Here are 14 Walk-Off Thoughts after the Indians' 6-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday night.
1. The Indians dropped their fifth game in their last six and scored three or fewer runs for the first consecutive day. The larger issues with the offense have been written about extensively this week and will be again in Sunday's column. But as for Carlos Carrasco Saturday night, his home run issues came back to bite him.
2. Carrasco was tagged for three home runs against the Rays, making it five home runs allowed within his last two outings. He's already given up 13 home runs this season after allowing 21 homers in three consecutive seasons from 2016 to 2018. He's been racking up strikeouts 72 in 58 2/3 innings and staying away from walks (10 total). But the home run has killed him.
3. "There's a lot of homers right now," Carrasco said. "I'm pretty sure I'd rather do walks and groundball double plays instead of homers. But you know what, just move on. Tomorrow is a new day, so let's get it working tomorrow for the next start."
4. The main issue to Carrasco and the Indians is that hitters have recently started to sit on his fastball, ignoring his breaking pitches and waiting until they get one they can hit. Within his last two starts, three of his five home runs have come off fastballs. To date, Carrasco hasn't been able to adjust, as his season ERA has remained around 4.60 lately.
5. "They've been doing that for the last three games," Carrasco said. "Just see the fastball, hit it. That's what they're looking for."
6. “One was a changeup middle of the plate, I think that was to Lowe," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "The other ones were fastballs that were either middle or mis-located. I mean, they’re looking for fastballs out over the plate and they take some pretty healthy swings at them and that’s what happened today."
7. The lineup never had an answer Saturday night for Charlie Morton's curveball. And as a struggling offense, they had a tough task this series of facing Blake Snell and then Morton. Against Snell, Shane Bieber, the bullpen and a dribbler in just the right spot bailed them out. But there was no saving grace against Morton's curveball, which he was able to throw 52 times in 106 pitches. Morton pounded the Indians with it, and the homers later on acted as the dagger.
8. “I mean, early on, he was raring back and touching 97 and then that breaking ball, that’s pretty special stuff," Francona said of Morton. "That’s about as good as it gets." He then added, "I hope."
9. Josh Smith was able to make his major-league debut after seven long seasons in the minors Saturday night. He was effective, allowing three hits and striking out three in 1 2/3 innings. It was the culmination of nearly a decade of work riding buses to Double-A and Triple-A stadiums.
10. “I felt like I pitched good," Smith said. "I mean I went out there with the expectations to execute pitches. I thought I did that. I think at times I didn’t throw what I wanted to throw, but eventually once I got to go in after the inning and talk things over, I definitely threw what I wanted to throw.”
11. Smith being pushed into a starter's role in 2018 and then reverted back to a reliever. But, it wasn't a failed attempt. Smith was able to refine some things with that experience, and it helped to lead to his strong start to 2019 that finally brought about the phone call for which he had been waiting.
12. “I think repeating my delivery over and over, having to do that and execute pitches, it helped me a lot," Smith said. "One, to throw strikes. I think early on in my career, I was only a reliever and I walked way too many guys. So, I learned how to pitch and get guys out in the strike zone.”
13. Francona was ejected in the sixth inning after Jose Ramirez had a strike called on a pitch in which he was hit. Ramirez was squaring to bunt and kept the bat out in front of the plate as he was struck. Francona went out to argue and didn't like a few things from third base umpire Eric Cooper, including his tone.
14. “I thought it was a poor call and I told him I thought he had an even poorer night the night before," Francona said. "I want to make sure that Josey knows ... you know, Josey’s grinding right now. That won’t happen very often because I don’t like it, but I didn’t think that was a very good call. Sometimes their attitude has just as much to do with ejections.”
Ryan Lewis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Indians blog at www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at @ByRyanLewis.