Highly motivated Carrasco makes it look easy

Working hard each day after rough outing, righty fans 11 in 7 1/3 scoreless

Highly motivated Carrasco makes it look easy

CLEVELAND -- Second baseman Jason Kipnis and the rest of the Tribe defense had a pretty easy night Friday, as they watched in awe while Carrasco baffled the Marlins' batters with 11 strikeouts in the series opener. They could have even dozed off, if they wanted to.

"Pretty much," Kipnis said when asked if he napped during Cleveland's 6-2 win over Miami. "He didn't need many runs. We got a couple guys like that. When they are on, it's only going to take only a few, because that's all they need."

Carrasco threw 7 1/3 shutout frames, in which he held Miami to six hits. He walked just one.

It marked the 10th double-digit strikeout performance of Carrasco's career, and third of the season. It was his sixth straight start of eight or more strikeouts, which tied the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw for the longest such stretch of the season in the Majors.

But Friday's performance was in the making long before Carrasco took the mound at Progressive Field. After giving up seven runs on eight hits in a loss to Texas his last time out, Carrasco put an extra emphasis on the days leading up to his start against Miami.

"I was disappointed a little bit in myself with the way I pitched," Carrasco said. "I just went for five days working hard and tried to get my mind back, the same way I started the year, the same way that I did last year. That's what I did."

Carrasco was rewarded with an early cushion in the first frame when the Indians were aided by a disputed call on a Kipnis check swing. What would have been a double play turned into a walk. The team responded with a three-spot on just one hit.

"We value our starting pitching so much," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "When guys go out and throw like that ... when you score, it certainly doesn't mean the game is over, but you have some wiggle room. He threw so many strikes with his fastball and then he had his breaking ball and changeup to go with it."

The starting staff has been a large reason that the team has led the American League Central for much of the summer. However, recently the rotation has stumbled. The Indians have already decided to skip Josh Tomlin's next start. Danny Salazar has battled with injuries during the second half.

Corey Kluber has been the only constant, as he has thrown his way into the AL Cy Young Award discussion. But Carrasco's latest efforts may be a sign that the rotation is regaining its form as the team prepares to make a postseason push.

Carrasco is just looking ahead to his next start.

"The way that I pitched today made me feel happy," Carrasco said. "I just need to carry that to the next start."

Shane Jackson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.