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Second Thoughts Game #118: Indians 4, Yankees 1

Carrasco shines on the mound as Tribe takes series in Bronx

Second Thoughts Game #118: Indians 4, Yankees 1
Carlos Carrasco shuts out the Yankees over five innings in his first start since April. (Photo: Getty Images)
August 11, 2014
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The pendulum appears to be swinging the other way once again as they manage to finish their road trip strong with a series win in New York courtesy of Corey Kluber and, surprisingly, Carlos Carrasco, who both kept the Yankees bats in check over the final two games of the series.

Jason Kipnis continued his newfound hot streak with a three-hit day on Sunday while Yan Gomes and Michael Brantley continued to do the heavy lifting as far as driving in runs. Newly-acquired Zach Walters also made his Indians debut taking the place of the injured David Murphy and while he didn't record a hit, he did draw a walk.

On a side note, Derek Jeter went 0-for-4 with a strikeout in his final career at-bats against the Indians. Considering the fact his highest single-opponent batting average is against Cleveland, Tribe hurlers are probably not that disappointed to see that run come to an end.

Now the Indians are ready to return home for a day off before welcoming the Diamondbacks into town for a brief two-game set.

A Pleasant Surprise From Carrasco

If you told me Carlos Carrasco would return to the mound as a starter this season after being exiled to the bullpen, I wouldn't have believed you. If you told me he would shut out the Yankees in his first start back in the rotation, I would've thought you were crazy.

The fact of the matter is, though, the Indians are in desperate need of help in the rotation with Justin Masterson gone and Josh Tomlin and Zach McAllister not getting the job done. McAllister is back in Columbus to work out his issues and Tomlin is now in the bullpen after basically trading roles with Carrasco.

Carrasco only threw 77 pitches over five shutout innings, but after being in the bullpen for the majority of the campaign, a period of transition where he can stretch out back into the role of a starter shouldn't be unexpected. Still, what he did in those five innings was impressive enough to continue the experiment as he fanned four batters and only allowed two base runners via hits.

If Carrasco can continue to put the mental shortcomings that, by his own admission, have affected his pitching in the past as well as maintaining his mechanics and throwing strikes, he may very well become the solid starter the Indians had hoped they were getting in the Cliff Lee trade. Better late than never, I guess.

Is this the real Jason Kipnis?

Much like the Indians' season, their former All-Star second baseman has also struggled to get going on a sustained run of success. After being named AL Player of the Week just a few weeks ago, Jason Kipnis found himself mired in another slump. Now over his last 10 games, Kipnis is batting .317 with a home run, four doubles and two RBI.

On Sunday, Kipnis set the table for the Tribe with three hits out of the leadoff spot as he ended up scoing three of his team's four runs against the Bronx Bombers.

Due to Michael Bourn's injury, Kipnis has been delegated the leadoff responsibilities and so far, he is batting .239 with a .313 OBP in 32 games out of the first slot in the lineup. However, when he leads off an inning, he is batting .319 with a .380 OBP. For those curious, Kipnis has had the most success when batting fifth in the lineup this season with a 13-for-33 mark (.394).

It's been a bit of an unconventional season for Kipnis as up to this point in his career, he has been able to put together at least one extended stretch during the season where he hits the ball well. Could the oblique strain that sidelined him earlier this year be having lingering effects? Is he feeling the pressure of having to step his game up due to the struggles of some of the team's key contributors? It's tough to say, but he's hitting well now and let's hope it continues.

Up Next: D-Backs (51-67) vs. Indians (59-59) @ Progressive Field. First pitch at 7:05 pm ET (Tuesday).

The Indians return home to take in an off-day on Monday before returning to work at Progressive Field against Arizona. The Indians split the first two games of the season series down in the desert earlier this season. Left-hander T.J. House will take the mound for the Tribe. Despite taking the loss in his last outing against the Reds, House was actually solid in his last start allowing only three earned runs in six innings of work.

Right-hander Josh Collmenter will pitch as a starter against the Tribe after facing them out of the bullpen in Arizona earlier this season. He did earn the win despite only pitching one inning back in June. Like House, Collmenter was handed the loss in his last start against the Royals even though he only allowed three earned runs in six innings.

Jake Dungan is a communications student at Stark State College and an intern with the Akron RubberDucks. Follow him on Twitter @MajorLeagueJake.

User Comments

August 11, 2014 - 6:31 PM EDT
"Kluber, Bauer, Salazar, Carrasco and ?"

Until we sign a pitching FA - the answer is MacAllister. If he is not the answer this year - there is no answer.

Ron Vollmar
August 11, 2014 - 1:37 PM EDT
Carrasco has starter stuff. His problem has been being able to maintain his positive approach during pressure.

I believe one of the best coaching jobs Francona has done was moving Carrasco into the bullpen, giving him various jobs in the bull pen. When he did pretty well in a long relief appearance, it might have been the tipping point.

The ineffective starters might have also forced Francona to the move.

It is funny, I have had him as a late draft pick or early free agent pick-up as a spot starter. Later picked him up as a reliever and finally picked him up as a Sunday starter.

He would be a very nice surprise for the end of this season. If only they could find an effective fifth starter.

Kluber, Bauer, Salazar, Carrasco and ?
August 11, 2014 - 1:02 PM EDT
The question about Carrasco has never been his stuff, it's about his ability to salvage an inning (and subsequent inning) when he gives up a couple of runs.

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