CLEVELAND — Carlos Carrasco glanced briefly at his right elbow, which no longer shows any signs of bruising.
He’s healthy and the Cleveland Indians seem to be getting better and better.
Carrasco returned from the disabled list — and returned to the win column — as Jose Ramirez and Edwin Encarnacion drove in three runs apiece, leading the Indians to their fifth consecutive victory, 10-4 against the Athletics on Friday night.
Making his first start since getting smacked with a line drive hit by Minnesota’s Joe Mauer on June 16, Carrasco (9-5) shook off two homers measuring over 900 combined feet in the first two innings. The right-hander struck out seven in 5⅓ innings and showed minimal rust despite the layoff.
“He gave up a couple of home runs,” said shortstop Francisco Lindor, who stole home and scored three times. “But, he settled down. He started making pitches. He started attacking guys. Throwing that curveball for a strike. He’s one of the best. He’s very successful when he’s doing those things. I’m glad he’s back.”
The AL Central-leading Indians have won eight straight home games. They improved to an MLB-best 56-21 at Progressive Field since the All-Star break last season.
Matt Olson and Dustin Fowler connected against Carrasco, but A’s couldn’t match Cleveland’s firepower and lost for just the second time in 10 games since June 25.
“They’re a hot-hitting team and when they get on a roll, a lot of good things happen,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “Not only do they hit, they put pressure on you on the bases, as well. That’s why they’re as good as they are.”
Carrasco’s comeback didn’t start ideally as he was quickly in a 2-0 hole.
Fowler connected on his fourth pitch, driving it 467 feet into the lower seats in right for his sixth homer this season and first of his career leading off a game.
Olson opened the second inning with a 438-foot homer into the shrubs in center field, giving him 19 this season and 43 in 157 career games — the fifth-fastest pace in MLB history. Only Rudy York (51), Mark McGwire (49), Gary Sanchez (48) and Ryan Braun (47) have been more prodigious out of the gate than Olson.
But while he struggled to locate his fastball, Carrasco used his curve to keep the A’s off-balance.
Carrasco admitted being a little jittery on a ball hit toward him, but he’s now convinced the time off could help him in the long run.“You don’t want to go to the DL, miss a couple weeks in there, but at the end of the day, it’s going to be worth it,” he said. “From now to the last game of the season, I’m just going to go every five days, take care of myself, then we’ll see in the end.”
Oakland closed to 6-4 in the seventh and had the bases loaded with two out. But Neil Ramirez struck out A’s cleanup hitter Khris Davis to end the threat.