First inning aside, Mets' Carrasco 'lights out' vs. Giants

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Carlos Carrasco up close
Carlos Carrasco up close

Whether or not a pennant race is ultimately on the horizon for the Mets, a nice sign of late has been the much-improved pitching of Carlos Carrasco.

On Thursday night, in a second straight 3-2 loss to the Giants, Carrasco was his best self since returning to the rotation late last month from a torn right hamstring.

He pitched seven innings -- a season-high -- while allowing only three hits and two earned runs with five strikeouts and no walks.

"That’s the Carlos Carrasco we know and expect to show every time he gets the ball," said Luis Rojas.

Carrasco's only real blemish came in the first inning, when he allowed a leadoff single then a two-run homer to Kris Bryant. Other than that, he was nearly perfect.

Over his last two starts, he's allowed five earned over 11 innings, three of which have come in the first.

"I'm trying to figure out what’s going on there," he said of his first-inning woes.

With improved starts over his last two outings, his ERA has gone from 10.32 to a slightly less gaudy 6.94.

"It was more control in my fastball, breaking ball. Everything," Carrasco said. "You can only see me every five days, but every four days (in between) I’ve been been working hard."

Carrasco's fastball was up to 96 on Thursday, and his slider was consistently at 90 MPH, both improvements from earlier in this abbreviated 2021 season.

"He was lights out tonight. He showed up," Rojas said. "To have Cookie like that every five days gives us a chance to win games."