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Carrasco, Indians shut down Orioles

By By The Sports Xchange
Published On: Aug 16 2014 10:44:41 PM CDT
Updated On: Aug 16 2014 10:44:42 PM CDT

CLEVELAND -- Carlos Carrasco, who in the past has struggled as a starter and flourished as a reliever, is back in the rotation and pitching better than ever.

Carrasco pitched seven scoreless innings, and first baseman Carlos Santana and left fielder Michael Brantley homered to lead the Cleveland Indians to a 6-0 win over former teammate Ubaldo Jimenez and the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday night at Progressive Field.

In just his second start since re-entering the rotation after spending three months in the bullpen, Carrasco (5-4) gave up three hits and no walks while striking out five. He combined with three relievers on a four-hit shutout.

"He came out of the chute attacking hitters with his fastball," Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. "That's a very dangerous lineup. They aren't going up there looking for walks. They go up there to hit homers."

In his past two starts, the right-hander has pitched 12 scoreless innings, allowed five hits and no walks and struck out 12. Carrasco started the season in the Indians' bullpen but after going 0-3 with a 6.95 ERA in four starts he was moved to the bullpen, where in 26 appearances he was 3-1 with a 2.40 ERA.

Carrasco was then moved back into the rotation, and after pitching five scoreless innings against the Yankees in New York on Aug. 10, he was even better Saturday night.

"I think his time in the bullpen really helped him settle in and now he believes in himself, and he's earned his spot in the rotation," Francona said.

Carrasco said, "I'm just going out there trying to have fun and throw strikes."

In 4 1/3 innings, Jimenez (4-9) gave up six runs, five hits and three walks.

Jimenez was a big reason why Cleveland reached the playoffs a year ago. He went 4-0 with a 1.06 ERA in six September starts as the Indians posted a 21-6 record in the month, including winning their last 10 regular-season games.

Jimenez was the winning pitcher in the playoff-clinching victory the last day of the season, then signed a four-year, $50 million contract with the Orioles as a free agent.

The Indians, who beat Jimenez 9-0 earlier in the season in Baltimore, used two three-run innings, the first and the fifth, to send the right-hander to an early shower.

However, from the end of the first inning through the fourth, Jimenez retired 11 of 12 batters, striking out five.

"Ubaldo is so hard to get a bead on because he has so much deception," Francona said. "But he can get comfortable and reel off innings like that, so you never want to let him off the hook."

Jimenez, who leads in the American League in walks, walked the first two batters he faced in the first inning -- center fielder Michael Bourn and shortstop Jose Ramirez.

Brantley flied out for the first out of the inning, but Santana sent a 2-2 pitch over the wall in center field for his team-leading 21st home run, giving the Indians a 3-0 lead.

"He didn't get off to a good start," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of Jimenez. "You walk the first two guys and the next thing you know you're down 3-0."

Jimenez said he didn't have good command in that first inning.

"I had trouble throwing strikes," he said. "I was probably close, but I was missing a lot. I threw a couple of good pitches to Santana to get back in the count, but it (the home run pitch) was right in the middle. He has a lot of power."

Jimenez needed 33 pitches to get through the first inning. He settled down and held Cleveland scoreless and hitless in the next three innings before the Indians erupted for another three-run inning in the fifth.

Right fielder Chris Dickerson doubled and scored on a single by Ramirez to make it 4-0. Ramirez then stole second and rode home on Brantley's 18th home run of the season, a two-run shot into the seats in right field to extend the lead to 6-0.

NOTES: Indians RHP Corey Kluber will receive an extra day's rest between starts. Kluber, who ranks third in the American League in ERA, will start Thursday in Minnesota instead of Wednesday. ... The Indians have a major-league-leading seven walk-off homers, hit by six players. The only player with two is OF Michael Brantley. ... Orioles LHP Zach Britton posted his first career save on May 15 and his 25th exactly 90 days later, Aug. 13. According to STATS, since saves became an official stat in 1969, Britton is only the third pitcher to log his first and 25th career saves within 90 days of each other. The other two are Eric Gagne (74 days) and Jonathan Papelbon (88 days).