Cleveland (92.3 the Fan) – The world saw what the back end of the Indians bullpen could do last season during the World Series, but in 2017, the entire staff of arms is showing their collective prowess.
Monday night was the sixth time Terry Francona has had to turn the ball over to the bullpen prior to the sixth inning out of 37 games. In those games, the ‘pen has gone 29 2/3 innings, allowing just 7 ER on 21 hits, 14 walks. They have also struck out 31.
In that same stretch, Andrew Miller has allowed just a single run, the one he allowed on a Logan Morrison sacrifice fly in the top of the 8th. That was the first run the lefty has allowed since Game 7 of the World Series.
Miller conceded that his leadoff walk to Corey Dickerson allowed that first run to score on his watch, but the southpaw spoke for the rest of the arms in saying they are riding high together.
“Confidence is this game,” he said. “That’s what it’s all about. It’s good when the manager and your teammates have it in you. Ultimately, right now, we all, for the most part, feel pretty good and are confident when we’re going out there and the results are following.”
Outside of Miller’s lone blemish Cody Allen’s near-perfect start to the year hit a momentary snag as defensive replacement Peter Bourjos tagged the closer for a solo home run.
Given the location of the pitch and the fact that Allen was coming off of two straight strikeouts to start the night, he may not be losing sleep over the matter.
The long walk
With two aces on the hill to start open the series, it was common thought that Monday’s affair would be a short one.
At three hours, thirty-three minutes, that was far from the case.
Part of the duration had to do with the Indians’ five-run first, and their six different pitches. The main culprit in all of the above was the game’s 15 walks issued, though thanks to the Rob Manfred Pace of Play initiative, the three intentional bases on balls shortened the game by an estimated 58 seconds.
Between Carrasco and Rays starter Chris Archer, the pair combined for nine walks (six for Archer) over 8 2/3 innings. The two starters threw a combined 176 pitches, but only 98 strikes.
Archer allowed seven runs, six earned, meaning only two came after the opening inning. Manager Terry Francona attributed the big inning to the righty’s inability to locate.
“His stuff is so good,” he said. “We were able to lay off because he was scattering some balls early. Fortunately, we didn’t go out of the zone too much.”
Archer also attributed his success later in the game to that same rough inning and shaky command, though for a different reason.
“It was mental,” the former Indians farmhand said. “I said ‘I got nothing else to lose right right now, i might as well be in the zone’ might as well make mistakes in the zone as opposed to out of the zone. and I did give up a couple of hits and I did walk some people after that, but I was able to at least give us five after a really tough first inning.”
Of the 15 walks issued in the game, seven came around to score – four for Tampa, three for Cleveland.
Bumps and bruises
Carrasco left the game after 3 2/3 with left pectoral tightness, though neither Francona or Carrasco felt worried.
“I don’t think anybody thinks it’s anything more than [left pectoral tightness],” Francona said. “We’ll certainly look at [Carrasco] more tomorrow. I think we’ll have a much better read, but it’s hopeful that maybe a couple days could remedy that, we’ll see.”
OF Abraham Almonte was spelled by Daniel Robertson after re-aggravating a strained right bicep that he suffered in Toronto. A move is most likely coming.
“I give Abe a lot of credit for trying to play through that,” Francona said. “We’ll get him an MRI tomorrow just to see exactly what’s going on. But we’re going to have to shut him down for a little bit. It’s kind of inevitable that he’s going to go on the DL.”
CF Austin Jackson went through agility drills and ran bases prior to Monday’s contest as he works back from turf toe. His timetable is not yet known, though he says he is without pain.
“Probably a few days ago, just doing some running and stuff like that, didn’t have any pain. That’s when I knew I was getting past it a little bit,” he said. “We need to run the bases a couple more times. Do some outfield work, and then we’ll determine what the plan is after that.”
Corey Kluber is also nearing a return from a strained lower back.
“Kluber is throwing, not a full-intensity bullpen, but a 20-pitch bullpen, which is great news,” Francona said. “And then, if all things move accordingly, his next step would be like a full-fledged bullpen. Then after that, there would be a sim game. I think it’s most likely in Lake County, but this is now getting [down the road]. But, the fact that he’s getting up on the mound is good, because that means he’s getting better.”