By Jeffrey Flanagan and Jordan Bastian
KANSAS CITY -- Right-hander Carlos Carrasco threw 6 1/3 innings of no-hit ball and finished with a one-hitter while striking out a career-high 15 as the Indians rolled to a 6-0 win over the Royals on Friday night at Kauffman Stadium.
Carrasco became the first Indians pitcher to pile up at least 15 strikeouts in a shutout consisting of no more than one hit allowed. That overpowering pitching line has only been achieved 16 times in the Majors since 1914 -- most recently by Washington's Max Scherzer on June 14 earlier this season.
"He was unreal today, man," Indians catcher Roberto Perez said. "He pounded the zone. It almost seemed like they didn't know what was coming. So, that made it easy for us to call a game."
The Royals' lead over Toronto for home-field advantage throughout the postseason dropped to one game. The Indians pulled within three games of the second American League Wild Card spot, with the Rangers' 6-2 win over the Astros.
Asked if he got a little nervous about being no-hit, Royals manager Ned Yost said, "I don't get nervous. I was a little concerned."
"When I saw we had five runs, I was like, 'OK, this is my time to do my best,'" Carrasco said. "We're right there. We're only [three] games back and I think we have only 10 games left. You never know what can happen."
Carrasco, who delivered his first career one-hitter, was dominant against a Royals' lineup that featured only two regulars as Yost rested his "A" lineup a night after clinching the AL Central. Carrasco walked two.
Yost said he would have started using his regulars in the eighth and ninth if Rios hadn't gotten his hit.
"He could have beat anybody tonight with that stuff," Yost said. "The job that he did out there, he's going to beat anybody with that stuff tonight.
"I do not regret [the lineup] one single bit. Again, it's important. These guys have been playing their tails off. They accomplished something special. I wanted them to celebrate it. I didn't want them to cut their celebration short thinking, 'OK, well, we got to play tomorrow.' Celebrate it. Enjoy it. We'll get back to business tomorrow."
Right-hander Edinson Volquez started for the Royals and gave up three runs through six innings. He struck out seven.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Hats off: Two batters into the game, Ramirez gave a Volquez pitch a jolt and the Indians a lead. The third baseman pulled a 2-1 offering over the wall in right-center for a homer (his fifth blast of the year) to put the Indians up, 1-0. Ramirez, whose helmet often falls off when he runs, lost his lid on his trot between first and second base.
"He's driving the ball now. He's got his legs back under him," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "You're starting to see, he's a little guy, but he's strong. And the ball comes off his bat good when he hits like he can."
Power play: The Indians offered Carrasco sufficient support with two more home runs, following Ramirez's blast. Abraham Almonte followed suit with a two-run home run off Volquez in the second to give the Tribe a 3-0 lead. After Volquez exited the game, Perez belted a two-run shot off reliever Franklin Morales in the seventh.
Rios comes through: Rios has been the Royals' hottest hitter: He's 20-for-56 (.357) in the month of September and just recently had a season-high 11-game hitting streak stopped. He went 3-for-5 in the division clincher with a triple on Thursday.
"Perez called a slider down and away. I wanted to throw inside," Carrasco said. "I shook to a fastball, because I threw one before and he missed and it looked like he was uncomfortable with that. That's why I went with a fastball insider and he got it. I think he knew it [was coming]."
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With his strikeout of Jonny Gomes in the second inning, Carrasco reached 200 strikeouts on the year. Carrasco and fellow Indians starter Corey Kluber (230 strikeouts) are only the second set of Cleveland teammates to each have 200-plus punchouts in the same season. Sam McDowell and Luis Tiant also achieved the feat in 1967 and '68.
Carrasco and Kluber (May 13 against St. Louis) also became the first AL teammates to each have a start in the same season consisting of zero runs allowed, no more than one hit surrendered and 15-plus strikeouts. The only other set of teammates to achieve that feat are Hall-of-Famers Nolan Ryan and Tom Seaver, who did it for the Mets in 1970.
While there wasn't a no-hitter on Friday at Kauffman Stadium, there was a bit of history: For the first time an Almonte faced an Almonte. Royals reliever Miguel bested Abraham by inducing a flyout in the eighth inning.
WHAT'S NEXT Indians: Right-hander Josh Tomlin (6-2, 2.43 ERA) will get the ball on Saturday at 7:10 p.m. ET for the middle game of this series at Kauffman Stadium. Tomlin hasn't allowed more than four runs in any of his eight starts.
Royals: Right-hander Kris Medlen (5-1, 3.51) will start the series rematch on Saturday at 6:10 p.m. CT. Medlen is coming off a five-inning outing against the Tigers in which he gave up five hits and zero earned runs.