CLEVELAND -- Something looked off to Indians manager Terry Francona. The velocity on right-hander Carlos Carrasco's fastball dropped to a troubling level, and the pitcher began shaking his non-throwing arm a few throws into the fifth inning on Sunday afternoon.
Taking no chances, Francona hustled to the mound to check on his starter.
"It wasn't that normal energy he has in his delivery," Francona said after Cleveland's 7-3 loss to the Orioles at Progressive Field.
The unexpected mound visit came after Carrasco fired a 92-mph fastball to Matt Wieters with his third pitch in the fifth. Francona was joined on the field by one of Cleveland's trainers, and the pitcher was caught off guard by the brief chat.
For Carrasco, it was just a bad day at the office. Physically, the righty said he felt OK.
"It kind of surprised me," Carrasco said. "I thought he was going to take me out of the game or something. He asked me how my arm was feeling. I was feeling good. I was stretching my arm -- that was it. I was sitting there for maybe 10 minutes [between innings], but I'm fine."
The only thing that was not fine on this afternoon was Carrasco's pitching line.
Following a stretch of six straight starts in which he lasted at least six innings -- working into the seventh in five of those starts -- the big right-hander only lasted four frames against the Orioles. That marked the shortest outing for Carrasco since April 14, when he was forced out of an outing against the White Sox in the first inning after being hit in the head by a line drive.
Baltimore tagged Carrasco (7-5, 4.35 ERA) for five runs on seven hits in his abbreviated effort, which included three strikeouts and a pair of walks. Adam Jones belted a two-out solo home run in the first inning, the Orioles pushed across three runs with two outs in the fourth and Baltimore tacked a run on Carrasco's line after his exit in the fifth inning.
"I didn't have my best stuff today," Carrasco said. "My fastball command, it was a little bit out of the zone. I had to use more sliders, so they saw that a lot, and that's why I gave up hits."
The outing came after a strong three-start stretch, during which Carrasco posted a 1.71 ERA with a .538 opponents' OPS and 23 strikeouts in 21 innings.
"This game sometimes is up and down," Carrasco said. "You have to be ready for something to happen. I learned from today. I'll take it for the next start."
After the pitch that prompted Francona's mound visit in the fifth, Carrasco threw two more pitches: a 94-mph fastball and a 93-mph fastball. Wieters turned on that last pitch and sent it bouncing off the wall in right field for a leadoff triple. At that juncture, Francona decided it was best to pull the plug on an uncharacteristic outing for the pitcher.
"I just thought pretty much the whole day, it just didn't seem like he had his real good stuff," Francona said. "His secondary pitches didn't have the bite to them. It was a fight the whole way. ... So, rather than just make him fight through another inning, which really I think tires guys out, we got him out of there."