It is quite odd and quite distressing that the Indians only seem to be able to put up a decent offensive outing anymore with Carlos Carrasco on the mound.
The Tribe has put 26 runs on the board for Carrasco in his last three starts, but when any of the other four starters go out there, it seems as if the offense goes to sleep.
It did on Friday, when the Indians were shut out on four hits. It did again on Sunday afternoon, when Jeremy Hellickson and two relievers held Cleveland to five hits in another shutout. This time the Indians went down 7-0.
Justin Masterson had his worst perfomance of the season by the numbers today, giving up seven runs — six earned — in just five innings. Masterson (5-3, 3.07 ERA) has now had his two poorest outings of the year against the Rays.
Masterson allowed eight hits, five walks, and did not strike out anyone.
If there is a bright spot to be gleaned from Sunday’s game, it was that Frank Herrmann pitched three scoreless innings mopping up, allowing two hits and a walk and fanning two in dropping his ERA to 8.49.
Oh, and another bright spot: Boston defeated the Tigers in the first game of a day/night doubleheader, so the Tribe’s lead will either be six games or seven, depending upon the result of the second game between the Red Sox and Detroit.
The winner today for Tampa Bay was Jeremy Hellickson, who went seven innings and allowed only three hits and two walks while striking out six. Hellickson (6-3, 2.80 ERA) was given a lead in the third inning, and that would have been enough on this day for Hellickson and for Adam Russell and Cesar Ramos. Russell and Ramos each pitched a scoreless frame, although Ramos did give up two hits in the ninth.
The tone for today’s offensive futility was set in the very first inning, when, with one out and two aboard, cleanup hitter Travis Buck grounded into a double play.
In the Rays’ third, Johnny Damon singled in the first run of the game, and when Evan Longoria scored on a passed ball, it was 2-0 Tampa Bay.
The Tribe put two aboard with two outs in the fourth, but Grady Sizemore struck out to end that threat, and in the bottom of the fourth, Tampa Bay doubled their lead when John Jaso hit his third homer of the year.
The Rays put the game away, for all intents and purposes, in the fifth. Ben Zobrist plated Longoria on a ground out to make it 5-0. Later in the inning, Sam Fuld singled to score Damon, and the final run of the game scored on a fielding error by Asdrubal Cabrera.
The Indians now go to Toronto for three games with the Blue Jays beginning on Monday night. And they had better be ready, as Toronto has a three-game winning streak, all achieved against the Chicago White Sox over the weekend.