Cleveland’s Carrasco masterful in mowing down Jays
|Toronto Star 01 Jul 2016 at 04:55|
The Blue Jays struck out a season-high 17 times in a 4-1 loss to the Cleveland Indians on Thursday, victims to some state-of-the-art pitching from Carlos Carrasco.
Carrasco accounted for 14 of those strikeouts over 7 1/3 innings, a dominant performance that was an exemple of what pitchers and pitching coaches want the art to look like.
Carrasco commanded a 96 m.p.h. fastball, with movement and location, but also featured tremendous downward movement on his sinker and changeup. It was a devastating combination that left the Jays — who entered the game with a major-league leading 6.94 runs per game over their previous 17 games — overmatched like school boys.
The last time the Jays’ attack struck out that many times was almost two years ago — July 18, 2014 against Texas.
In other words, it doesn’t happen often, so Carrasco, a special pitcher as it is, possessed something extra special Thursday night. And it was a blueprint on a key dynamic for pitchers. While the fastball and fastball location remain big parts of winning battles with batters, Carrasco showed that downward movement is equally important.
Major-league hitters have been striking out in record numbers at times over the past several seasons, and it is a direct reflection of the number of amazing young pitchers who have not only harnessed 95 to 100 m.p.h. pitches but have the batter-killing downward movement on their other pitches.
In Carrasco’s case, it was his sinker and changeup that flattened Jays hitters early in the game. He didn’t strike out a batter in the first two innings, then struck out the side in the third, and two more in the fourth.
Josh Donaldson, one of the majors most intelligent hitters, slammed his 19th homer on the first pitch he saw in the fourth inning, but it was one of just three Toronto hits off Carrasco, who threw 77 of his 113 pitches for strikes.
“You don’t fall on your face, but when a guy is striking out 14 batters, especially against our team, you take notice,” said Jays pitcher RA Dickey, who gave up two solo homers but was mostly impressive over seven innings. Dickey is winless in seven home starts this season.
Carrasco is a study in pitching economy and efficiency; he pitches out of the stretch at all times, and his arm action is the same with his fastball as it is with the sinker and changeup.
He struck out six straight before exiting the game in the eighth inning following a Darwin Barney double, and joined four other visiting pitchers who have struck out 14 in Toronto. Mark Langston holds the record with 16 for the Seattle Mariners in 1988.
The Indians, meanwhile, exited June with a 22-6 record, their best record in any calendar month in their history. And they’ll carry a 13-game winning streak into July, a franchise mark first accomplished in 1942 and matched in 1951.