Carlos Carrasco struck out 10 while taking a shutout into the eighth inning, winning his fourth straight start since returning from the disabled list to carry the Cleveland Indians to a 2-0 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday.
Brad Hand recorded the last five outs for his second save with the Indians, who stretched their lead over the Twins in the AL Central to 10 games and improved to 32-15 in intra-division games this season.
Carrasco (13-5), who missed three weeks with a bruised elbow before his reinstatement on July 6, has 63 strikeouts in his last eight starts. This was his fourth turn with double-digit strikeouts, and he won his fifth straight decision. Carrasco picked up a victory with one inning of relief on July 15, right before the All-Star break.
The Indians, who won a series against the Twins for the first time in four tries this year, have allowed only 13 runs over their last six games. Their ERA against AL Central teams is 2.70 this season, the best intra-division mark in MLB. The Indians also led the major leagues in July in runs, steals and batting average.
The bullpen that has been their biggest concern? Over the past nine games, Indians relievers have a collective 1.08 ERA. Hand’s arrival in a trade with San Diego two weeks ago was a big boost. The Minnesota native has 26 saves in 31 opportunities in 2018, including his time with the Padres.
Jorge Polanco, who had two of Minnesota’s five hits, singled in the fourth after Carrasco retired the first 11 batters. Joe Mauer hit his first triple of the year after an eight-pitch, two-out at-bat in the sixth, but Carrasco struck out the side.
Adalberto Mejia gave the Twins five scoreless innings to start with only one hit allowed, but reliever Matt Magill allowed a run in the sixth when Rajai Davis came home during catcher Mitch Garver’s throw to second base to catch Jose Ramirez stealing. Davis, who was not credited with a stolen base, started the rally with a single.
Magill pitched for the third time in five days, after only one appearance in the previous 17 days. Over the last six days, the Twins have traded relievers Zach Duke and Ryan Pressly and starter Lance Lynn, whose departure created a permanent place for Mejia in the rotation instead of being in the bullpen.
Yan Gomes added to Cleveland’s lead with an RBI single in the ninth against Twins closer Fernando Rodney, a rally aided by an error on the shortstop Polanco.
MARTIN ON BOARD
Leonys Martin, who was acquired to bolster the injury-depleted outfield in an intra-division trade with the Detroit Tigers to beat the deadline on Tuesday, made his Cleveland debut as a pinch-hitter in the sixth inning and singled in the ninth. Greg Allen, who had three runs and three hits on Tuesday, was sent back to Triple-A Columbus after two games.
FORSYTHE FORSAKES SLEEP
Logan Forsythe, who came to Minnesota with two minor league players from the Dodgers in the trade for Brian Dozier, made his first appearance for the Twins by sharply grounding into a double play as a pinch-hitter in the eighth. Lindor made a slick scoop and pivot from his shortstop position to start the play.
After boarding a red-eye flight from Los Angeles, Forsythe was at the ballpark for the matinee on minimal sleep.
“It’s a new way to kind of mesh in with a new clubhouse and a core group of veterans,” Forsythe said. “It’s just exciting, man. It’s a new chapter.”
Indians LHP Andrew Miller could rejoin the bullpen on Friday, manager Terry Francona said, or he might be asked to stay on his rehab assignment and pitch more than one inning. Miller has been out for more than two months with knee trouble.
Indians: There’s no game scheduled on Thursday, before the team returns home to host Los Angeles in a three-game series. RHP Mike Clevinger (7-7, 3.43 ERA) starts for the Indians, and RHP Jaime Barria (6-7, 3.74 ERA) pitches for the Angels.
Twins: Following a day off, RHP Jake Odorizzi (4-7, 4.58 ERA) takes the mound on Friday night to start a three-game series against Kansas City. RHP Heath Fillmyer (0-1, 3.29 ERA) pitches for the Royals.