CHICAGO -- Carlos Carrasco's pitching line on Tuesday night was not pretty. Following more than two weeks on the shelf, while resting a sore right shoulder, the Indians right-hander was roughed up by the White Sox in an abbreviated performance in the Windy City.
In the wake of a 7-4 loss to Chicago, Cleveland was more concerned with Carrasco's health, which was fine during and after the defeat. Carrasco's fastball had life and his arm felt strong. While that did not add up to a win for the Tribe, it does bode well for the final few weeks of this season.
"In the big picture, it's really good," Indians manager Terry Francona said.
Two ill-fated pitches cost Carrasco the most in the loss to the White Sox. The big righty allowed a three-run home run to Chicago catcher Rob Brantly in the second inning and then a solo shot to slugger Jose Abreu in the third. Those blasts accounted for the four runs he surrendered in his 2 2/3 innings, during which he struck out five and walked three.
Francona could have stuck with Carrasco a while longer, but the manager did not want to risk any setbacks for such an important member of Cleveland's rotation. The righty entered the evening with a pitch limit of around 75-80, but Francona pulled the plug after Carrasco logged 58 (36 strikes). Given that Carrasco's start was already delayed more than an hour by rain, Francona felt the pitcher had done enough.
"He came out of the chute throwing really hard, which is good to see," Francona said. "I thought he was working hard and they had a bunch of lefties or switch-hitters coming up. I thought, rather than let him work really hard to get through it, let's let him get his feet wet like he did tonight and he'll be good to go his next outing."
Prior to Tuesday, Carrasco last started for the Indians on Aug. 21. In his five starts prior to landing on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation, he had turned in a 1.36 ERA with a .134 opponents' average. Heading into the start in Chicago, Carrasco had a 2.38 ERA in his last eight starts, a 2.91 ERA in his last 13 starts and a 2.98 ERA in his last 17 turns.
Two weeks off can result in some rust, though.
"I felt great today," Carrasco said. "I think I felt a little bit down in the last inning. It was just kind of like the ball was running away a little bit, but I feel fine."
On the night, Carrasco averaged more than 96 mph on both his two-seam and four-seam fastballs -- a tick higher than his season averages of 95.1 and 95.7, respectively. The starter was also registering higher velocities with all of his off-speed offerings, showing that his arm felt good.
"I thought his stuff was [good]," Francona said. "When he came out of the bullpen, [pitching coach Mickey Callaway] was like, 'It's electric,' and that's how it started."
After Carrasco gave up back-to-back singles in the second, Brantly ambushed a first-pitch, 97-mph fastball for his three-run shot to right field. In the third inning, Abreu pulled an 0-1 split-change into the left-field seats. Both Francona and Carrasco felt the pitch to Abreu was a good one.
"He's got a little bit of a quick swing," Carrasco said. "And he got it."
With Tuesday's outing out of the way, Carrasco is hoping the rust will be gone, too.