SEATTLE — After one of the worst starts of his career, Cleveland’s Carlos Carrasco spent several days tinkering to try and find a solution.
All it took was Carrasco picking up his tempo and believing in what he was throwing.
“The last game I didn’t have that,” Carrasco said. “That’s what I worked on the last four days, just to get to this game. I always say that I just want to throw with conviction.
But I didn’t do that in my last game.”
Carrasco rebounded from that miserable outing with 12 strikeouts in seven innings, Jake Bauers hit a solo homer and the Indians beat the Seattle Mariners 1-0 Wednesday to complete a three-game sweep.
Carrasco (2-2) pitched three-hit ball, dominating as the Indians handed Seattle its sixth straight loss. The right-hander struck out the side three times and only allowed one baserunner to reach third base. The 12 strikeouts were the most for Carrasco since striking out 14 in September against Toronto. He walked two.
It was a drastic turnaround after his last start, when Carrasco got just two outs, allowing six hits and six earned runs against Kansas City. It was the shortest outing of his career that wasn’t cut short by injury.
“I think he was aggressive. It looked like there was conviction behind his pitches,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. “He’s got to trust himself a little bit. His stuff is too good.”
The Mariners ended their 20-game home run streak, a record to open a season. Seattle appeared to make it to 21 games in the third, when Ryon Healy hit a line drive down the left field line that was initially ruled a homer. It was overturned to a foul ball via replay, and Healy struck out.
Mallex Smith and Domingo Santana had doubles and Edwin Encarnacion a single for Seattle’s only hits. Santana reached third base with two outs in the sixth after a wild pitch but was stranded when Jay Bruce struck out for a third time.
Nick Wittgren pitched the final two innings for his first career save.
Hitters on both teams said the late afternoon start and shadows made it difficult to read pitches.
“All you can do is battle, hope you get something to hit and put a good swing on it,” Bauers said.
Seattle’s Erik Swanson surpassed the expectations of manager Scott Servais in his first big league start. Servais was hopeful of getting five innings out of Swanson (0-1) in his first big league start, but the rookie nearly matched Carrasco.
“It was a good step in the right direction for sure,” Swanson said.
Swanson allowed two hits over six innings, struck out five and didn’t walk a batter. Bauers was the only Cleveland hitter to solve Swanson, with a single in the second and his second home run of the season on a 3-2 pitch in the fifth.
“He had thrown me a couple of fastballs away prior to that pitch and so I kind of had a good read on it and just decided to sell out,” Bauers said.
Seattle had a miserable homestand at the plate after leading baseball in scoring through the first 15 games. The Mariners hit a combined .175 on the six-game homestand and struck out 72 times. Seattle was held to two runs or less in four of the six games.
The Mariners did face some of the top pitchers in the AL during the stretch including Trevor Bauer, Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander and Carrasco.
“You’re not going to win many ball games when you strike out 13, 14 times. You’ve got to get the ball in play and allow some things to happen offensively,” Servais said. “We’ve seen it really, really good and we’ve seen it poor here this homestand.”
INDIANS: Francona said shortstop Francisco Lindor successfully completed his second rehab game Wednesday for Triple-A Columbus and has one more scheduled for today. The team plans to drive Lindor from Louisville, Ky., to Cleveland to have his calf strain re-evaluated after today’s game.
** Francona insisted 1B Carlos Santana take the day off Wednesday. He said Santana has a tight hamstring and could use the two days of rest he’ll get because of the Indians’ day off today.
MARINERS: Mitch Haniger, the major league leader in extra-base hits, was a late scratch from the lineup due to a fever from a sinus infection.
INDIANS: After a day off today, the Indians return home, where Corey Kluber (1-2, 6.16) is scheduled to start against Atlanta. Kluber is trying to rebound after giving up two home runs, five walks and six runs in 2 2/3 innings in his last start, against Kansas City.
MARINERS: Felix Hernandez (1-1, 4.38) will try to build on the momentum he gained in his first quality start of the season when Seattle opens a four-game series at the Los Angeles Angels tonight.