CLEVELAND, Ohio – Pitcher Kirk McKarty made an impressive Carolina League debut on Aug. 12 for the Lynchburg Hillcats.
He pitched six scoreless innings, allowed two hits and struck out six in the 2-1 victory over the Down East Wood Ducks.
McCarty retired the final 10 batters he faced. McCarty began the year in Lake County, where he struck out 132 batters while walking just 34 in 22 starts.
He’s a seventh-round pick out of Southern Mississippi in the 2017 MLB Draft by the Cleveland Indians.
After playing third base for most of the season, Gavin Collins has made the transition to catcher full-time. He made the move when Logan Ice and Li-Jen Chu were recently promoted to Double-A Akron. Collins is also starting to heat up with the bat.
Over his last six games, he is 6-for-17 with two doubles and three RBI, including a game-winning hit on Tuesday.
The Hillcats have excelled so far in August. Despite hitting only .214 as a team, Lynchburg is 9-3 this month. The team also has a 3.71 ERA, which includes a game where they allowed 17 earned runs.
Dalbert Siri has not allowed a run in six August appearances, and Sam Hentges has posted a 2.35 ERA through three August starts.
Siri recorded the Hillcats first immaculate inning this season. He struck out the side on nine pitches in the ninth last Sunday to earn his 11th save of the season, tying him for the most in the Carolina League.
Siri has not allowed a run in his last nine innings.
Pitcher Ben Krauth continues to dominate out of the bullpen. The lefty has the most strikeouts of any Lynchburg reliever (84). He has allowed just four earned runs over his last 30.2 IP (1.17 ERA).
Carrasco (15-6) allowed three hits, struck out six and retired his final 10 hitters. The right-hander is tied with teammate Corey Kluber, New York’s Luis Severino and Boston’s Rick Porcello for most wins in the league.
Ramirez’s first-inning homer tied him with Boston’s J.D. Martinez, who entered Friday with the major league lead.
Cleveland has won six straight and is a season-high 19 games over .500 (70-51).
David Hess (2-7) allowed two runs in six innings for the Orioles. Trey Mancinci’s RBI single in the eighth scored the only run for Baltimore, which has lost 11 of 13.
Cody Allen walked Renato Nunez with one out in the ninth. Pinch-runner Craig Gentry stole second before Tim Beckham flied out. Allen struck Joey Rickard for his 24th save in 27 chances.
Both starters worked out of bases-loaded jams. Hess struck out Yonder Alonso to end the third while Carrasco struck out Rickard to finish the fourth.
Carrasco has been nearly unbeatable since coming off the disabled list last month after being hit on the elbow by a line drive on June 16. He’s 7-1 in his last nine appearances, allowing 10 earned runs with 64 strikeouts in 52 innings.
Carrasco’s hot stretch is coming at a crucial time. The Indians announced before the game that Trevor Bauer will miss four to six weeks with a stress fracture in his right leg. He was hit by a line drive last week.
Hess, a rookie right-hander, regrouped after falling behind early. Michael Brantley drew a one-out walk and Ramirez homered to right on a 3-1 pitch. Yandy Diaz singled, but Alonso bounced into a double play. Hess also retired Alonso on a groundout with two on to end the fifth.
Orioles outfielder Adam Jones was placed on the bereavement list Friday and is expected to rejoin the team Monday in Toronto.
Orioles: Gentry (left rib fracture) was activated from the 10-day disabled list before the game.
Indians: Manager Terry Francona said it’s questionable if DH Edwin Encarnacion (right hand contusion) will come off the 10-day DL on Wednesday, the first day he’s eligible. Encarnacion is also dealing with a strained left biceps.
Orioles RHP Alex Cobb (3-15, 5.31) has allowed three earned in 20 innings over his last three starts and will pitch Saturday. RHP Adam Plutko (4-2, 4.75) will be called up from Triple-A Columbus.
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CLEVELAND — Two teams that are a study in contrasts will meet Friday night at Progressive Field to open a three-game series: The Cleveland Indians, who have the biggest lead in any division in the majors, will face the Baltimore Orioles, who are the farthest out of first place of any last-place team in the big leagues.
Cleveland (69-51) leads the AL Central by 12 1/2 games over second-place Minnesota. Baltimore (36-85) is 49 1/2 games behind AL East-leading Boston.
Cleveland swept a three-game series in April in Baltimore. Since the start of the 2017 season, the Indians are 9-1 against the Orioles.
The pitching matchup Friday night is Indians veteran right-hander Carlos Carrasco (14-6, 3.50 ERA) vs. Orioles rookie right-hander David Hess (2-6, 6.25).
Carrasco has been on a roll for most of the season, but since coming off the disabled list on July 6 he has been almost unbeatable. Carrasco was placed on the 10-day disabled list on June 17 with a right elbow contusion, the result of getting hit by a line drive.
He was activated on July 6, and in eight appearances since then he is 6-1 with a 2.00 ERA. In 45 innings, he has 59 strikeouts and five walks.
“He came back (from the DL) fresh, and for whatever reason there was no rust at all,” Indians manager Terry Francona said of Carrasco. “So we’re able to use that to our advantage, because his tank still looks full, and we’re in the middle of August.”
