It might be a coincidence that Carlos Carrasco performed with more skill and confidence as a relief pitcher against the Los Angeles Angels a week ago than in almost any of his 2014 starts.
Then again maybe not.
“It felt different the first time,” Carrasco said of his relief appearance after starting Wednesday against the Minnesota Twins. “I was more aggressive when I came out of the bullpen.”
Most starters find something negative to say about being relievers, because they don’t want to do that job. Carrasco had every chance to do that after his outing in Minnesota but didn’t.
He gave up four runs and 10 hits in 4⅓ innings to a Twins club that is hardly known as an offensive juggernaut. When he worked five innings of long relief, he was facing an Angels team that is much more productive at the plate, yet he held them to one hit.
At the moment, Carrasco has no role with the Tribe. He was called up because he can pitch multiple innings, and manager Terry Francona was protecting himself in the event one of his starters got knocked out of a game early.
But after Carrasco’s impressive outing against the Angels, he became the ideal pitcher to make a spot start against the Twins and give Scott Kazmir a three-day break to rest his tired arm.
As it happened, Carrasco didn’t do much to further his stature as a starter on Wednesday. Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Zach McAllister, Danny Salazar and Kazmir already give the Tribe a full complement of starters. If Carrasco stays with the team, he will have to pitch out of the bullpen.
“Things are a little fluid right now,” Francona said. “I don’t know [if he will stay in the bullpen]. Things change so quickly. You have to be ready with Plan B, Plan C, everything.”
Francona said he would meet with his staff on Thursday and come up with his next move.
LONG AGO LONG BALLS — When Rocky Colavito visited Progressive Field last weekend for his 80th birthday, he was asked if hitting four home runs in one game was his biggest thrill.
“It was, but it wouldn’t have been if I could have been on a pennant winner or won a World Series,” he said.
The four home-run game reminded Colavito of another big day at the plate, after he was traded from Cleveland to Detroit.
“I hit three in a game in Cleveland for the Tigers,” he said. “After the third one, I was thinking that I would be the only player in history to hit four in a game twice.
“I was looking for something I could hit long and hard and a pitch into the upper deck, just as far as any of the home runs but foul by 15 or 20 feet. On the next pitch, I hit a shot to the second baseman, so I never got there.”
OTHER STUFF — The Indians are 8-2 in extra-innings games, 3-0 on the road. … Carlos Santana’s home run against the Twins on Wednesday was his first on the road since April 21 in Houston. … In 12 games against the Twins this season, Jason Kipnis is batting .447 with four doubles, three triples, three home runs and 18 RBI. … In his past 10 games, Michael Brantley is batting .325 with three doubles and five RBI. … Since the Al-Star break, Mike Aviles is batting .276 with 10 doubles and 28 RBI in 18 games.
FARM FACTS — Daisuke Matsuzaka (5-7, 3.62 ERA) gave up three runs and nine hit in seven innings, as Columbus lost to Indianapolis 3-2. … Cole Cook (2-1, 4.29 ERA) pitched six scoreless innings, giving up three hits and one walk in Carolina’s 7-0 win over Myrtle Beach. Alex Lavisky homered and drove in two run. … Joe Sever had three hits, including a double, and three RBI, as Lake County outlasted South Bend 10-9 in 10 innings.
— Sheldon Ocker