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Indians beat, 4/24

April 24, 2011 Comments off

Carrasco will have elbow checked on Monday

By Jordan Schelling / MLB.com

MINNEAPOLIS — Right-hander Carlos Carrasco left Sunday’s start after just three innings with right elbow tightness.Carrasco, who first felt the tightness during his warm up in the bullpen, was removed after the third when it started to get worse. He will be evaluated on Monday after the Indians return to Cleveland.

“He said he couldn’t get it loose at all,” manager Manny Acta said. “We kind of sensed some of that because the velocity wasn’t where he was in the past, but he kept saying he was fine, just couldn’t get it loose.”

Carrasco said the tightness most affected him on the fastball, which caused his velocity to drop about five miles per hour on average from his last start. Finally, in the third inning, it became an issue.

After holding the Twins to just one hit over the first two frames, Carrasco got hit hard in the third, but some mistakes on the basepaths allowed him to escape with minimal damage.

Alexi Casilla and Denard Span led off the inning with a pair of singles and Jason Kubel added another with one out.

Following Kubel, first baseman Justin Morneau crushed a two-run double to center field that would have plated three runs, had Casilla not been thrown out at the plate by Shin-Soo Choo on Kubel’s single.

Carrasco was replaced by right-hander Jeanmar Gomez, who was available after the Indians decided to push him back until Saturday after Friday’s rainout and Monday’s off-day forced them to alter their rotation.

“[Carrasco]’s going to be evaluated when he comes in, and then we’ll schedule something,” Acta said. “Now, with Carrasco [potentially] down, he can just slide right into Carrasco’s spot. We’ll have to see. We’ll have to evaluate him tomorrow and see how he is.”

Carmona, Santana getting on the job training

MINNEAPOLIS — After the Indians’ 10-3 loss on Saturday night, manager Manny Acta talked about the ongoing learning process for catcher Carlos Santana and ace Fausto Carmona.

In particular, Acta referenced a double-play situation in which he would have preferred Carmona throw a sinker, but the right-hander delivered a changeup that was hit for a two-run single. While he would have liked to see a different pitch, the decision was up to Santana and Carmona.

“We don’t call pitches from the dugout,” Acta said. “We call throw overs, pitchouts, stuff like that.”

When asked about the situation on Saturday night, Carmona seemed to have the same approach to the at-bat as his manager. The only difference came in the execution and pitch selection.

“I was thinking if we could make a good pitch down, we could get a double play,” Carmona said. “But you see what happened.”

Interestingly enough, Morneau’s single was one of only two hits all day off Carmona’s changeup. Every other hit came on a sinker or fastball.

Carmona was confident in his changeup, and had gotten most of his strikeouts with the changeup in his previous start. Could that have led to Carmona using his changeup too much? Acta said pitch selection usually depends on the lineup and how the pitcher feels on any given day.

“You’re not going to have every one of your pitches be the same every five days,” Acta said. “It’s like life, you adjust, adapt, improvise. That’s what it is.”

Perez hoping to face good buddy Valencia

MINNEAPOLIS — If closer Chris Perez gets an opportunity to pitch on Sunday, he’ll be hoping to see Twins third baseman Danny Valencia in the batter’s box.

“I own him,” Perez said.

But would Valencia say the same?

“No he wouldn’t, but I do,” Perez said. “I know I do. I got proof last year, I struck him out on four pitches last year up here. But during intrasquads, he says he’s hit home runs off me. There’s no chance. He’s got no hits off me ever.

“He can’t hit sliders. You can tell him I said that, too.”

Perez and Valencia, who had dinner Saturday night at Tryg’s in uptown Minneapolis, have been friends since they were teenagers. The two played together in a summer league in high school before they were roommates for two years at the University of Miami.

It’s during that time that they developed a rivalry that includes plenty of good-natured ribbing. While he had no trouble talking about his dominance of his former roommate, Perez declined to share any stories about Valencia.

“Nothing that you can print,” Perez said. “He’s a character, really self-confident. I don’t have any real specific stories, but we had good times in Miami.”

Acta says experience paying off for Tribe

MINNEAPOLIS — Everyone wants to know how the Indians have gone from the fourth-worst record in the American League last season to its best through 20 games in 2011.

Manager Manny Acta says it has a lot to do with the experience gained last year.

“It’s a fact that we do have a better ballclub, more experienced guys,” Acta said. “Last year we started the season with three guys that were going to play for the first time in the big leagues. And they struggled offensively, the three of them.

“Then once injuries hurt us with Grady [Sizemore] and [Asdrubal] Cabrera, the number went to five. That’s pretty much it, we were playing a lot of kids up here that were just getting their feet wet. Offensively, they struggled.”

That experience has translated into a much-improved run differential so far this season. Through 20 games, the Indians have scored 102 runs and allowed 76. In 2010, they gave up 106 more runs than they scored.

