CLEVELAND -- As men in both dugouts watched with amusement, Indians utility player Ryan Raburn entered in the ninth inning of Thursday's game not to man right field or second base, but to pitch.
Despite the giggles, Raburn was all business on the mound. He retired the side in order, covering first base on a grounder to Nick Swisher and even striking out Matt Tuiasosopo with an 89-mph heater.
"I was about as nervous as my first Major League at-bat," Raburn said. "I was just hoping I threw it somewhat near the plate."
Raburn, who pitched in high school and college, had a feeling that Tribe manager Terry Francona might send him to the hill, considering the 12 innings Cleveland's relievers already pitched Wednesday and Thursday.
In the same week his contract extension with the Tribe was announced, Raburn made his first professional pitching appearance.
"I told my agent we have to renegotiate now because I'm a two-way player," Raburn said.
With his performance, Raburn became the first position player to pitch for Cleveland since Andy Marte showed off his windup against the Yankees on July 29, 2010. Marte struck out Swisher in that outing.
The fact that Raburn's moment on the hill came against Detroit, the team he spent the first seven years of his career with, made it even better.
"He told me he could hit 90 whenever I pitched [in 2011]," Tigers outfielder Don Kelly said. "I didn't see a nine up there."
Well, maybe not at the beginning of Raburn's radar readings, but Tuiasosopo will surely remember the fastball he swung through. After facing the bottom third of Detroit's lineup, Raburn joked about going up against the top of it, perhaps even staring down the ever-imposing Miguel Cabrera.
"I told Miggy I wanted to face him," Raburn said. "Maybe next time, if I get a chance, I'll try to strike him out."
As the Tigers were wrapping up their four-game sweep at Progressive Field, Raburn's pitching provided some comic relief for the Indians, and Francona had no problem with that.
"We got beat around a little bit and it's not very much fun," Francona said, "so the guys had something to kind of latch onto, and that's OK."
Carrasco gets call, throws five scoreless in relief
CLEVELAND -- In his first career Major League relief appearance, Carlos Carrasco showed why he could be such an effective starter.
The Indians recalled Carrasco from Triple-A Columbus before its series opener Friday against the Angels to provide long relief for a bullpen that was used often during the previous Detroit series. To make room, Cleveland optioned reliever Preston Guilmet, who gave up four runs in 2 2/3 innings Thursday, to the Clippers.
Carrasco entered in the fifth inning of Friday's 5-2 loss with the Indians trailing by three runs. He threw the final five innings and kept the Angels to just one hit, walking three and striking out four.
"It should [help his confidence]. He was very good," manager Terry Francona said. "It was good for our whole team's confidence. Any time you see somebody go out there and do what he did, that's terrific."
The right-handed Carrasco had been mostly unproductive across several stints with the Tribe this season. In six Major League starts this season before Friday, he was 0-4 with a 9.10 ERA.
Carrasco, 26, lowered his ERA on the season to 7.75 with his performance against Los Angeles.
"We've seen him throw some pretty good games," Francona said. "It's in there. I think it's more just pitching the way he pitches, finding that consistency. He's going to have a ton of success."
The move to promote Carrasco came after Cleveland's bullpen was forced to throw 13 innings between losses on Wednesday and Thursday, including a frame from utility player Ryan Raburn. Francona turned to Carrasco on Friday not long after starter Scott Kazmir's five-run, three-plus-innings outing came to an end. Matt Albers threw an inning between Kazmir and Carrasco.
Francona said afterward that the club would search for ways to give Kazmir extra rest in the future, as the left-hander is feeling fatigue late in the season. He also said that Carrasco will remain with the team, providing for the possibility that he would start in Kazmir's place Wednesday in Minnesota.
Though Carrasco had struggled with Cleveland this year, Francona said before the game that he believes the pitcher has the ability to become a solid starter. In 16 games (14 starts) with Columbus, Carrasco went 3-1 with a 3.14 ERA. Over 71 2/3 innings, he had 79 strikeouts against 21 walks, with a .221 average against.
"He has the arm to do probably anything, just because his stuff is so electric," Francona said before Friday's loss. "It's just a matter of harnessing it at this level. I would never want to pull away from him as a starter. There's just too much to like."
Giambi's presence means plenty in upbeat meeting
CLEVELAND -- Maybe the division race is over. Either way, the season certainly isn't.
After dropping four straight to Detroit earlier this week, the Indians entered Friday with a 62-53 record, seven games back in the American League Central, but just three games out of a Wild Card spot. With 47 games still to play, including 29 against teams with sub-.500 records, the Tribe has plenty of time for a playoff push.
The Indians seem aware of that fact. After a team meeting following Thursday's loss, there were plenty of players in the home clubhouse, which wasn't nearly as joyless as one might expect.
"I like when G runs a meeting," Cleveland manager Terry Francona said, referring to veteran designated hitter Jason Giambi. "The more G talks to our players, to me, to the staff, the better everybody is. I was thrilled. Man, when you have a guy that special around, to not use it would be a serious waste of talent. And I don't mean just in the batter's box. I mean in the clubhouse, his presence. I'm very grateful for him."
Francona, who has preached a one-day-at-a-time philosophy since he started, is happy that his players are remaining positive.
"They should be. They really should be," he said. "We got beat around. It wasn't very much fun. But we're in the middle of August, and because of what our record is, we've earned the right to show up every day, and every game is so meaningful. That's why they hurt so much when you lose. But it's a lot of fun to come to the ballpark when every game [matters]."
• The struggling Asdrubal Cabrera had a big night Thursday, when he went 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI doubles. He had two hits in a game for the first time since July 30, two RBIs for the first time since July 24 and two doubles for the first time since May 22.
"For us to get where we want, we certainly need him to be right in the middle of it," Francona said of his current cleanup hitter. "With his switch-hitting ability, his baseball acumen ... it's good when he's in the middle of stuff."
• Bryson Myles, an outfielder with Class A Advanced Carolina, is riding a 20-game hitting streak. It's the second-longest streak in the Carolina League this season and 10th longest mark across the Minor Leagues. Myles' batting average has risen from .242 to .295 during the stretch, which began on July 15.
• The Indians will honor the 200 members of the Cleveland chapter of Our Children Making Change during Sunday's series finale against the Angels. The 200 area youth raised $20,000 for four charities: Autism Speaks, Juvenile Diabetes, Fiona's Friends (to assist a young girl undergoing a liver transplant) and West Side Catholic Charities. The kids will present the money raised Sunday at Progressive Field and are invited to stay for the game.
Mark Emery is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.