Carlos Carrasco wasn’t perfect on Wednesday night. Over 6 1/3 innings, he did give up three hits and—gasp—he even walked a batter. But you can overlook that kind of thing when you consider that he did strike out ten Astros. Of the 23 batters Carrasco faced, he threw first-pitch strikes to 17 of them.
When Indians manager Terry Francona pulled Carrasco with one out in the seventh inning, he was sitting on a 1-0 lead, thanks to a fourth-inning solo homer from Carlos Santana. Nick Hagadone relieved Carrasco, but not really, as there is precious little relief involved when a pitcher gives up a walk and a single to the first two (and only) batters he faces. Fortunately, it took Marc Rzepczynski, whom we know and love as Scrabble, only one pitch to retire the side on a 4-6-3 double play.
Mike Aviles, who started the game in left field only because Michael Brantley was injured, homered to lead off the eighth, giving the Indians a 2-0 lead. Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen did their jobs flawlessly, neither man allowing a baserunner.
The series is now even at 1-1. The rubber match takes place on Thursday afternoon, as the Indians send Trevor Bauer to the mound. The Astros will counter with Asher Wojciechowski, who will be making his major league debut. I wish Wojo a long and successful career in the bigs—beginning with his second start, of course.
PS: I’d be remiss if I failed to point out that today, April 8, marks the 40th anniversary of one of the most exciting Indians games I ever attended: Frank Robinson‘s debut as the first African-American manager in the major leagues. Of course, Robinson was also a player for that 1975 team, and he had the good managerial sense to put himself in the lineup in the number two slot that day, whereupon he hit a first-inning home run off Doc Medich of the Yankees. The Indians went on to win the game, 5-3. Now that was a game worth blowing off an afternoon of school for!