It’s not hard to figure out why that has changed when you see the Indians excelling both at the plate and on the mound. For the pitching staff in particular, Acta sees at least one significant difference that was learned through last year’s experience.

“In the second half, they threw the ball very well,” Acta said. “They threw a lot of first-pitch strikes, and that’s the same thing they’ve been doing so far. Those guys are at the right age, and we’re expecting them to continue to make progress.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Carmona, Durbin hit hard in loss to Twins

April 23, 2011 Comments off

MINNEAPOLIS — When talking with reporters Friday afternoon, Indians manager Manny Acta said he did not think the Twins were on top of their game yet, but he fully expected them to get there at some point this season.

They took a step in that direction Saturday, but Acta still didn’t think they had gotten there yet. The problem was, according to Acta, that the Indians didn’t take advantage of the Twins’ early season struggles in their 10-3 loss at Target Field.

“Right now, a couple of those guys, I don’t feel that they’re still on top of their game, and we were pitching them like they’re in midseason form when they’re hot,” Acta said. “I just felt like we didn’t attack them properly.”

Indians ace Fausto Carmona got the start after being pushed back from Friday due to the inclement weather. The extra day did not work out too well for Carmona.

After three straight strong starts in which he pitched at least seven innings and gave up no more than two runs, Carmona’s outing against the Twins got ugly in the third inning.

Carmona (1-3) went five innings, giving up six runs on seven hits with four walks and one strikeout. After holding the Twins hitless through 2 1/3 innings, Carmona surrendered all six runs and seven hits between the third and fifth innings.

According to his manager, Carmona was not aggressive enough with some of the Twins hitters, especially Alexi Casilla and Denard Span, who combined for four singles and five runs scored in the game.

“More aggressive with the guys? No, I think I couldn’t throw the first-pitch strike,” Carmona said. “I think I was aggressive enough. But I missed a lot of first-pitch strikes. My slider was not working today.”

In the third, Carmona allowed four straight hits, beginning with three consecutive singles and capped by a two-run Jason Kubel double.

“He’s just one guy I don’t try to do too much with,” Kubel said of Carmona. “I know that if I try to pull it, it’s an out. So I try to go with it because his ball sinks and runs away. He’s a guy you have to bear down against.”

Two innings later, an intentional walk issued to Kubel came back to hurt Carmona and the Indians.

With one run already on the board in the bottom of the inning, Twins first baseman Justin Morneau followed Kubel with a bases loaded single, plating a pair of runs. In that situation, Acta and the Indians saw Morneau as a clear double-play candidate, especially after the first baseman had missed the Twins’ last five games.

Unfortunately for Carmona, he couldn’t keep the ball down in the zone.

“The Morneau situation, he hadn’t played in a few days with the flu, and getting IVs for four days,” Acta said. “[Carmona]’s a sinker ball pitcher, so that’s a double-play situation, we want a sinker there.

“If I’m in bed for four days, I think I’d rather see an 86-mph changeup than a 92-mph sinker.”

For the Twins, the 10 runs marked a season-high and the first time they had plated six or more runs in their last 28 games, including three playoff contests and dating back to Sept. 27, 2010. Twins lefty Brian Duensing, who also was pushed back from Friday’s game, dealt much better with the extra time off.

Duensing (2-0) tossed seven strong innings, allowing just one run on five hits and one walk with three strikeouts. Cleveland’s only run off him came in the fourth when Asdrubal Cabrera led off with a double and later scored on a Carlos Santana grounder to third.

“I got behind today in a lot of counts and wasn’t throwing first-pitch strikes,” Duensing said. “But I threw a lot of sinkers to try to get them to roll over. I’m not a power guy so that’s what I have to do — just let them get themselves out.”

Right-hander Chad Durbin, who relieved Carmona in the sixth, did not fare too much better than the Indians starter. Durbin was not able to shut down the Twins’ suddenly red-hot bats, giving up two runs on two hits in both the sixth and seventh innings.

With one out in the seventh, a 2-0 fastball to Danny Valencia was crushed for a two-run home run, putting the exclamation point on the Twins’ blowout victory.

“He pitched behind in the count,” Acta said of Durbin, who fell behind six of 11 batters faced over two innings of work. “When you don’t have overpowering stuff, you need to pitch ahead in the count. It’s as simple as it sounds.”

The lone bright spots for the Indians offense came in the fourth and eighth innings. In the fourth, Asdrubal Cabrera led off with a double and came around to score on a fielder’s choice by Santana. Cleveland had three hits in the inning but could not string them together for more than the one run.

Indians center fielder Grady Sizemore added a two-run home run in the eighth, his second since returning Sunday from the disabled list, off Twins reliever Dusty Hughes. Acta credited Duensing for shutting down the Indians offense.

“He used both sides of the plate and changed speeds to both sides,” Acta said. “He was good, man. He pitched good. Can’t take that away from him, he threw the ball very well. He did that against us last year too.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.