Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco had not pitched in a regular-season game since September 17, 2016 because of a broken bone in his right hand suffered in the first inning of a start against the Detroit Tigers, but nearly six months after the injury, he was back on the mound.
Carrasco allowed just four hits and two earned runs over 5.2 innings of work against the Texas Rangers, but his location and secondary pitches kept the high-powered offense at bay long enough for the bullpen to come in and finish off a 4-3 win at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas Tuesday night.
“I think it was everything,” Carrasco said after picking up the win. “I think the whole game, I missed with just one pitch. It was the homer. Right there, I just tried to throw it a little bit inside. It came back to the middle up.”
Carlos Carrasco makes first start of year for Cleveland Indians
Despite pitching into the sixth inning, Carrasco was remarkably efficient, throwing just 78 pitches, 53 of which went for strikes, and that ability to locate the strike zone while avoiding the barrel of the opponents’ bats resulted in seven strikeouts and only one walk.
“That was great,” Carrasco said. “I remember when I was in five innings. Mickey (Callaway) told me, ‘Are you okay?’ I said, ‘Yes, I am ready, so let me get one more.’ I went in, got two outs and he brought in the bullpen.
“Every inning, I feel stronger and more comfort in my pitches, and that’s what we did all night.”
In the sixth inning, Carrasco made short work of outfielder Nomar Mazara, who flew out to left field on the first pitch of the at-bat. Then, Carrasco set down on strikes his former teammate, Mike Napoli, but was relieved in favor of Boone Logan.
The left-handed specialist got Rougned Odor to pop out to second base to end the inning.
“I thought he was good,” Indians manager Terry Francona said of Carrasco. “After he gave up that home run that might still be going, he settled down and he threw strikes. He threw some real good off-speed, made some big pitches.
“He got Odor the one inning. He was nearing kind of what we were thinking, and with Odor coming up, it just seemed like…I actually thought he was throwing the ball really well, just the way Odor’s swinging it, it seemed like a good idea to get Boone.
“He just had one inning that was a little bit long. Mick was okay with a little bit more than that, but again, there’s a little bit of a respect factor for the way Odor’s swinging the bat right now, and when you’re nearing that point anyway, it just seemed like the right thing to do.”
After making his way back from the broken bone in his throwing hand and starting the season with a strong performance against the Rangers, Carrasco is full speed ahead as the Indians look to play well enough throughout the season to earn another trip to the playoffs.
“It’s something in the past,” Carrasco said. “I got it last year, so this year is a new year. I feel pretty good about myself with my body, my arm, so everything’s fine.”