Carrasco’s recipe for success is basic pitching 101.
“He establishes his fastball early, and once he puts his velocity in the head (of hitters), they have to respect that, and that makes his breaking ball really effective,” Francona said.
Friday will be Carrasco’s second start of the season against the Orioles. On April 23 in Baltimore, he was a 2-1 winner, pitching 7 1/3 innings and allowing one run and six hits, with seven strikeouts and two walks. In six career appearances against Baltimore, Carrasco is 3-2 with a 2.51 ERA.
Hess has split the 2018 season between Baltimore and Triple-A Norfolk. In nine starts for Norfolk, he was 3-2 with a 3.15 ERA.
In Hess’ last start for the Orioles, he had a no-decision in a 5-4 Baltimore loss to Tampa Bay on Aug. 9. Hess pitched 5 2/3 innings in that game, allowing three runs and four hits, with three strikeouts and three walks.
Hess’ last major league win came May 25. In 10 appearances (eight starts) since then, he is 0-5 with a 7.13 ERA. Friday will be his first career appearance against Cleveland.
The struggling Orioles come into Friday’s game having lost 10 of their last 12 games, the last of those being a 16-5 blowout loss to the New York Mets on Wednesday.
After a lackluster first half, Cleveland started to build some momentum in the second half. The Indians are 18-8 since the All-Star break. They lead the majors with 98 stolen bases and are second in the American League with 166 home runs.
The Indians won the first two games of the series by a combined 18-4 despite a rough week with outfielder Leonys Martin hospitalized with a serious bacterial infection and right-hander Trevor Bauer on the DL with a fractured right leg.
Kluber (15-6) allowed one run and five hits and struck out seven in seven innings.
Cleveland sent nine batters to the plate in the first inning scoring four runs on four hits, including a two-run single by Yonder Alonso. Third baseman Eugenio Suarez‘s diving stop on Yan Gomes’ hard grounder prevented further damage.
In the second inning, Ramirez doubled and scored on Alonso’s sacrifice fly and an RBI single by Melky Cabrera made it 6-0.
Romano (7-10) left after allowing six runs and seven hits in 1 2/3 innings, the shortest start of his career.
Michael Lorenzen pitched a career-high 4 1/3 innings, tying Keury Mella’s outing on Aug. 2 for the most by a Reds reliever this season.
Ramirez’s solo homer on a 3-2 pitch from Lorenzen in the sixth made it 8-0. He also homered in the third inning on Monday.
Kluber retired the Reds in order three times. He struck out three straight batters in the sixth after allowing Billy Hamilton‘s leadoff single.
The only run Kluber allowed was when Tucker Barnhart tripled for the second time this season and scored on Preston Tucker’s single in the seventh.
In his past four starts vs. Cincinnati, Kluber is 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA.
Tyler Olson, recalled from Triple-A Columbus on Tuesday, pitched a scoreless ninth inning for Cleveland.
Alonso expressed concern on Tuesday for his friend and teammate Leonys Martin who’s in stable condition at the Cleveland Clinic where he’s being treated for a bacterial infection. ”It hit home for sure,” Alonso said. ”All you can do is pray. He’s young, he’s in shape. He’s going to get through this. When something like this tragically happens, it reminds you there’s more than baseball.”
Indians: Trevor Bauer went on the 10-day disabled list on Tuesday with a small stress fracture in his right fibula. Bauer was struck by a line drive on his right ankle on Saturday and a MRI on Tuesday revealed the fracture. There is no timetable for his return.
Reds: Scott Schebler experienced no issues with his sprained right shoulder while throwing on Monday. He could be sent out for a rehab assignment at either Triple-A Louisville or Double-A Pensacola later this week.
Indians: Rookie right-hander Shane Bieber (6-2) will make his 12th start of the season and face the Reds for the first time.
Reds: Robert Stephenson (0-1) will make his second start since being recalled from Triple-A.
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Bastian further reports that the Indians don’t have a timetable for Bauer’s potential return just yet. A stress fracture in the lower leg — fortunately the fibula is the smaller bone, at least — could mean trouble for a bit, though.
The good news is the Indians have a 12 1/2-game lead in the AL Central with a touch less than seven weeks remaining in the season. They would have to pretty wildly screw things up to not win the division again.
The bad news would be if Bauer isn’t back to form by the postseason. Bauer is 12-6 with a 2.22 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 214 strikeouts in 166 innings this season. Yes, he’s pitching like a bona fide ace. Corey Kluber likely would remain the Indians’ top starter heading to the playoffs, but Bauer is right with him and would give the team an incredible 1-2 punch.
For now, Bauer and the Indians can take their time and make sure he’s right before putting him back on the mound. That’s the luxury of having such a huge lead and playing in such an awful division.
The loss of Bauer is a blow to the Indians’ starting rotation, with the 27-year-old in the midst of the best season of his career. In 25 starts, Bauer has amassed a 12-6 victory to go along with a career-low 2.22 ERA — the third best in the American League. Earlier this year, he was selected to his first All-Star appearance.
While no timetable has been given for Bauer’s return, the Indians have recalled reliever Tyler Olson from Triple-A Columbus. Meanwhile, right-hander Adam Plutko is expected to take Bauer’s next start in the Indians’ rotation.