Guardians go for sweep of struggling Rangers

Veteran right-hander Carlos Carrasco will take the mound Wednesday night as the American League Central-leading Cleveland Guardians go for a three-game series sweep of the reigning World Series champion Texas Rangers in Arlington, Texas.

The 37-year-old Carrasco (2-3, 5.36 ERA), who earned the fifth starting spot for the Guardians in spring training after signing a minor league contract on Feb. 1, has allowed just four earned runs over a combined 13 innings in his past two starts. That has garnered him the praise of manager Stephen Vogt.

“The last few times out he’s been outstanding,” Vogt said. “It just seems like he’s continuing to get better and better. We’re really, really encouraged by Cookie.”

Carrasco is 4-3 with a 5.63 ERA in 11 career games (nine starts) against Texas. He comes in off a 6-3 loss to the White Sox in Chicago on Thursday after allowing five runs (three earned) on six hits over seven innings. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out five.

Some defensive lapses early in the game resulted in two unearned runs for the White Sox, who also got back-to-back solo home runs in the seventh inning from Korey Lee and Paul DeJong. That was more than enough offense for Chicago starter Garrett Crochet, who pitched six shutout innings while striking out a career-high 11 batters.

“Cookie was unbelievably outstanding tonight,” Vogt said afterward of Carrasco. “Exactly what we needed, seven great innings. We didn’t help ourselves early in the game, and his only mistakes came in the seventh. He was great. We just didn’t get enough runs off Crochet.”

Runs haven’t been a problem in the first two games of the series for Cleveland, which won the opener on Monday, 7-0. That was followed by a 7-4 victory on Tuesday with Josh Naylor hitting a three-run homer and brother Bo Naylor adding a two-run double to highlight a six-run second inning.

“Bo with the huge double and then obviously Josh with the exclamation point,” Vogt said. “Great at-bats up-and-down (the lineup) the first couple of innings, and that’s what really set the tone for game.”

Texas will be trying to snap a season-high five-game losing streak in the series finale.

Right-hander Jon Gray (1-1, 2.36 ERA), who is 0-2 with a 5.49 ERA in four career starts against Cleveland, gets the start for Texas.

The Rangers are just 10-11 at home this season.

One positive to come out of Tuesday’s loss for Texas was that an offense that had managed to score just six runs in its previous four games combined started to show some life.

Adolis Garcia, who had just one extra-base hit in his 14 previous games, homered and doubled and scored twice. Corey Seager and Nathaniel Lowe also homered for the Rangers, who cut the early 6-0 deficit to 6-4 in the eighth on a Josh Smith RBI single. Texas also had the tying runs on base before Scott Barlow got out of the jam by striking out Ezequiel Duran.

Emmanuel Clase pitched a scoreless ninth to pick up his 12th save.

“I think throughout the lineup we had better at-bats,” Texas manager Bruce Bochy said. “That’s always a good sign. It’s a good sign the way they kept battling back. Got down with a pretty good deficit but they kept going. That’s who we are. Good things will happen if we keep doing that.”

–Field Level Media