CLEVELAND — Carlos Carrasco made a triumphant return.
Activated from the disabled list prior to the series opener against Oakland on Friday night, the right-hander had a hand in a 10-4 victory over the A’s in front of a sellout crowd at Progressive Field.
In his first start since June 16, Carrasco allowed three runs on seven hits while striking out seven over 51⁄3 innings as Cleveland rolled to its fifth straight victory and eighth straight win at home.
Things began dubiously for Carrasco, who allowed a home run to Dustin Fowler on his fourth pitch and another leadoff homer to Matt Olson in the second inning.
But he settled in after that, retiring six straight and allowing just one more run on a base hit to Fowler in the fifth.
“Early on, a couple fastballs got hit, but he kept it in check,” manager Terry Francona said. “He really found his breaking ball. There was a couple innings there where he threw six, seven, eight in a row, but they were so good.”
“He settled down, he started making pitches, started attacking guys and throwing that curveball for a strike,” shortstop Francisco Lindor said. “He’s one of the best. He’s very successful when he’s doing those things and we’ve got his back.”
Carrasco said it was business as usual, with one hitch.
“The only thing that felt different today was just fastball command,” he said. “I threw more of my curveball, then slider, change-up. (They were) working more. I just tried commanding my fastball the whole game, but I couldn’t. I don’t really feel I hit one spot with the fastball, but in the end, we won. That’s what we need.”
A’s starter Paul Blackburn shut out the Indians on three hits over 61⁄3 innings of a 3-1 victory in Oakland in his previous start, but it was a much different story for the right-hander this time around.
Blackburn was gone after the first two reached in the fifth inning, allowing six runs on seven hits.
“Last time, hat’s off to him,” Lindor said. “This time we made the adjustments and came up with a victory.”
“When we got around the second time through, guys could see the ball a little better and we did a good job offensively,” Francona said.
Cleveland’s offensive production came almost exclusively from the top four in the order — Lindor, Michael Brantley, Jose Ramirez and Edwin Encarnacion, who combined for eight of the team’s 10 hits, seven of nine RBIs and nine runs.
Lindor scored three times and Ramirez and Encarnacion each drove in three runs. Lindor and Ramirez also pulled off a double steal in Cleveland’s four-run seventh inning, with Lindor beating the throw from second base on a headfirst slide at the plate.
Encarnacion became the third American League player to reach 60 RBIs, while Lindor recorded his league-leading 36th multihit game.
Lindor is the first shortstop in major league history to score 75 runs and collect 50 extra-base hits before the All-Star break, and he and Ramirez are the first pair of teammates in franchise history to reach 50 extra-base hits apiece in the first half. It’s the fifth time it’s happened in the majors and first since Boston’s David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez in 2004.
With nine games left before the break, Lindor, Ramirez and Encarnacion have already combined for 175 RBIs, accounting for the most by a Cleveland trio since Victor Martinez, Travis Hafner and Jhonny Peralta matched the total in 2007.
The Indians have been on a roll at the plate, scoring 103 runs over their last 16 games for an average of 6.4.
The crowd of 34,633 fans accounted for the Indians’ third sellout of the season and second in the last three games at Progressive Field.
There were moments when the crowd was at a postseason-level pitch.
“It felt great, especially after a long (nine-game road) trip,” Encarnacion said. “Coming back home and getting the support is good. I feel very proud of the fans.”