Rotation candidate Carrasco endures rough outing
A's erupt for 13 unanswered runs, including five earned runs off righty
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The battle for the final spot in the Indians' rotation finally hit its first snag on Wednesday afternoon. The A's used an outburst of offense to force an early exit from right-hander Carlos Carrasco in a 13-3 victory over Cleveland at Goodyear Ballpark.
Carrasco was scheduled to work five innings in relief of Indians starter Danny Salazar, but lasted fewer than three frames. Oakland tagged Carrasco for eight runs (five earned) on nine hits in just 2 2/3 innings, during which the right-hander ended with two strikeouts and two walks.
The Indians have one vacancy in their starting rotation and currently have Carrasco, Josh Tomlin and Aaron Harang as the three leading candidates, with prospect Trevor Bauer as a darkhorse. The four virtual locks for Cleveland's starting staff include Justin Masterson, Corey Kluber, Zach McAllister and Salazar.
Salazar started against the A's and turned in 3 2/3 shutout innings, finishing with three strikeouts and two walks.
"Right now, I feel ready for the season," said Salazar, who might be slotted into the fifth spot of the rotation. "If you're there, first or second or even fifth, that means you're good. You're good enough to be there."
The Indians initially planned on having Salazar work four innings, but pulled him after he reached his pitch limit.
"I got behind in the count a couple times," Salazar said. "I think that's why they took me out, because I threw too many pitches [in the first inning]. My fastball, I tried to work down [in the zone]. In the bullpen, I threw really good. Out there, I was a little wild."
Oakland starter Dan Straily -- projected to open the year in the fifth spot of the rotation -- allowed three runs on five hits in four innings, ending with three strikeouts against three walks. Mike Aviles contributed an RBI single in the third inning. In the fourth, Bryan LaHair doubled and scored on a single from Matt Carson and top prospect Francisco Lindor chipped in an RBI single to put the Indians up, 3-0.
Things began to unravel for Carrasco and Cleveland in the fifth inning, when Yoenis Cespedes capped off a two-run burst with a run-scoring single. One inning later, when pinch-hitter John Jaso used a two-run single to highlight a three-run showing that pushed the A's in front, 5-3. In the seventh, Oakland added three runs to Carrasco's line.
Three of Carrasco's runs were unearned due to a fielding error by Indians third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall at the start of the sixth inning. Chisenhall made his first two errors of the spring in the contest, during which Carlos Santana logged five innings behind the plate. Santana and Chisenhall have been competing for playing time at third base this spring.
"We started off an inning where we didn't convert a play. But then he didn't limit the damage," manager Terry Francona said of Carrasco. "I thought he worked away from his fastball a little bit. It's a frustrating outing. The good part is it was Spring Training, but we're looking for him to build. It was a little disappointing."
In the eighth inning, Oakland's Nate Freiman belted a three-run home run off Indians Minor Leaguer Shawn Armstrong to pad the A's lead.
Up next: Following a scheduled off-day on Thursday, Indians Opening Day starter Justin Masterson is slated to log six innings against the Rockies in a 4:10 p.m. ET Cactus League clash at Salt River Fields. Cleveland will likely feature a considerable amount of its regulars in the lineup after enjoying a day off. Blake Wood, C.C. Lee, Scott Atchison, David Aardsma and Cody Allen are also penciled in as possibilities to pitch. The game will be available on WTAM-1100 AM, across the Indians Radio Network and on Indians.com.