The Cleveland Indians hope to receive an emotional lift on Sunday afternoon when they play the rubber match of their three-game series against the visiting Kansas City Royals.
Cleveland right-hander Carlos Carrasco will make his first start since May 30, 2019. The 33-year-old was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia in June and missed three months of the season before returning as a reliever in September.
Carrasco showed signs of his former self during an exhibition against his own teammates on Tuesday. His first pitch was clocked at 94 mph, setting the tone for an effective four-inning performance in which he struck out four batters.
“I liked the way I felt,” Carrasco told reporters. “My (velocity) came back. I was frustrated after my last start. I was 88 to 91 mph. My first pitch (on Tuesday) was 94 point something. Usually spring training is six weeks, but I feel pretty comfortable right with my fastball, curveball and slider. I’m ready to start the season.”
Carrasco was ravaged for six runs on as many hits in two-thirds of an inning in his lone start versus Kansas City last season. He does own an 11-7 record with a 3.90 ERA in 25 career appearances (20 starts) against the Royals; however, Whit Merrifield (8-for-18) has fared well versus the hurler.
Salvador Perez answered Jorge Soler’s solo homer with one of his own as they went back-to-back in the first inning of Saturday’s 3-2 victory in 10 innings. Perez, however, is just 6-for-27 versus Carrasco, and he’s been held in the park in his career by the hurler.
That said, Royals manager Mike Matheny readily vouched for the catcher’s power at the plate — and his ability behind it.
“He puts a ball out in the stands about as far as a man can hit a ball,” Matheny said of Perez. “And then he comes behind the plate and he’s got life and energy and the guys have so much confidence in him.”
Cleveland’s offense barely has made an impact in the first two games of the season. The Indians, who have mustered just nine hits in two contests, scratched for a pair of runs in the fifth inning of Friday’s 2-0 victory and tallied twice in the third the following day.
“For my part, I definitely have to make an adjustment. I probably swung at five strikes in nine at-bats,” said four-time All-Star Francisco Lindor, who is 1-for-9 with three strikeouts on the young season.
“It’s on me. We shouldn’t have lost this game (on Saturday), we had plenty of opportunities and people on base and I didn’t come through. I put a lot of this loss on me.”
Lindor and company will attempt to secure a series win on Sunday against what Matheny told MLB.com would be a bullpen game.
Left-hander Mike Montgomery tentatively is scheduled to begin with starters Brad Keller and Jacob Junis on the injured list.
Montgomery posted a 3-9 record with a 4.95 ERA in 33 appearances last season with the Chicago Cubs and Royals. The 31-year-old sported a 2-7 mark with a 4.64 ERA in 13 starts with Kansas City.
Montgomery is 0-1 with a 7.16 ERA in seven career appearances (two starts) versus Cleveland.
–Field Level Media