DETROIT -- There will be better days for Carlos Carrasco. That's what he and the Indians are banking on, anyway. For now, Carrasco will live with a clunker of a Major League debut. He gave up his first six big league runs in a hurry, and that set the Tribe down the path of an 8-5 loss to the Tigers in the opener of a three-game series at Comerica Park.
It was a shanked tee shot, but give the 22-year-old Carrasco, one of four acquisitions in the July trade that sent Cliff Lee and Ben Francisco to the Phillies, a mulligan. "The way I look at it, the first one, you get it out of the way," Cleveland manager Eric Wedge said. "Let him feel it and get into his routine, then you can go to work after that." Carrasco will go back to work Monday, when he faces the Rangers in his second start. And when he takes the mound for that Labor Day affair, he hopes to have learned some lessons from a debut in which he coughed up six runs on nine hits with three walks, three strikeouts and three home runs in three innings. The first step will be to not try to throw the ball 100 mph. Carrasco fell victim to the dreaded temptation to overthrow in the first inning, and the Tigers jumped all over him for four runs, including back-to-back homers from Placido Polanco and Carlos Guillen. Gerald Laird nearly went deep later in the inning, but the fly ball off his bat struck the top of the wall, mere inches from clearing it, so he had to settle for an RBI double that capped the outburst. "It's my first time, and the first inning I felt a little bit nervous," said Carrasco, who needed 33 pitches to get through the opening frame. "My fastball was up a little bit." Carrasco and the Indians had been up, 1-0, after Shin-Soo Choo's RBI single off Edwin Jackson in the top of the first, but they never led again. The Tigers made it 4-1 with that big opening inning and didn't look back. Though Carrasco tamed the Tigers in a scoreless second, they ripped into him again in the third. Aubrey Huff's one-out walk set up Brandon Inge's two-run blast to left on a 1-1 fastball that made it 6-1. Carrasco got the next two outs, but that was his last inning of work. Carrasco is going to be counted on as a potential rotation option for the Tribe in 2010 and beyond. With rosters expanded, he was promoted for the September home stretch, by virtue of his 5-1 record and 3.19 ERA in six starts for Triple-A Columbus after the trade. He said he was excited to join the organization. "When I got traded, I felt comfortable," Carrasco said. "This is my opportunity to play in the big leagues." Outfielder Michael Brantley also got that opportunity on this night, and his debut was a little more promising. Though Brantley grounded into a double play in the second inning during his first at-bat, he singled and scored a run as part of a three-run rally off Jackson in the fifth. "I wanted to not smile too big and show too much emotion," Brantley said. "But inside, I was so excited." Alas, the Tribe's little rally turned out to be nothing to get too excited about. By the start of the fifth, the Indians were down, 8-1, after long man Tomo Ohka gave up a two-run double to Huff in the fourth. And while Grady Sizemore's two-run double in the fifth and ensuing run scored on a Guillen fielding error made it an 8-4 game, those runs would eventually fall in the too little, too late category. Likewise for Andy Marte's solo shot off Zach Miner in the sixth -- the surging Marte's fourth homer in seven games. "We worked ourselves back in the game," Wedge said, "but we could have done a lot more than that. We had first and third and nobody out [in the third, when Choo struck out and Jhonny Peralta grounded into a double play] and did nothing with it. We had [Jackson] on the ropes. We should have done more than we did." Neither manager walked out happy. "I didn't like the smell of that game at all," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "[The Indians] were very aggressive. They're very dangerous, and I told you they would be." Yes, but the damage done on Carrasco was enough to sink the Tribe. Still, it did nothing to affect the confidence of the rookie right-hander, who still was able to smile about making his first Major League start, regardless of the result. "I was impressed with his composure," Wedge said. "I didn't feel he let anything get to him." And Carrasco will go into his next start wiser from the experience. "Next time," he said, "I need to calm down and relax."
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.