(Neil Miller/Sportsday Wire)
It is baseball, and once again in the Bronx Friday night the Cleveland Indians were the team that continued to give the New York Yankees problems. And for the fourth time in five games the Indians did not look like one of the worse teams in baseball.
Carlos Carrasco got his 12th win on the mound and recorded his third double digit strikeout game of the season. He was another righthander in consecutive games that the Yankees could not contend with, and his 11 strikeouts had the Yankees wondering what will await them Saturday afternoon when they oppose another righty, 11-6 Danny Salazar.
“They’ve given us trouble,” said Yankees manager Joe Girardi after a 7-3 loss. “I’ve said it always, the one thing about baseball, it doesn’t make sense.” And when the Yankees have trouble scoring runs, as they did again against Carrasco, the game will never make sense to Girardi and the Yankees.
And to be fair enough, as any astute observer of the game will say, good pitching will stop good hitting. The Yankees the past two games against Indians pitching have scored five runs, and once again that is a concern as the dog days of August continue.
But the Yankees manager is not in a panic mode. Yes. Girardi would like to see his team get the bats going again after Carrasco and two out of the Indians pen combined to strike out 13 Yankees. And it was last August 9th against Cleveland when the Yankees struck out 15 times against Indians pitching.
So there is a definite tend these last two years in that the Cleveland Indians, a team dead last in the AL central, play like a first place team against a potent but inconsistent lineup of New York Yankees. This time it was Carrasco, who was the better pitcher against the Yankees’ Masahiro Tanaka who gave up one run and five hits in 6-⅔ innings.
“They’ve pitched extremely well against us and we haven’t scored a lot of runs,” Girardi said. Saturday afternoon when the Yankees honor one their “Core Four”, Jorge Posada, it will be Salazar the 25-year old right hander on the mound for Cleveland. Last week he got a win over New York at home, and allowed one run in 7.1 innings on four hits.
The task will not be easy for Girardi’s team, and it also has a lot to do with an Indians’ core of good starters who have become a bright part of their dismal season. But they are building a solid foundation and for now wins over the Yankees have become a part of that building process.
“I don’t really worry about where the team is in the standings,” the Yankees Brett Gardner said when asked about the Indians’ dominance and how they have not played in the Bronx as a last place team.
He added, “Last place, first place, a loss is a loss and a win is a win. They’re obviously not in our division but every game counts just the same and we just got beat.”
However, Carrasco had good command with his fastball and that caused Gardner to be two of his strikeout victims. The splitter and changeup also had the Yankees taking bad swings and any contact made all went for outs. Still the Yankees know that they have two more games remaining with these Indians Saturday and Sunday, and they need to figure out a way to get out of this latest slide of their inability to score runs.
Carrasco through the first three innings allowed one hit and struck out six. Once again the Yankees, who lead baseball by a wide margin in scoring first inning runs, had difficulty with a right handed weapon that the Indians seem to have when facing the Yankees.
And the only extra base hit for the Yankees came in the fourth inning on a Carlos Beltran double. Carrasco who struggled last year has quickly become a good arsenal for manager Terry Francona and the Indians.
“I had confidence and just found it today,” said Carrasco about his seven innings of good pitching against a Yankees offense that seemed to be getting out of their hitting tailspin in the past week. “Right now everything is down and not up.”
“Everyone in the starting rotation is doing hard work,” he said about the Indians staff limiting the Yankees to five runs in the first two games. “We all pay attention to what the other guys is doing and that’s competition which is all good.”
The Yankees, though, have not found a way to figure out how to get by that competition against the Indians. They will try and find the solution by Sunday because the first place west leading Houston Astros come to the Bronx for three games starting Monday night.
If not, that half game first place lead over Toronto will not look that way in the standings.