Oakland Athletics vs. Cleveland Guardians Pick & Prediction MARCH 31st 2024

Right-hander Carlos Carrasco hopes he hasn’t forgotten his winning ways with the Cleveland Guardians when he begins his second stint with the club Sunday afternoon against the host Oakland Athletics.

The Guardians have dominated the A’s in every facet during the first three games of the season, outscoring the hosts 26-7. They are 3-0 for the first time since 2017.

The Cleveland bullpen has been near-perfect in the three wins, with eight pitchers combining to allow just one run on two hits over 12 innings, with 14 strikeouts.

Carrasco has watched as his new teammates have banged out 35 hits in the three wins. Eleven different players have recorded at least one hit for the Guardians.

The 37-year-old Carrasco, who debuted with Cleveland in 2009, went 88-73 with a 3.77 ERA in 11 seasons before getting packaged with Francisco Lindor in a trade with the New York Mets in 2021 that produced, among others, current Guardians infielder Andres Gimenez.

Carrasco pitched well for the Mets in 2022, going 15-7 with a 3.97 ERA. Unfortunately for him, that sandwiched disastrous campaigns in which he went 1-5 with a 6.04 ERA in 2021 and 3-8 with a 6.80 ERA last year in 20 starts.

Carrasco returned to the Guardians as a non-guaranteed free agent in February. He not only earned a spot on the Opening Day roster but also pitched his way into the season-opening rotation by going 1-0 with a 2.57 ERA in five games during spring training.

Now, Carrasco hopes to be a leader both on and off the field.

“I know I’m 37, but I don’t feel that way,” Carrasco said last week. “There were a lot of guys in here that I learned (from), and now that I’m in the same spot right with a lot of young guys in there, I just want to help. I just want them to see that I’m still working no matter if you have one year or 14 years in the big leagues or 20 or 37 years old. I just want them to see the way I work so they can do all the same things, too. That’s what I learned when I was here in 2009.”

Carrasco has faced the A’s nine times in his career, eight times as a starter, going 4-2 with a 3.18 ERA.

Hoping to get a starting pitcher into the sixth inning for the first time this season, the A’s will counter with right-hander Paul Blackburn (4-7, 4.43 ERA in 2023). He pitched brilliantly in the spring, going 4-0 with a 2.04 ERA in four starts.

Blackburn, 30, has gone 1-1 with a 3.68 ERA in five career starts against the Guardians.

Among other issues, A’s manager Mark Kotsay watched Saturday as the visitors stole six bases in as many tries against debuting catcher Kyle McCann. It wasn’t necessarily the rookie’s fault, Kotsay said.

“Our times to the plate were bad; they didn’t give Kyle an opportunity to throw anybody out,” Kotsay observed. “Obviously they ran on us all day, and we’ve got to address that. This team is athletic; they’ve got speed. They’re going to take advantage of that when they see the opportunity. Slow times to the plate are that opportunity.”

–Field Level Media

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