Indians starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco sidestepped danger throughout his impressive 5 1/3-inning outing Tuesday.
Veteran relievers Scott Atchison and Bryan Shaw followed Carrasco’s lead of walking the tightrope of danger only to escape damage at each turn.
Unfortunately for the Tribe, closer Cody Allen couldn’t pull off the same Houdini act when he entered the game charged with further protecting a one-run lead. Instead, J.D. Martinez’s three-run home run with one out in the ninth resulted in a 4-2 Tigers victory, as the visitors have claimed the first two games of the important four-game series.
Before Allen’s collapse, Carrasco put on a display that showed just how far he’s come since the first month of the season. Four months ago, all the foot traffic that littered the bases during Carrasco’s start Tuesday would have ended in disaster.
But a day after the Tribe absorbed an 11-run defeat at the bats of the division rival Tigers, the starter-turned-reliever-turned-starter three times sidestepped jams (paved by 10 hits) in which he stranded a runner at third base with less than two outs. Along the way, the right-hander limited the Tigers to a second-inning RBI walk while racking up a career-high 10 batters.
For more proof of just how good he felt about himself, consider that the quiet Carrasco didn’t even let a menacing glare from Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera in the fifth inning put a damper on his spirits after he struck out Alex Avila to end a two-on, two-out threat to preserve a one-run advantage.
After the big out, Carrasco pumped his first and yelled something to himself in celebration, earning a stare from Cabrera as the two crossed paths – with Carrasco headed into the third base home dugout and Cabrera making the long walk from third base to the first base visitor’s dugout.
For standing up to Cabrera and the rest of the mighty Tigers, the quaint crowd of 9,990 showered Carrasco with a standing ovationas he walked off the mound the final time with one out and one on in the sixth inning and the ageless Atchison coming on in relief,
Carrasco, Atchison and Shaw combined to hold the explosive Tigers offense to a lone second-inning run that was part of another early Carrasco Houdini act. With two on and no outs, he limited the damage to an Avila RBI walk that left loaded the bases loaded before he rebounded to retire the next three batters and leave the bases loaded.
The Indians had staked Carrasco to an early 2-0 lead when they jumped on board right away in the first inning. Michael Brantley sparked the offense when he sliced a two-out single up the middle just to the right of the outstretched glove of Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler.
With Brantley aboard, Carlos Santana sent a two-run home run over the right field corner wall to hand the Tribe a 2-0 advantage against Tigers starter Kyle Lobstein.
The rookie left-hander nearly matched Carrasco out for out, as he also recorded a career-high 10 strikeouts over his 5 1/3 inning outing, keeping the Tribe off the board the rest of the way following Santana’s early homer.
But faced with one more turn through the Tiger’s heart of the order, Allen followed the theme of allowing the Tigers on base, but not stranding them.
The ninth inning began with a Torii Hunter walk followed by a Cabrera single up the middle. Allen appeared to sidestep danger when he retired Victor Martinez (who already had gone 3-for-4 with a double and two singles) after initially falling behind the former Tribe catcher, as he recovered to coax Martinez into lofting a soft fly ball into shallow right centerfield for the first out.
In the end, it wasn't Victor that did the damage, but instead the pesky J.D. Martinez. He turned an Allen fastball into a three-run shot sailed 418 feet to deep centerfield, instantly turning the Tribe’s one-run lead into a two-run deficit.