Second Thoughts Game #132: Indians 3, White Sox 2
Tribe takes series in Windy City as Carrasco silences Sox
Carlos Carrasco's brilliant stretch of pitching since returning to the starting rotation continued on Thursday as he held Chicago to just one run over six and two thirds innings with the only damage being inflicted by White Sox rookie slugger Jose Abreu, who knocked in a run with a single in the fourth.
Tribe second basemen Jason Kipnis extended his dominant play in his hometown as the Windy City native drove in one of his team's three runs with an RBI single on Thursday. Kipnis has now hit safely in 25 of the 27 games he has played in Chicago so far in his career.
With two triples on Thursday night, center fielder Michael Bourn is now the league leader in three-baggers this season with nine on the campaign as he continues his hot-hitting since returning from his second trip to the disabled list.
Welcome Back, Carlos
The Indians have waited patiently for a payoff from the now highly-criticized Cliff Lee trade back in 2009. Jason Knapp is still currently out of baseball despite his recent comeback attempt, Lou Marson and Jason Donald have since moved on from the Indians and it looked like Carlos Carrasco's major league ceiling had been lowered to a reliever.
Well, not so fast. Out of mostly desperation at the beginning of the month due to a lack of options, the Indians re-inserted Carrasco back into the rotation despite his early season struggles as a starter. Since then, the right-hander has made five starts and racked up three victories, including the win on Thursday following six and two-thirds innings of one-run ball.
His last four starts, in particular, have been highly impressive as the right-hander has logged 24 and two-thirds innings of work and held opponents to just two runs on 11 hits while walking only three and striking out 24. Opposing hitters have had basically no chance against him during this span as they are batting a mere .131 against the Venezuelan native.
Has he finally figured out how to not overthink things while on the mound? Has combining of his curveball and slider into one pitch helped simplify his game plan? Can he continue to dominate for the long haul?
These are all questions that we don't yet know the answers to, but we never thought we'd be asking them at this time a month ago.
Setting the Tone
Indians center fielder Michael Bourn has struggled to simply get going on all cylinders this season due to lingering hamstring issues following surgery during the offseason. The 31-year-old has now made two trips to the disabled list for hamstring injuries. Consequently, things have been slow for Bourn in the stolen base department as he has only swiped eight bases in 13 attempts so far this year.
Since returning from his latest trip to the DL, however, Bourn has appeared to finally find his groove again as he is now batting .310 in 11 games since being reactivated. Thursday night's performance was definitely a promising sign as he notched three hits, including two triples giving him the league lead on the season with nine.
While Bourn has battled injuries, the Indians have lacked a true table-setter at the top of the lineup. Now with Bourn back and Jose Ramirez solidifying himself in the second slot, the Tribe once again has speed and aggressiveness at the top of the lineup to set things up for Michael Brantley, Carlos Santana and the other primary run producers.
In addition to Bourn's two triples, the Indians wreaked havoc on the base paths with three steals by Ramirez, Brantley and Jason Kipnis. As a team, Cleveland is now tied for fifth in the league in stolen bases with the Minnesota Twins with 80 on the year.
Up Next: Indians (68-64) vs. Royals (74-59) @ Kauffman Stadium. First pitch at 8:10 pm ET.
The Indians will turn to right-hander Danny Salazar in the opening matchup of a crucial three-game series against the division-leading Royals, who continue to maintain sole possession of first place in the division as they are now 15 games over the .500 mark. Salazar has pitched better of late going 3-2 with a 3.22 ERA in his last six starts. While the right-hander is 1-1 in two starts against the Royals this season, he did hold them to three runs over seven innings back on July 22nd.
Left-hander Jason Vargas has made two starts this season against the Indians and pitched well each time allowing six runs (five earned) in 13 and two-thirds combined innings. Vargas was tagged for 11 hits in six innings his last time out against Texas, but only allowed two runs to cross the plate. In his last 10 starts, the California native is an even 4-4 with a 2.97 ERA.
Jake Dungan is a communications student at Stark State College and an intern with the Akron RubberDucks. Follow him on Twitter @MajorLeagueJake.
I've been following Carrasco since he was a top Phillies prospect, and now he is pitching like both teams had hoped.
Carlos Carrasco another awesome start and with 0.73 era since rejoining the rotation. The Jimenez of 2013. Hope that Salazar and Bauer can also continue to pitch well. We are wondering what the rotation of Kluber-Carrasco-Bauer-Salazar-House can do. We are now seeing perform to try to chase down the division and wildcard.