Smoke Signals: Carrasco’s Start, Mickey’s Visit, and Boyd’s Changeup

Cleveland (92.3 the Fan) – Carlos Carrasco is making up for lost time through three starts.

After missing the final weeks of 2016 with a broken hand, including the playoffs, the right-hander was limited in Spring Training.

Cookie’s first three starts in 2017 have been cake, despite picking up his first loss on Sunday, going 6 2/3 innings, scattering four hits, striking out five and walking five.

Carrasco’s day was plagued by one mistake in the top of the 2nd, a first-pitch fastball right down the middle to a red-hot Alex Avila, who smoked the ball to the bullpens in center.

His third inning started rough, allowing a leadoff double to Jose Iglesias before walking Ian Kinsler. Carrasco settled in and escaped the third after a mound visit from pitching coach Mickey Calloway.

“He told me, just throw your best pitch,” Carrasco said. “That was pretty much it. That was it, that’s what we did.”

His best pitch was apparently three different ones, as the righty retired Nicholas Castellanos on a slider, struck Miguel Cabrera out on a curveball, and got Victor Martinez to pop out on a fastball.

He went on to walk two more before being pulled after a leadoff single from Avila in the 7th.

Carrasco worked well Sunday with fastballs away from the lefty Avila and the switch-hitting Martinez. He also had success with changeups and sliders low to Andrew Romine and Justin Upton, striking out the latter on three separate occasions.

chart 11 Smoke Signals: Carrascos Start, Mickeys Visit, and Boyds Changeup

Overall through three starts, Carrasco is stranding 94.6 percent of runners allowed on base while striking out 8.84 hitters per 9 innings.

“I think he’s been terrific,” Manager Terry Francona said. “We did have some anxiety coming out of camp because he hadn’t pitched a lot, but he sure has answered the call. He looks to be positioned where he’ll be good, he’ll get better.”

On the wrong foot

Tigers starter Matthew Boyd was not surgical by any means on Sunday, allowing seven hits over 6 IP, also walking two.

The lefty pitched to contact, staying largely in the zone, but keeping Indians hitters off balance.

Boyd threw 27 changeups, garnering the most swinging strikes (3) and balls in play (5) than on any other pitch. Of the five changeups in play, Boyd secured two double-plays, a groundout and a flyout. Francisco Lindor singled on a changeup out of the zone, and Jose Ramirez also struck out swinging.

Francona said the pitch played a large role in neutralizing Tribe hitters.

“The changeup kind of took the sting out of our bats,” he said. “Sneaky fastball, real good changeup, and could throw it any time, any count. It’s a good one.”

He threw 31 fastballs.

chart 12 Smoke Signals: Carrascos Start, Mickeys Visit, and Boyds Changeup

“He just located,” Lindor said. “He was being very effective today, and you tip a hat to him. He did a good job. He executed pitches and we weren’t capable of hitting when we had to hit.”

Down on the farm

Second baseman Jason Kipnis continued his rehab assignment in Triple-A Columbus on Sunday, going 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI against Louisville before being lifted for Eric Stamets.

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