CLEVELAND — It wasn’t the tropics, but the weather was warmer at Progressive Field on Wednesday night — 54 degrees at first pitch.
So were the Indians bats.
Cleveland produced a season high with 10 hits and reached its highest run count of the homestand in a 5-1 victory over the Tigers that extended its winning streak to four games — 10 straight over Detroit dating to last season.
“That was really nice,” manager Terry Francona said of the offensive surge. “I felt really good for our hitters.”
He said he was “thrilled” for hitting coach Ty Van Burkleo and assistant hitting coach Victor Rodriguez.
“I know they’ve been going home at night and probably not sleeping real well,” Francona said.
The Indians scored their first four runs in the fourth inning, with five of the first six batters reaching on singles.
Jose Ramirez and Michael Brantley started the uprising with consecutive base hits to lead off the inning, then after Edwin Encarnacion struck out, Yonder Alonso delivered a two-run single down the right-field line for the first runs of the game.
Tyler Naquin and Francisco Lindor also drove in runs, with Lindor collecting his first RBI of the season.
Brantley, who joined Lindor as the only Cleveland players with more than one hit, scored Jason Kipnis with a single in the seventh.
“We knew it was coming,” said Kipnis, who snapped an 0-for-23 skid with a double in the seventh. “Like I said before, we were a little less worried than everybody else. Obviously, you can smile that we were winning games with four hits or less. It used to be four runs or less that we needed or had. But guys are too good of hitters to have it go on for too much longer. I think you’re going to see guys start warming up as the weather does, too.”
The Indians’ stellar pitching to start the season continued, with right-hander Carlos Carrasco notching his third win — and first complete game — in three starts. He allowed only a run on three hits and struck out six.
In what was easily his best outing of the year, Carrasco allowed a hit to the first batter, then retired eight straight. After allowing an infield single in the third, he set down 17 of the final 20 hitters.
All three of the hits went to Leonys Martin, who hit his first home run for Detroit’s lone run in the sixth.
“He pitched a heck of a game,” Francona said of Carrasco, who lowered his ERA from 5.40 to 3.48. “He pounded the zone. His off-speed (stuff) is so effective coming off of his fastball, and he stays down with it so consistently that he just gives himself a chance against every hitter.”
“That was the goal, establishing my fastball first and then I can go with my off-speed,” said Carrasco, who recorded his ninth career complete game, but first at Progressive Field. “My curve, my slider, my change was really good, the two-seamer was as well.”
There was a scary moment early when Tigers starter Jordan Zimmerman was hit in the face by a line drive from Kipnis on his seventh pitch. The exit velocity was 105 mph off Kipnis’ bat.
Zimmerman left the game, but passed concussion protocol and underwent X-rays on his jaw.
“You never want that,” said Kipnis, who was visibly shaken after Zimmerman went down. “Everyone’s out there competing. You want it to be decided by talent and skill and all the other stuff. You don’t want it to be because someone got injured or anything like that, so you never root for anyone to get injured. It was a scary moment. Tough SOB just to walk off like that. He’s got a strong jaw.”
“Boy, it was so nice to see him get up and walk off,” Francona said. “It happened so fast and I guess everybody is kind of holding their breath. When he walked off, he actually looked like he was OK.”
Carrasco had flashbacks to April 15, 2015, in Cleveland, when a liner from Chicago’s Melky Cabrera glanced off his glove and right hand before striking him in the face.
“I think (I was) lucky because it got a little bit of the glove. I don’t know about him,” Carrasco said. “He was hit really hard. I hope everything is fine with him.”
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