Carrasco becomes 3rd consecutive Cleveland hurler to flirt with perfection
By Troy Provost-Heron
ST. PETERSBURG -- As Carlos Carrasco sat by his lonesome in the Indians dugout throughout Cleveland's victory over the Rays on Wednesday night, fellow starters Danny Salazar and Cody Anderson understood exactly what was running through his mind.
For the third consecutive night, an Indians pitcher entered the sixth inning with a perfect game. In the 8-1 win over Tampa Bay, Carrasco was perfect through the first 19 batters he faced and proceeded to carry a no-hitter until only one out remained in the ninth. Both bids at history were broken up by Joey Butler, who ended the perfect game with a walk and then singled to break up the no-hitter.
"It's part of the game," Carrasco said. "You know what? It was unbelievable. It was an unbelievable game."
Anderson and Salazar understand what Carrasco experienced.
In the first game of the series Monday, Anderson retired the first 19 batters he faced as well before giving up a solo home run to Grady Sizemore. Salazar responded Tuesday with five perfect innings of his own before he gave up a walk and a hit in the sixth. Combined, the trio of pitchers recorded 53 perfect outs to start their respective ballgames.
"Basically, two perfect games," Salazar joked. "It's awesome. I think we're playing really hard right now. We're executing pitches out there and that's working. We're trying to stay focused and not thinking too much on the mound."
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this is the first time in the Expansion Era (since 1961) that any team has had three consecutive starters complete at least five perfect innings. On Wednesday, Anderson and Salazar were on the edge of their seats rooting and hoping for Carrasco to complete the job.
"It's been a blast," Anderson said. "Tonight was almost mentally draining, because you're just locked into every single pitch, watching it happen. In the third inning, I was like, '[Wow], this is going to happen again.' It's been a lot of fun."
Through the first three games of this series, the Indians pitching staff has forced the Rays to bat just 6-for-85 (.071) at the plate and have tossed 20 one-two-three innings. It's also the first time Cleveland has held an opponent to three hits or fewer in three consecutive games since July 17-19, 1970.
The bids at perfection and hitless ballgames, however, are not something unknown to the Indians. Back on April 9, Trevor Bauer, Kyle Crockett, Scott Atchison and Nick Hagadone fell just two outs shy of a combined no-hitter after Hagadone surrendered a home run to Jed Lowrie with one away in the ninth.
A little over a month later, Corey Kluber, who can continue the perfection-bid streak Thursday, went 6 2/3 innings before allowing a hit in a start where he struck out 18 over eight innings against the Cardinals. Closer Cody Allen worked the ninth in that contest to preserve the combined one-hitter.
"They all have the stuff to do [throw a no-hitter]," Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway said. "I kind of expect it every night, because they have such good stuff. I get to watch their sides and stuff like that and I'm sometimes amazed that they give up as many hits as they do. I'm really proud of them for going out there and kind of feeding off each other."
Troy Provost-Heron is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.