The Indians turn to an emerging arm in their rotation Friday to begin a three-game home series versus the Astros.
Carlos Carrasco makes his third straight start since Cleveland moved him back to the rotation, where he began the season.
In his first two starts since the switch, Carrasco has not allowed a run in 12 innings, notching a pair of victories along the way. He tossed five scoreless frames on Aug. 10 against the Yankees, surrendering just two hits and striking out four. Then, the Orioles could manage only three hits in Carrasco's seven shutout innings Saturday. He walked zero batters in both starts.
Carrasco debuted in the rotation this season, but four rough outings (0-3, 6.95 ERA) necessitated a move to the bullpen. Carrasco worked his ERA down to 3.88 by Aug. 5, and he received another shot at starting when starter Justin Masterson was traded.
Tribe manager Terry Francona credited bullpen coach Kevin Cash for Carrasco's recent success.
"I told Carlos the other day in New York, when he came out of the game, because Carlos was feeling good about himself. And I wanted him to feel good about himself. I remember grabbing him and I said, 'Hey, go say something to Cashy,' because Cashy has been running him up the flag pole for awhile now. He says, 'He's ready, man. He's ready to start,'" Francona said.
The right-hander has not faced Houston as a starter or reliever this season. Carrasco threw one scoreless inning of relief versus the Astros last season.
Cleveland is aiming for its fifth win in seven games and eighth over its last 11. Despite the Indians' recent hot streak, they remain six games behind the Royals in the American League Central and 4 1/2 games behind Detroit for the second Wild Card spot.
Houston comes off an East Coast trip on which it split a four-game set with the Red Sox, then took two of three against the Yankees.
The Astros start the series with a scuffling Brad Peacock on the mound.
Peacock, who's 0-3 with a 10.80 ERA and a 2.35 WHIP in his last five starts, is coming off a no-decision Saturday in the team's 10-7 loss to Boston. He allowed six runs (five earned), seven hits and two walks in 4 1/3 innings.
"His last start, he was trying to locate his offspeed pitches and missed his spot, and damage was done," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "I think the biggest thing with Peacock moving forward is being able to command all his pitches."
Indians: Aviles answering call
Veteran utility man Mike Aviles has had an inconsistent season offensively, but the Indians still appreciate the versatility and leadership he has brought off the bench. Lately, Aviles has helped fill in as a part-time starter at both third base and shortstop for Cleveland, which doesn't hesitate to also use him in the outfield, if needed.
"We've talked about that a ton," Francona said of Aviles' value. "He can play second, third and short. He's played left, right and center. He's hit everywhere probably from first to ninth. He knows how to play the game. Everywhere you put him in the field, he plays it professionally. He can get a bunt down. He can steal a base. He's been really valuable."
Aviles made his 11th start at shortstop this season in his team's 4-1 loss to the Twins on Thursday. He's logged starts at third base (24), second base (19), left field (15) and center field (1) as well.
Astros: Piling up the runs
Entering Thursday, the team that had scored the most runs in the American League since the All-Star break was the Astros, which certainly comes as a surprise.
The Astros had scored 145 runs in that span prior to Thursday, just ahead of the A's (142) and the Royals (139). Overall, the Astros rank 10th in the AL in runs scored. Porter said the recent surge has to do with the resurgence of Chris Carter and the return of Dexter Fowler, who missed 40 games with a right intercostal strain.
"When you look at the season [Jose] Altuve is having, the emergence of Chris Carter and Robbie Grossman, who's been playing well, and getting Dexter Fowler back, all of those components have helped our ballclub," he said.
• Astros closer Chad Qualls, who wasn't available Wednesday and Thursday because of a stiff back, expects to be available to pitch Friday.
• Indians starter Corey Kluber allowed his first home run since July 11 on Thursday.
• Zach Walters earned a start at designated hitter Thursday and launched his second home run in as many games for Cleveland.
Jackson Alexander is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.