Carlos Carrasco sliced and diced his way through Milwaukee's lineup, while Tyler Naquin and Francisco Lindor provided the power in a 6-2 win over Milwaukee. Carrasco struck out 14 in his second complete game of the season.
The Indians ended this trip through New York and Milwaukee with a 1-4 record. They were outscored, 24-20, which shows what a couple of errors and bullpen meltdowns can mean to the team on the wrong end of those baseball pitfalls.
"Carlos really did a nice job," said manager Terry Francona. "He started out kind of sluggish and then pitched his way into feeling good. He used breaking ball really well. It's an understatement, but we needed that."
Carrasco (5-1, 3.61), in his first career appearance against Milwaukee, changed speeds beautifully. From the third through sixth innings, he had nine of his season-high 14 strikeouts. He struck out the Brewers in order in the third and fourth innings.
In the fourth, he struck out Christian Yelich and Jesus Aguilar on 85 mph sliders. He ended the inning by getting Travis Shaw on a 95 mph fastball.
"For the first three innings I couldn't find myself," said Carrasco. "I went back to the dugout and talked to Roberto (Perez, catcher) and Carl (Willis, pitching coach). I said I feel good, but I just couldn't find myself.
"Then I went out for the fourth and we just started getting everything working. We started going fastball slider. Then we went back to slider, fastball. That's what we had talked about before the game. So if they were looking for one pitch, I threw another one."
On Tuesday Francona was asked about Carrasco's skills with the bat. "We just don't want him to get hurt," said Francona, jokingly referring to National League rules that require the pitcher to hit.
Well, after a triple by Perez in the ninth, Carrasco lined a single through the middle in the ninth for the Tribe's final run. He came into that at-bat 1-for-15 in the big leagues.
"In my at bat before the ninth inning, I jammed my right thumb," said Carrasco. "So in the ninth, I told Tito I'm not going to swing. Then Roberto gets the triple and I've got to swing."
Francona rolled out a lineup against right-hander Junior Guerra (2-3, 3.09) featuring four straight left-handed hitters — Michael Brantley, Yonder Alonso, Naquin and Bradley Zimmer — from the fourth through the seventh spot. Guerra has better splits against lefties than righties, but the strategy paid dividends in the fourth.
Switch-hitter Jose Ramirez, batting lefty, doubled to start the inning. Brantley singled to center for a 1-0 lead followed by Alonso's double to left. Naquin followed with a three-run homer to right on a 3-2 pitch for a 4-0 lead. It was Naquin's second homer and his first since April 2 against the Angels.
Naquin, who had two hits Wednesday, came into the game hitting .328 (20-for-61) against righties. Brantley, meanwhile, entered hitting .365 (23-for-63) against righties.
So there may have been a method to Francona's madness.
Lindor pushed the lead to 5-0 with a leadoff homer in the seventh. He hit a 2-1 pitch from Corey Knebel into the second deck in right field for his 10th homer. Lindor, who has hit in 11 straight games, is tied with Ramirez for the team lead in homers.
The Brewers made it 5-1 in the seventh. Yelich and Aguilar started the inning with singles to put runners on the corners. Yelich scored on Shaw's ground ball to second. Carrasco, however, was not done. He struck out the next two batters to end the seventh and retired the Brewers in order in the eighth.
Aguilar added a sacrifice fly in the ninth for Milwaukee.
Carrasco struck out 14 or more batters for the fourth time in his career. He struck out every batter he faced at least once on Wednesday except Hernan Perez.
"To be honest with you, the biggest thing is we won," said Carrasco, when asked if he was more impressed with his 14 strikeouts or RBI single. "We lost four straight straight games. The most important thing today is that the team won the game."
What it means
The Indians have scored 84 of their 164 runs this season on homers. They are 15-11 when they homer in a game.
Guerra threw 99 pitches, 59 (60 percent) for strikes. Carrasco threw 117 pitches, 85 (73 percent) for strikes.
Thanks for coming
The Indians and Brewers drew 26,345 to Miller Park on Wednesday afternoon. First pitch was at 1:10 p.m. with a temperature of 70 degrees. The roof was closed because of rain.
The Indians are off Thursday and open a brief three-game homestand Friday night against the Royals with Trevor Bauer (2-3, 2.53) set to face right-hander Jason Hamel at 7:10 p.m. SportsTime Ohio and WLKR 95.3 FM will carry the game.