CLEVELAND – Carlos Carrasco was en route to replacing Many Ramirez’s first appearance with the White Sox as the big news coming out of Progressive Field on Wednesday afternoon.
Then Paul Konerko came to the plate in the eighth inning and changed the landscape.
With the Indians leading by a two runs after an impressive season debut from Carrasco, Konerko clouted a three-run home run off reliever Justin Germano to help send Cleveland to a 6-4 loss in the series finale.
The win completed the sweep for Chicago, which rallied late against Cleveland’s bullpen in all three games.
“It was a tough series,” said Indians manager Manny Acta, whose team lost for the fourth straight time and for the ninth time in 12 games. “I hope we learn from it. Our starting pitchers pitched really well for us and we lost it at the back end (of the bullpen).”
Promoted from Triple-A Columbus prior to the game, Carrasco looked like a seasoned veteran, allowing three runs on six hits, while striking out four over 7 1/3 innings.
The right-hander allowed just a run over the first seven innings – a solo homer from Alex Rios three batters into the game – before allowing another solo shot from Alexei Ramirez to lead off Chicago’s decisive four-run eighth inning.
“Carrasco was fantastic,” Acta said. “This is what we envisioned from this kid. He had three plus pitches. It was beautiful to watch. Too bad we couldn’t hold it for him at the end.”
Carrasco, 23, produced much better results than he did in five starts for the Indians last year – 0-4, 8.87 ERA – after being acquired in the Cliff Lee trade with the Phillies at last year’s trading deadline.
“I feel more comfortable,” said Carrasco, who received an ovation from the hometown crowd after walking Juan Pierre and being removed with one out in the eighth. “I worked on my mechanics at Columbus and I have more control of my pitches. It felt like I had been here for a long time.
“Today was a big game for me. I need to do more to impress people here for next year too.”
Germano had accomplished as much since arriving from Columbus, but the right-hander worked his worst outing of the season, walking the first batter he faced before serving up the long ball to Konerko.
“He’s been fantastic,” Acta said of Germano, who didn’t allow an earned run in his first 17 innings for the Indians after being called up from Triple-A, but has allowed three over his last two outings. “He’s been very reliable throwing strikes and he came in and walked the first guy.”
Konerko connected on a 1-1 change-up from Germano, sending it into the home run porch in left field.
“It’s always frustrating when you have an outing like that,” Germano said. “The bottom line is you have to come out of the bullpen and throw strikes. I got behind guys.”
The Indians could have turned to closer Chris Perez for a four-out save, something the right-hander has done on a number of occasions this year. But Acta decided against it.
“If we would have been fighting for a title, maybe,” Acta said. “But I can’t put this kid in jeopardy just for a win with the situation we’re in. We’re in no position to get the closer of the future hurt in a game in September.”
The Indians led 4-1 after scoring twice in four innings off Sox starter Freddy Garcia, who left the game with lower-back stiffness, and two more off reliever Tony Pena in the fifth.
It was a quiet day for Ramirez, who made his debut for the White Sox after being claimed off waivers from the Dodgers on Monday.
Ramirez received a smattering of boos from the sparse crowd during his first at-bat, going 1-for-3 with a bloop single in the seventh. Germano hit him with a pitch after surrendering the homer to Konerko and Ramirez was removed for a pinch runner.
Konerko’s homer was his 14th at Jacobs/Progressive Field, tying Tampa Bay’s Carlos Pena for the second-most long balls by an opponent at the park.
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or firstname.lastname@example.org.