Carrasco and the long ball lead Indians past Reds, 8-3
More roster moves are made before Tribe bats roll over Cincy in final spring matchup
Player of the Game: Carlos Carrasco (6 innings 9 hits 3 ER 0 BB / 5 S0)
Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver once said, "The key to winning baseball games is pitching, fundamentals and three-run homers."
The Indians had a little bit of everything working for them Monday in the rubber-match against the Cincinnati Reds. Solid starting pitching, sound defense and three home runs lead the Tribe past Cincy, 8-3.
Third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall got things started for Cleveland with a solo homer off Reds starter Alfredo Simon in the second inning. One frame later, Ryan Raburn launched his third long ball of the spring, a two-run shot to give the Indians a 3-0 lead.
The Reds would get on the board in the fourth on a RBI single by former Indians outfielder Ryan Ludwick, but All-Star Jason Kipnis quickly sealed the victory with a three-run homer in the sixth. It was the first home run for the second baseman in spring training action.
CARRASCO LOCKED IN AS STARTER?
If he hasn't already, Tribe right-hander Carlos Carrasco showed Monday why he should be in the rotation come Opening Day.
For the second straight game, the Indians received a quality outing from their starter, as Carrasco allowed just three runs on nine hits in six innings of work. Walking none and striking out five, the 27-year old has fanned 14 in 13 2/3 innings of Cactus League play.
With competition for the final spot in the rotation in its final stages, I think Carrasco won himself the job with his solid pitching performanceMonday. Don't surprised if Carrasco's name ends up being the one etched in as the starter for the Tribe Home Opener on April 4.
ROSTER DECISIONS TAKE SHAPE
Prior to the ballgame, the Indians announced that center fielder Michael Bourn will begin the 2014 regular season on the 15-day DL. Bourn strained his left hamstring March 16 against the San Francisco Giants and has been sidelined for the last seven games.
With Bourn out, it was announced that non-roster invitee Nyjer Morgan has made the Opening Day 25-man roster. The former Milwaukee Brewers outfielder has hit .222 (8-for-36) with four doubles and six RBI this spring.
The roster currently stands at 36 players in major league spring training.
For Bourn, I like the decision to start him on the disabled list. Why rush him? The season is way too long and the team and fans would hate to see Bourn's injury linger on into the summer. If all goes to plan, the two-time gold glove winner could be back on the field as early as April 5.
The only realistic reason Morgan makes the club is due to Bourn's injury. When he is on though, the speedy Morgan is a definite underrated player, using his legs to his advantage. I don't know why, but something tells me Morgan may rack up more stolen bases than Bourn during the regular season.
As for Bauer, despite losing the rotation race, I think he definitely starts at least 10 games in the big leagues in 2014.
--Michael Brantely continues to tear at the plate, collecting two more hits. Dr. Smooth is now hitting an even .500 (21-for-42) on the spring.
--Spring training game or not, Monday's game will be one Indians broadcaster Tom Hamilton will remember for the rest of his life. Nick Hamilton, the son of Tom debuted in his first Cactus League game with the big league club against the Reds. Nick went 0-for-4 at the plate, but that didn't stop his father from holding back tears in the stands in what was a special moment to witness. Nick was drafted by Cleveland out of Kent State University as a 35th round pick in the 2012 MLB Draft.
--One day after being released by the Tribe, veteran starter Aaron Harang has signed a minor league deal with the Atlanta Braves.
Cleveland improves to 17-7-2 with the win, as they remain at the top of the Cactus League standings with just five exhibition games left.
Up next for Indians: The Wahoo's play host to the Texas Rangers at Goodyear Ballpark Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. ET. Looking to bulid on an already stellar spring, right-hander Josh Tomlin will get the start against Rangers southpaw Robbie Ross. The Tribe was victorious in their previous Cactus League meeting with Texas back on March 3.
Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If it's managed well, and that seems to be a strong skillset of Francona's, everyone can still get 300-400 ABs (Chisenhall closer to 400, Raburn closer to 300). It certainly provides the Indians with a lot of depth and intriguing lineup possibilities.
Though what that exactly means we'll see. He's the backup catcher so can't play everyday at 3B.
Guess this means Chiz is your DH? Or is Raburn playing everyday?
Player of the Game for me though was Chisenhall. 2 for 4 with a HR and made a couple very nice plays in the field. I know we've seen good springs from him before but really hoping he gets a bulk of the playing time at 3B. If we want to field our best team then Chiz should be at 3B and Santana DH.