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Ramirez, Encarnacion lead Indians to fifth straight win

By JOE NOGA • Jul 7, 2018 at 1:58 AM

CLEVELAND — Carlos Carrasco returned to the mound and the Cleveland Indians offense got back in the groove at home Friday with a 10-4 victory against the Oakland Athletics at Progressive Field.

The top four hitters in the Tribe's lineup went 8-for-13 with four doubles and seven RBI, scoring eight runs to lead the way for Cleveland.

Jose Ramirez belted a two-run double off the wall in right field in the third inning that scored Francisco Lindor and Michael Brantley and gave the Indians a 3-2 lead they never surrendered.

Cleveland's third baseman, who leads American League vote-getters on the All-Star ballot at the hot corner, added an RBI single in the seventh as the Tribe scored four times off A's reliever Emilio Pagan to seal the win.

With nine games remaining before the All-Star break, Ramirez and Lindor became the first pair of Indians teammates to each have 50 extra-base hits in the first half of the season.

Athletics pitcher Paul Blackburn stymied Cleveland hitters when he faced them June 29 in Oakland, striking out five and allowing just three hits in 6 1/3 innings as the Athletics picked up the win. But the second-year righty could not keep a lid on the Tribe's offense this time around.

Lindor, who tied Boston's J.D. Martinez and Seattle's Jean Segura with his American League-leading 36th multi-hit game, said Friday's success was mostly about being patient and getting a good pitch to hit.

"Last time, we had to take our hats off to him," Lindor said. "This time, we made the adjustments."

Jason Kipnis got the Indians on the board in the bottom of the second with an RBI single to right that scored Edwin Encarnacion. Encarnacion scored despite running through a stop sign from third base coach Mike Sarbaugh.

Manager Terry Francona said Encarnacion gets caught up in the "energy of the game" and it spreads to his teammates, who were aggressive on the bases throughout the night.

"We're certainly not going to win a ton of games with his legs," Francona said. "That's not why we have him, but when he does things like that it really gets the guys riled up and I think it's contagious."

Brantley chased Blackburn (2-3, 7.16) from the game with an RBI double in the bottom of the fifth. He later scored on Encarnacion's second RBI sacrifice fly of the game to put the Tribe ahead 6-3.

Carrasco (9-5, 4.28) returned to the mound after missing 16 games with a bruised right elbow and pitched 5 1/3 innings. He allowed three runs on seven hits and struck out seven.

Home runs by Oakland's Dustin Fowler in the first and Matt Olson in the second put the Indians in a 2-0 hole, but Carrasco settled in, striking out the side in the third inning before allowing a run on a soft liner by Fowler in the fifth.

Francona said Carrasco was able to hang in the game because his curveball was very effective.

"He kept them in check and he really found his breaking ball," Francona said. "There were a couple innings there where he threw six, seven, eight in a row but they were so good."

Six Indians relievers finished things off for Carrasco, allowing a run on three hits in 3 2/3 innings.

Special K

Carrasco's seven strikeouts bring his career total to 999. He needs one more in order to become the 12th player in Indians history and the 17th active pitcher in the major leagues with 1,000 punchouts.

Stealing home

Lindor stole home in the seventh inning on the back end of a double-steal with Ramirez. It was the second steal of home this season for the Indians. Greg Allen swiped home against Minnesota on June 2 as part of a double-steal with Kipnis.

Ramirez, through interpereter Will Clements, credited Lindor's instincts for allowing him to score when he saw an opportunity.

"When I'm stealing second, I'm thinking that would be a great thing if he's able to come home because he's the kind of guy who plays the game with a lot of energy and a lot of speed and that's the level he plays at," Ramirez said.

Slap you very much

Reliever Marc Rzepczynski had an interesting outing in the sixth that lasted six pitches and included a putout at second base on what should have been a double to right field by Oakland's Olson.

Olson cruised into second base just as Tyler Naquin's throw arrived, and Lindor quickly slapped a tag to the Oakland first baseman's side. Second base umpire Eric Cooper ruled Olson safe, but the Indians challenged the call.

Replay showed that Olson had overrun the bag as Lindor's slap tag was being applied. The call was reversed and Rzepczynski was lifted after facing one batter. It was Naquin's first outfield assist of the season.

Light 'em up

Brantley's RBI double in the fifth inning was memorable as much for the run that scored as it was for what happened next. The 396-foot drive to the center field warning track got over the head of Oakland's Fowler and was followed by a fireworks blast, ignited by the crew atop the Gateway East parking garage.

The scene was reminiscent of a Sept. 15, 2015 game against Kansas City when the Indians fireworks crew set off a volley of pyrotechnics following a home run by Royals outfielder Alex Rios. Typically, fireworks salutes are reserved for Indians home runs at Progressive Field.

Perhaps the crew was feeling antsy. Or maybe it was a residual itchy trigger finger after Wednesday's Fourth of July celebrations. Either way, it caused more than a few heads to be scratched at the ballpark.

What it means

Cleveland won its eighth consecutive home game and 15th in its last 17. The club's 28-13 record at Progressive Field ranks third in the majors behind the New York Yankees and Boston. The Indians evened the season series against Oakland at 2-2 and have won seven of their last eight against the Athletics at home. The Tribe improved to 10-14 against the American League West Division.

The pitches

Carrasco threw 96 pitches, 65 (68 percent) for strikes. Blackburn threw 72 pitches, 46 (64 percent) for strikes.

Thanks for coming

The Indians and Athletics drew a sellout crowd of 34,633 fans to Progressive Field on Friday night. It was the third announced sellout of the season (April 6 vs. Kansas City, June 23 vs. Detroit). First pitch was at 7:10 p.m. with a temperature of 72 degrees.

Up next

Right-hander Corey Kluber (12-4, 2.64) faces the Athletics on Saturday afternoon at 4:10 p.m.. SportsTime Ohio and WLKR/FM 95.3 will carry the game. Edwin Jackson (1-0, 2.13) gets the start for Oakland.

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