By STEVE GOLDMAN
For the Star Beacon
Carlos Carrasco got off to a rough start, and the Tribe batters collected just 3 hits through the initial 8 innings Saturday afternoon. Not exactly a formula for success, as the visiting Minnesota Twins led from wire to wire in a 7-3 win.
The series is even at one game apiece, with the rubber match to take place today at 1:05 p.m.
Carrasco gave up 5 runs (4 earned) in the first 3 innings. He lasted a total of 52⁄3 without surrendering any more, but the damage had been done.
The Twins (2-3) jumped on Carrasco for three runs right away. Brian Dozier led off the game with a home run to left on the second pitch. One out later, Josh Willingham doubled to deep left-center. He moved to third on a groundout, and after a walk to Trevor Plouffe, came home on the first of 3 hits by Jason Kubel.
Josmil Pinto followed by squirting a well-placed grounder through the right side for an RBI safety.
“To hit a ball out to left today (with the wind blowing from left to right), you had to really, really hit it,” manager Terry Francona, whose team slipped to 3-2, said. “So that kind of got everybody’s attention. So I (was thinking) like, ‘OK. You give up a solo homer. We’re going to have to score, anyway.’ But they were able to keep stringing their at-bats together and add to that, which really hurt us.”
“I just started a little slow in my first inning,” Carrasco said.
“I missed that spot (on the home run). I was supposed to throw a fastball down and away, and I threw it inside. And when I saw that home run, everything changed for me. So I started (getting ahead of myself).”
Minnesota tacked on 2 more in the third when Plouffe hit a run-scoring double into the right-center-field gap and came around on two passed balls by Yan Gomes.
“It was 5 (runs against us) pretty quick,” Francona said. “And then (Carrasco) settled down and kind of pitched pretty well, but the damage had been done.”
On the surface, anyway, it seemed like Carrasco’s description of his first-inning struggles contradicted Francona’s observation.
“You could see he must feel more confident (when he settled down afterward), because he’s getting it and working quick as opposed to every pitch maybe being an event, and (having) to talk yourself through it,” Francona said. “When he’s working quick, he’s grabbing it (and) going, so he must feel pretty confident. You can see it in his body language and things like that.”
“I started using more offspeed in my last 4 innings,” Carrasco, who gave up just one hit while striking out 5 after Plouffe’s two-bagger, said.
Meanwhile, the Cleveland bats didn’t make much noise against Kyle Gibson and 2 relievers over the first 8 innings. Gibson, who lasted one batter into the sixth frame, did walk 4 along with 3 hits, but the only run against him came in the fourth.
In that stanza, Lonnie Chisenhall led off with a double and Nyjer Morgan followed with a walk. However, Gibson got Nick Swisher to ground into a double play. Chisenhall then came home on a wild pitch.
“The first 3 or 4 innings, (Gibson’s) ball-to-strike ratio was about even,” Francona said. “But we didn’t ever mount anything. And he made pitches when he had to. As the game progressed, he started to throw more strikes.”
Brian Duensing and Jared Burton combined for 3 hitless innings of relief before the Tribe reached Glen Perkins for a pair of runs in the ninth.
An Asdrubal Cabrera double and a Gomes sacrifice fly brought home the runs. Cabrera’s two-bagger was the team’s fifth and final safety of the contest.
The Twins scored their final two runs in the ninth when they collected 3 hits off Vinnie Pestano, including an RBI safety by Kubel. A wild pitch scored the other run.
The win was the 1,000th in the career of manager Ron Gardenhire, all with Minnesota.
Both Carrasco and Gibson made their first appearance of the season.
Scott Atchison and Josh Outman also worked for Cleveland.
Goldman is a freelance writer from South Euclid.