball, the second straight time he has worked that deep into a ballgame.
“I feel great,” Carrasco said. “We’re trying to go deep in the game and try put some zeroes on the board.”
Aside from the aforementioned pair of home runs, Seattle batted (.154) 4-for-26 vs. Carrasco and could only advance a runner past second base on one other occasion.
“I didn’t think he had his great fastball tonight,” said Francona. “When you go eight and give up three, you got to figure we have a pretty good chance to win.”
Manager Scott Servais employed a pair of his high-leverage arms in the late innings to cool the Tribe offense with a bevy of strikeouts.
James Pazos pitched 2.1 shutout innings with four consecutive punchouts to the first quartet of batters he faced. The hard-throwing left-hander had an average sinker velocity of 96.8-mph mixed in with a slider averaging a speed of 81.1-mph.
Edwin Diaz followed with 1.2 scoreless frames of his own to send a silent crowd of 20,842 fans to the turnstiles. Similar to Pazos, Diaz lit up the radar gun with an average fastball velocity of 97.1-mph and maximum velocity of 99.9-mph.
Central Division update
Manager Rick Renteria and the White Sox (12-9) took sole possession of first place with a 7-3 win over Detroit (11-11).
The weekend series continues on Saturday at 4:10 p.m. as the Tribe pursues a victory to even the matchup.
RHP Danny Salazar (1-2, 4.37) will make the 90th start of his career after recording nine strikeouts in five innings of four-run ball last Sunday in Chicago. The 27-year-old needs four punchouts to tie Corey Kluber for the second-most strikeouts in a Cleveland pitcher’s first 90 appearances.
RHP Yovani Gallardo (1-2, 4.84) is slated for just his second career outing against Indians despite a nine-year tenure in the big leagues. The Mexico native logged action in the World Baseball Classic and has gone at least five innings in each of his four games to start the season.
John Alfes has covered the Indians for IBI since August of 2016. Follow him on Twitter @JohnAlfes for breaking news and in-depth coverage all season long.