CLEVELAND — The sun came out for the Indians and their fans at Progressive Field on Saturday afternoon.
For right-hander Carlos Carrasco, too.
Carrasco, the only member of Cleveland’s top-notch rotation yet to have a strong outing, bounced back from a rough debut to help the Indians to a 7-2 victory over the Blue Jays.
Cleveland’s third straight win came with a 58-degree temperature at first pitch and in front of the largest crowd, 18,429, since the home opener.
It was a comfortable environment for Carrasco, who allowed two runs on six hits while striking out a whopping 12 batters over five innings. He is the first pitcher in franchise history to strike out 12 or more in five or fewer innings, and the ninth pitcher in the majors since 1908.
“I love to strike out people, so 12 strikeouts in five innings, that’s good,” Carrasco said. “I just trusted (catcher) Roberto (Perez). I just threw whatever he put down. I told him before the game that I wasn’t going to check (off) anything.”
Carrasco surrendered only one hit over the first three innings, retiring 10 of the first 13 hitters — seven on strikeouts. He allowed both runs in the fifth, one on a solo home run to Freddy Galvis, but struck out Rowdy Tellez with a runner on second to end the inning.
“He had a lot of strikeouts. He had to pitch out of a couple situations, which he did,” manager Terry Francona said. “I just thought, because his first start was a little shorter than we had hoped, getting up around 90 (pitches) was enough. We could have let him go a little bit more, but I just thought he ended the inning on a good note and set up our bullpen.”
The Indians had one of their better offensive efforts, amassing a season-high seven runs on eight hits.
They scored once in the opening inning on a two-out single from Carlos Santana off left-hander Thomas Pannone, who was Cleveland’s ninth-round draft pick in 2013 and spent four-plus years in its minor league system.
The Indians chased Pannone in the third, scoring three times with two outs. Hanley Ramirez walked with the bases loaded and Jake Bauers singled up the middle to score two.
After Toronto scored twice in the fifth, Cleveland matched the output in the bottom of the inning, scoring on a wild pitch and a fielder’s choice grounder from Perez.
Through the first eight games, the Indians have been effective manufacturing offense. Of their 27 runs, 12 have come via walks, sacrifice flies, wild pitches and fielder’s choice grounders.
Struggling third baseman Jose Ramirez returned to the lineup and put up his best game of the season, going 2-for-5 with a double, two runs and two stolen bases.
“He’s swinging the bat good,” Francona said. “He hit the ball to left good and smoked the ball to center. That’ll be the least of our worries, getting him going. He’ll be just fine.”
It was a big day for shortstop Eric Stamets, who got his first major league hit in his first at-bat, leading off the third inning with a double off the bottom of the wall in left-center.
Born and raised in Dublin, Stamets went hitless in his first seven games, striking out 10 times in 16 at-bats.
“They were dousing him in the shower,” Francona said of Stamets’ teammates. “It’s pretty cool. Everybody’s pretty fired up for him.”
There was an unusual moment in the seventh inning.
With the Blue Jays batting, a fan got loose on the field, entering from a section in right field and making it all the way around to left. He eluded a police officer before slipping and falling near the camera bay next to the Indians dugout.
He was subdued, handcuffed and escorted off the field by two officers.
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