TORONTO -- Corey Kluber might be the official ace of the Indians' pitching staff, but if Carlos Carrasco keeps pitching like he did Tuesday night, the recognition he deserves should be right around the corner.
Carrasco continued his dominant start to the season by tossing seven scoreless innings in a 6-0 victory over the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. He faced just two batters over the minimum, did not walk a batter and struck out seven to lower his season ERA to 1.86. It hasn't been a flawless start to the year, but it has been close.
"It's nice for us to break it open a little bit," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "But, [Carrasco] pitched the majority of that game where, if you make a mistake, they're right there. And he was really good. He's been really good. He continues to be."
Cleveland lost Kluber to the disabled list earlier this month, but Carrasco has been there to help fill the void. He has yet to allow more than three earned runs in any of his seven starts, and he has lasted at least six innings in all but one. The latest clinic came Tuesday, when he allowed the Blue Jays to have just one at-bat with runners in scoring position and threw 64 of his 97 pitches for strikes.
"Every pitch [catcher Yan] Gomes called, I was throwing for a strike," Carrasco said. "And I got a lot of ground balls. I've got my teammates there to make a nice play. I think it was everything. The way we attacked the hitters, it was good."
The Indians were led on offense by center fielder Lonnie Chisenhall, who finished 2-for-3 with a pair of doubles. Gomes was responsible for putting the game out of reach in the top of the eighth when he sent a three-run shot over the wall in left field for his second home run of the season. Gomes also singled and walked as part of a 2-for-3 night with a couple of runs scored and three RBIs.
Despite the score, Toronto starter Mike Bolsinger deserved a better fate. He limited the Cleveland offense to a pair of runs over 5 2/3 innings while allowing three hits and walking four. The Blue Jays will now have to decide what to do with Bolsinger, as he's out of Minor League options and right-hander Aaron Sanchez is expected to return from the DL this weekend vs. Seattle.
"I felt good. The second inning I kind of lost it a little bit, walked two guys and it cost me two runs," Bolsinger said. "That's the thing I've been doing well in Triple-A … not walking people, and when you do, it kind of seems to bite you in the butt. But overall I was throwing my off-speed well, and I felt like I had pretty good control of my fastball throughout the game."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Walk this way: Bolsinger fell one out shy of a quality start in his first outing of the year, but the problems he encountered during the second inning were his own doing. Bolsinger momentarily lost the zone and walked the first two batters, which set the table for Chisenhall, who put his team in front with an RBI double to the gap in left-center field. Another run scored during the following at-bat on a grounder to short.
According to Statcast™, Chisenhall's double had an exit velocity of 92.3 mph, which provided some vindication after he had a pair of 96-mph-plus balls put in play during Monday's game that resulted in outs.
"Even though you hit the ball hard and you get out," Chisenhall said, "you continue to do the work that you know is right and stay with it. Then, you get a few to fall one day, and today was a good time for it. The offense has been slow [lately]."
Tacking on: The Indians carried a 2-0 lead into the top of the seventh but picked up some additional breathing room thanks to another RBI double. This time it was Francisco Lindor who came through with a ground-rule double down the left-field line that scored Gomes from second base. Cleveland then had runners on second and third with one out, but the Blue Jays' bullpen was able to limit the damage. Lefty J.P. Howell got Jason Kipnis to pop out, and then right-hander Jason Grilli struck out Edwin Encarnacion to keep it a three-run ballgame.
"They were chasing. That's good. That's good for me. Bad for them." -- Carrasco, whose seven strikeouts all came on pitches outside the zone
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS Jose Bautista snapped an 0-for-21 drought in the bottom of the seventh inning with a single to center. It was the second time this season that Bautista had a hitless skid of at least 20 at-bats, and the latest was his longest since June 22-July 1, 2015, when he went 25 at-bats without a hit.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
With two outs in the eighth inning, Blue Jays reliever Aaron Loup fired a changeup that darted low and inside to Brandon Guyer, who immediately reacted like he was hit by the pitch. Home-plate umpire Phil Cuzzi sent Guyer to first, but Toronto challenged the call. The ruling stood after an instant-replay review, and Guyer said after the game that the ball grazed his left shin. Abraham Almonte followed with a single, and then Gomes delivered the knockout, three-run homer.
WHAT'S NEXT Indians: Right-hander Danny Salazar (2-3, 4.28 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound for the Tribe in a 7:07 p.m. ET clash with the Blue Jays on Thursday at Rogers Centre. Salazar currently leads Major League starters with 13.1 strikeouts per nine innings and ranks third in strikeout percentage (32.9).
Blue Jays: Left-hander Francisco Liriano (2-2, 4.44) will take the mound when the Blue Jays close out their series vs. Cleveland. Liriano limited the Rays to three runs during his last start, but he also lasted just 3 2/3 innings thanks to spotty command and a high pitch count. He has allowed three runs or fewer in five consecutive outings.