CLEVELAND -- Run support has been a consistent issue for the Indians' pitching staff of late. Carlos Carrasco became the most recent victim of Cleveland's enigmatic offense on Friday night, when his solid effort on the mound turned into a hard-luck loss.
Following the Indians' 4-1 loss to the Rays, Carrasco did all he could do. The pitcher shrugged off the low offensive output as part of the game.
"That's going to happen," Carrasco said. "You just try to go deep in the game and keep it there."
It has been happening too often lately for the Tribe, though.
Against Tampa Bay, the Tribe turned in a 1-for-9 showing with runners in scoring position, stranding seven runners in the process.
Cleveland had runners on the corners and no outs in the first inning, but only managed one run (thanks to a wild pitch from Rays starter Nate Karns). The Indians had runners on first and second with one out in the fourth inning, and later had runners on first and second with no outs in the sixth, and Cleveland came up empty at both turns. In the sixth-inning situation, Carlos Santana, Ryan Raburn and Brandon Moss struck out consecutively.
"Every one of us goes up there and gives our best at-bat we can every time," Moss said. "Obviously, it hasn't worked out well lately as far as runners in scoring position, but once you hit the ball, you can't control where it goes. Obviously, striking out stinks, but when a pitcher makes good pitches, you tip your cap and say, 'That [stunk],' and you move on."
The struggles with runners on base has been one of the strangest statistical elements of Cleveland's season.
Entering Friday, the Indians led the Majors with a .751 OPS with the bases empty, but ranked 26th with runners in scoring position (.675) and 28th with runners on base (.686). Dating back to June 1, Cleveland has hit .194 with RISP, but .265 in all other scenarios. Dating back to May 1, the Tribe has hit just .224 with RISP, but .275 in all other situations.
"They seem to always trend one way or the other," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "When it starts to trend the other way, we'll all be a little happier. It seems like we had a lot of innings with first and second and nobody out, and then you look up and that's the way the inning ended. I'd rather have the opportunities, but we don't seem to do much with them lately."
That made it a tough night for Carrasco.
Over 6 2/3 innings, Carrasco scattered 10 hits, but he issued no walks and limited the damage to a pair of solo home runs (Joey Butler in the first inning and Asdrubal Cabrera in the second) and a sacrifice fly (Jake Elmore in the seventh). That showing goes in the books as a quality start for Carrasco, but it also made for his sixth loss of the year.
"On a lot of nights, we're probably saying he pitched pretty well," Francona said. "We had a couple really good chances and didn't do much with it. That was kind of the game."