CLEVELAND – One inning of production at the plate is all it takes to back a superior start on the mound.
Roberto Perez doubled in a run and Francisco Lindor homered to give Carlos Carrasco more than enough support in a 5-1 victory over the Orioles on Wednesday evening from Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
The number two starter in the rotation struck out 10 batters in six shutout innings to record his eighth win behind a crooked number inning from the offense. Andrew Miller earned the hold out of the bullpen by working out of a bases-loaded jam with no outs.
Baltimore pitching has allowed five or more runs in each of its last 18 contests, setting the American League record.
Bats gradually find groove
Kevin Gausman’s splitter below the zone produced a number of swinging strikes, leading to six strikeouts in four scoreless innings to begin the ballgame.
“His stuff was filthy,” said manager Terry Francona to reporters. “The split was just tremendous.”
The right-hander struggled in the fifth when Roberto Perez plated Bradley Zimmer on an RBI single and Lindor belted a two-run shot, his 14th of the campaign.
“We swung at his strikes,” Lindor said, taking note of the early swinging strikes and the necessary adjustments that needed to be made. “We (laid off) the pitch he wasn’t throwing for a strike. Even if he threw it for a strike, we took it or we just put a good swing on it. We’re just trying to get a good pitch to hit. Bert did a great job. Zimmer did a great job. That’s what it’s all about.”
Instead of working at or below the knees (chart above), Gausman fell into bad habits and left too many pitches down the middle (chart below) in what shaped out to be the decisive frame.
“Because [Gausman] was striking so many of us out, his pitch count got up a little bit,” said Francona. “Not that he lost his stuff, but he started to come up (in the zone) a little bit. We laid off some of the pitches earlier in the game that we didn’t. We started stringing some hits together.”
Lindor furthered his contributions in the ninth, knocking in Zimmer on an RBI single to right field. Jason Kipnis laced an RBI single and Jose Ramirez extended his multi-hit streak to nine games (longest in franchise history since 1936) to add more breathing room.
“We’re a better team when we get contributions all over the map,” Francona said. “Zim is getting some hits and on the bases doing some things. It’s a good way to play.”
Carrasco replicates Kluber
Impeccable command and sharp movement helped Carrasco in retiring all but four of the batters he faced through six innings. None of his baserunners advanced past second base during the dominant span.
“I threw a lot of sliders, curveballs, not too many changeups, but everything was working,” said Carrasco. “I think it’s really good to follow Kluber (and) what he did in the first game. You just go back and forth, watch a little bit of the video (of) where he attacked. That’s the same way that I did today.”
Three straight base hits in the seventh forced Miller into the game with the tying run on first base. The lanky lefty induced a force out at home and punched out the following two hitters to keep Carrasco’s line free from damage – 6 IP, 7 H, 0 R/ER, 0 BB, 10 K (95 pitches, 64 strikes, 67.4%, six groundouts, one flyout).
“That’s the ballgame. That’s pretty impressive,” Francona said. “We’re (winning) 3-0. It seemed like we’re kind of hanging on there. Most of the time, you be like, ‘Okay, let’s just try to limit the damage.’ For them to get nothing, that’s not the only time he’s done it. He’s really carried the heavy lifting. That was very impressive.”
“You just try to slow the inning down as much as you can,” said Miller. “We were fortunate it worked out the way it did, but you just try to keep them as close as you can and make a big pitch when you need to.”
Miller pitched a clean eighth before Bryan Shaw retired one batter for his second save in the ninth.
“I made a good adjustment. I felt pretty good out there tonight,” Miller said. “A lot of our guys are going pretty good right now. I think that’s why we’re playing really good baseball. It’s a credit to them.”
The final game of the series is on Thursday at 7:05 p.m. from Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
RHP Mike Clevinger (2-3, 3.89) will be recalled prior to the contest to make his first start since throwing four innings of one-run ball last Saturday against Baltimore. The 26-year-old has pitched past the sixth frame in two of his seven starts this season.
LHP Wade Miley (3-4, 4.29) has allowed 12 runs (11 earned) in his past two outings, one of which ended in a loss. The glaring flaw in the southpaw’s stat line is his command, as evidenced by a career-high 12.4% walk rate (5.05 BB/9).
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.