CLEVELAND (AP) — Carlos Carrasco started poorly, straightened himself out and wound up having a fairly decent season debut for the Indians.
One bad inning cost him dearly.
Carrasco gave up a home run on his second pitch to Brian Dozier leading off the game and the Minnesota Twins rolled to a 7-3 win over Cleveland on Saturday, giving manager Ron Gardenhire his 1,000th career victory.
Carrasco gave up three runs in the first and two in the third, but the right-hander struck out seven and stayed around for 5 2-3 innings.
“It was five (runs) pretty quick,” Indians manager Terry Francona said, “then he settled down and kind of pitched pretty well. But the damage had been done.”
The hard-throwing but sometimes wild Carrasco wasn’t the only issue for the Indians.
They couldn’t figure out Minnesota starter Kyle Gibson and managed just five hits – two of them in the ninth when they were already down 7-1.
More troubling, however, was that it was a familiar pattern for Carrasco, who has had other outings in which he’s struggled early and gotten into trouble.
“I think those are things we’re trying to fight through with him, try to break through with him,” Francona said. “Because it’s there and we know it’s there. There’s a lot to like, but we’ve gotta get them out.”
Against the first 14 batters he faced, Carrasco allowed six hits and gave up Dozier’s homer. In the final 14 batters, Carrasco gave up just one hit and struck out five.
He finished allowing four earned runs and seven hits, not nearly the type of performance or impression he wanted to make in his first outing.
At times dominant, at times maddening. Carrasco remains a major work in progress.
“I just started a little bit slow in my first inning,” he said. “I threw a lot of strikes, but I missed my spots too.”
Two pitches in, Dozier connected on Carrasco’s fastball, clanging it off the railing just about the 19-foot-high wall in left field. Jason Kubel and Josmil Pinto delivered two-out RBI singles in the inning off Carrasco, who beat out Josh Tomlin, Trevor Bauer and others for the No. 5 starter’s job in spring training.
Minnesota tacked on two runs in the third to make it 5-0. Chris Colabello was hit by Carrasco and scored from first on Trevor Plouffe’s double into the gap in right-center. Plouffe moved up on a passed ball and scored when Gomes, who had four passed balls in 94 games last season, couldn’t backhand a second low pitch from Carrasco.
The Indians closed within 5-1 in the third when Lonnie Chisenhall doubled, moved up on a double play and scored on Gibson’s wild pitch.
But Cleveland couldn’t string together hits against Gibson or three Twins relievers, who held them to two hits over the final four innings.
“He was pitching on both sides of the plate,” left fielder Michael Brantley said of Gibson. “Getting ahead early and mixing his offspeed. He did a great job of keeping us off-balance and it was a tough day out there.”
Cleveland got within 7-3 on Asdrubal Cabrera’s RBI double and a sacrifice fly by Gomes but had their seven-game winning streak against Minnesota snapped.
NOTES: Indians OF Nyjer Morgan reached base all four times on two walks and two hits. … Gardenhire is the 10th manager to win 1,000 games with the same club. He also joined Francona as one of five active managers to hit the milestone. “Gardy’s been doing this for a long time,” Francona said. “He’s been good at what he does for a long time. I think that number indicates he’s getting old.” Reminded he’s also got 1,000 wins, Francona quipped: “I’m old. That’s why I didn’t say too many nice things about it.” … Indians DH Jason Giambi (rib fracture) will likely play in some minor league games before he’s activated. Giambi has been taking indoor batting practice and is eligible to come off the DL on April 14. … Francona was “touched” by the loud ovation he received before the home opener. “I was a little surprised,” he said. “It’s nice to be cared for or wanted in your job.” … Francona said he wasn’t the only one to give former Indians manager Mike Hargrove some grief for bouncing the ceremonial first pitch on Friday. “Everybody did,” he said. “I had to get in line.”