CLEVELAND – Carlos Carrasco smiled when asked about his overpowering performance against the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday.
It’s easy to see why.
Carrasco became the first Indians pitcher since at least 1908 to strike out 12 over five innings and Cleveland beat Toronto 7-2.
“I love to strike out people,” he said. “Twelve strikeouts in five innings is good.”
Carrasco (1-1) struggled in his first start of the season, allowing six runs in 4 1/3 innings against Minnesota. The right-hander bounced back and completed his 23rd double-figure strikeout game, holding the Blue Jays scoreless until the fifth.
Freddy Galvis hit a one-out homer and Randal Grichuk had an RBI double with two away. With the tying run at the plate, Carrasco struck out Rowdy Tellez on his 90th and final pitch.
Carrasco gave up six hits, walked one, hit a batter and had a baserunner in every inning.
“We could have let him go a little more, but he ended the inning on a good note and set it up for our bullpen,” Indians manager Terry Francona said.
“It was his day,” said Toronto outfielder Teoscar Hernandez, who struck out twice and singled against Carrasco. “Everybody knows he’s one of the best pitchers in the league.”
Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield watched from a suite and got the crowd going with a pre-recorded “Let’s Go Tribe” chant on the video board that was shown midway through the game. The fans later chanted Mayfield’s name.
Jake Bauers’ two-run single with the bases loaded was the key hit in the third when Cleveland scored three times. Carlos Santana, Hanley Ramirez and Roberto Perez also drove in runs.
Jose Ramirez had two hits and stole three bases. He came into the game batting .136.
Thomas Pannone (0-2) allowed four runs in 2 2/3 innings, though he also struck out six.
The Indians have won three straight and are 4-1 on their opening homestand.
Another big cheer went up when a fan ran onto the field and delayed the game in the seventh inning. The fan slowly jogged across the field and was approached by security guards near the left field line. The fan put on a move but fell to the ground and was escorted away.
Toronto has been held to two runs or fewer in seven of 10 games this season, including all three in this series against Cleveland. Trevor Bauer pitched seven hitless innings Thursday and Shane Bieber allowed two runs in six innings Friday.
Santana, whose ninth-inning home run gave Cleveland a 3-2 win Friday, had an RBI single in the first.
Rookie shortstop Eric Stamets doubled leading off the third for his first major league hit. He was 0 for 16 to begin his career. Hanley Ramirez drew a bases-loaded walk and Bauers followed with a single.
Blue Jays: 1B Justin Smoak returned after being a late scratch from the lineup Thursday and Friday. He had a first-inning double in five at-bats.
Indians: SS Francisco Lindor continues to do rehab work on his injuries (strained right calf/sprained left ankle). “He’s getting a little friskier every day, which is good,” Francona said. No specific date has been given for Lindor’s return.
The Blue Jays are 3-7 and have struck out 95 times this season.
“The positive side is we swung the bats a little bit better, but we’re still striking out way too much,” manager Charlie Montoyo said. “Our batters are frustrated, but our team is fine.”
Blue Jays RHP Marcus Stroman (0-1, 1.42 ERA) takes the mound in the four-game series finale. Indians RHP Mike Clevinger (0-0, 0.00 ERA) struck out a career-high 12 over seven innings in a no-decision against the Chicago White Sox on April 1.