BOSTON -- The Indians are limping to the finish line, and Carlos Carrasco is doing so quite literally. Carrasco, struck by a line drive to the left leg, limped out of Fenway Park after taking the defeat in Thursday night's 3-0 loss to the Red Sox in the opener of the 2009 season's final series. The line drive came off the bat of Jacoby Ellsbury and rolled into the outfield for one of the nine base hits allowed by Carrasco in 3 1/3 innings of work. He was tagged for three runs, and that was enough to saddle him with the loss on a night in which the Tribe's bats fell flat against left-hander Jon Lester.
While the lined shot knocked Carrasco out of the game and ended his season a few innings earlier than anticipated, it struck him in the quadriceps, not the knee. So he'll be fine. "I feel a lot better now," Carrasco said through an interpreter after the game. "It's just a bad bruise. I was lucky the ball didn't hit me on the knee." Any luck has been rare for the Tribe this season, and particularly in a final stretch that has now seen the club lose 12 consecutive road games. That ties a franchise record previously reached in 1963 and 1991. Neither team had much on the line in this game. The Red Sox have already clinched a Wild Card berth in the postseason, and the Indians have already sealed the fate of manager Eric Wedge and his coaches. But Wedge, seeing this dismal season through to the finish line, hopes his young players benefit from this environment. "With the kids we have here," Wedge said, "being in this atmosphere and playing a team like this is good for them." Trouble was, Lester's final tuneup before the playoffs had him looking October-ready. He worked 6 1/3 scoreless innings, holding the Tribe to two hits with a walk and seven strikeouts. "He did a real good job with his fastball," Wedge said. "And he had his cutter working." The Red Sox made Carrasco work from the get-go, manufacturing a run in the first. In the third, Victor Martinez, playing against the Tribe for the first time since his July 31 trade to Boston, smacked a double and moved to third on Kevin Youkilis' single. That set up consecutive RBI singles from David Ortiz and Jason Bay. Carrasco looked to be in trouble again in the fourth, when he gave up consecutive one-out singles to Alex Gonzalez and Ellsbury, but the latter of those was the shot that knocked him out of the game. "He was picking at it a bit," Wedge said of Carrasco's outing. "I'd like to see him be more aggressive, especially with his fastball." That's been the knock on Carrasco for much of his professional career. And his Major League career, to this point, has been underwhelming, as he finished 0-4 with an 8.87 ERA in five starts for the Tribe. "I'm not sure what we have in him yet," Wedge said. "But his stuff's real, and he's a good kid. He doesn't seem to get rattled. I like that. He just needs to pitch up here to get an idea of what he needs to do to be successful." Carrasco said he believes he can compete for a rotation spot next year. "I feel I showed them sometimes I give up two, three or four runs in an inning, but the next inning I can put up a zero," Carrasco said. "I don't let it bother me the whole game. I showed some flashes where I can be a candidate." When Carrasco got knocked out, reliever Jensen Lewis came on in a pinch and walked a batter to load the bases for Martinez. "I didn't think I'd be facing Victor for the first time with the bases loaded and one out," Lewis said. Lewis, though, handled his first such emergency-relief appearance well, getting Martinez to fly out and striking out Youkilis to end the inning. He also worked a scoreless fifth. But with no run support to speak of, the solid efforts the Indians received from Lewis, Rafael Perez and Jose Veras didn't add up to much. In the seventh, the Tribe had a chance to strike when Lester walked the last batter he faced with one out. Reliever Daniel Bard gave up a double to Matt LaPorta and plunked pinch-hitter Shin-Soo Choo with a pitch. But Andy Marte grounded into a double play to end the threat and effectively end the game. So it was for an Indians team limping along with a lame-duck coaching staff at the helm. "I just want us to finish playing the best baseball we can play," Wedge said. "We're throwing a lot of young kids out there. Every day, you have a chance to get better."
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.