Indians' Carrasco barely misses no-hitter vs. Rays
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Three nights in a row, Cleveland Indians pitchers took perfect games into the sixth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays, but none came as close to a no-hitter as Carlos Carrasco did Wednesday night.
One out away. One strike away. And ultimately, an inch or two away.
Rays outfielder Joey Butler lined a ball just inches over the glove of leaping second baseman Jason Kipnis with two outs in the ninth, and Carrasco had to settle for an 8-1 win at Tropicana Field, just short of history.
"Everything was great. Everyone played good," said Carrasco, laughing despite just missing what would have been Cleveland's first no-hitter in 34 years. "More important, we won today."
Carrasco, who struck out 13, lost his perfect game in the seventh -- on a walk to Butler -- but faced the minimum through eight innings.
Tampa Bay began the bottom of the ninth with a walk and a hit batter. A fielder's choice for the first out put runners at the corners. Carrasco struck out center fielder Kevin Kiermaier for the second out but couldn't get Butler to finish the gem.
"If Kip would have been 6-(foot)-6, maybe," joked Indians manager Terry Francona, surprised how nervous he got despite the 8-0 score in the ninth.
Right fielder Brandon Moss had five RBIs in the win, hitting a two-run double in the second inning and a three-run home run in the eighth.
Reliever Austin Adams came in after Carrasco (10-6) threw 124 pitches, and he recorded the final out for Cleveland.
The Indians (36-41) dominated the Rays for the third game in a row, their wins by a combined score of 21-4. Tampa Bay (42-38) lost for the eighth time in 10 games and fell out of first place in the American League East.
Rays batters hit only two balls out of the infield until the ninth inning.
Carrasco's bid at a perfect game ended with one out in the seventh, when he walked Butler on a full count after retiring the first 19 batters in order. The Rays hit into a double play next, so Carrasco had still faced the minimum with his no-hitter intact.
"It's a good thing Joey Butler can hit," said Rays manager Kevin Cash, who was Cleveland's bullpen coach last year. "That was an impressive outing by (Carrasco) -- not much we can do about it. He just had incredible stuff going."
The Indians' last no-hitter came in 1981 when Len Barker threw a perfect game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Cleveland Stadium. The Rays have been no-hit five times in their 18-season existence, including three perfect games that were thrown against them since 2009.
The Rays had the Blue Jays' Marco Estrada take a perfect game into the eighth against them on June 24, so Wednesday marked the fourth time in eight days that the Rays went five innings without a baserunner.
After slow starts at the plate in the previous two wins, the Indians had their bats out early Wednesday, jumping out to a 5-0 lead against Rays starter Alex Colome (3-4) in the first three innings.
"I don't feel like it's a bad start because (I lasted) seven innings, making good pitches," said Colome, who yielded five runs on eight hits. "Every ground ball they hit, (it found) a hole every time."
Cleveland led 2-0 in the second inning after a two-run double by Moss.
The Indians added two in the third on an RBI single by left fielder Michael Brantley and a sacrifice fly by designated hitter David Murphy. Kipnis brought in another run in the fourth with a fielder's choice.
Moss hit added a three-run home run in the eighth -- his 13th of the season -- to make it an 8-0 lead.
NOTES: The Rays optioned 1B Marc Krauss to Triple-A Durham to make room for LHP Matt Moore, who is coming off the disabled list after recovering from Tommy John surgery performed in April 2014. Krauss went 1-for-10 with seven strikeouts in his four games with the Rays. ... Indians RHPs Cody Anderson, Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco took perfect games into the sixth inning on consecutive nights against the Rays. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that hasn't happened for any team since at least 1961. ... The Rays recalled RHP Preston Guilmet and LHP C.J. Riefenhauser from Triple-A Durham to fill the two bullpen openings that were created after Tuesday's loss when the team optioned RHP Tyler Yates to Durham and designated RHP Ronald Belisario for assignment. ... Three key Rays players made rehab appearances for Class A Charlotte on Wednesday. RHP Jake Odorizzi (oblique) threw four innings in his first rehab start, allowing two hits and one run. DH John Jaso (wrist) went 2-for-5, and 1B James Loney (finger) finished 2-for-3.