Fausto bounces back, leads way as Indians sweep
CLEVELAND — Fausto Carmona returned to normal Monday and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays remained the same.
That was more than enough for the Indians to secure a 10-2 victory and a four-game sweep of hapless Tampa Bay, which dropped its eighth straight and 11th in 13 games.
Carmona dealt and the Devil Rays folded, stumbling at the plate and in the field to help make a loser of Ohioan Andy Sonnanstine in his first appearance against the Indians, the team he grew up rooting for.
Tampa Bay managed just four hits, while committing three errors — the bulk of them coming late — to help turn a tightly contested affair into a rout.
“They got everything done this series,” said Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon of the Indians, who won their fifth straight game and seventh in the last eight, beating Tampa Bay at Jacobs Field for the ninth consecutive time. “We blinked and they didn’t.”
Coming off his worst performance of the season against Oakland, in which he allowed eight runs and failed to make it out of the second inning, Carmona was a different man.
The right-hander shut the D-Rays out on two hits through the first six innings before hitting a wall and leaving before retiring a batter in the seventh.
He wound up surrendering two runs on four hits, while striking out a career-high eight.
“Fausto did a good job of getting right back out there,” said Indians manager Eric Wedge, whose team improved to a major league-leading 31-12 at home. “It’s how you respond after (a bad outing). It’s another true indicator of just how tough the young man is.”
Carmona (9-4, 3.78) admitted his last outing was fresh in his mind during this one, and was satisfied that he cleared another hurdle in his maturation process, proving that he could bounce back after a subpar outing.
“I prepared myself,” Carmona said through an interpreter. “I learned from the last time I pitched. I wanted to make sure it didn’t happen again.”
Carmona might want to share his latest win with reliever Rafael Perez, who rode to the rescue with the game on the line in the seventh inning.
Carmona left Perez with the bases loaded and a one-run lead after a Casey Blake error allowed the D-Rays’ first run and Carmona hit pinch hitter Ty Wigginton to force in another.
Continuing the effectiveness that has moved him into the back end of Cleveland’s bullpen, Perez left the bases full and the Indians’ lead intact, retiring the first three batters he faced.
“To come in in that situation and to get out of it without allowing a run is way beyond the call of duty,” Wedge said. “That was really a difference-maker late.”
In addition to his deft pitching, Perez mixed in a fielding gem as well, leaping high off the mound to snag a grounder from Akinori Iwamura and throwing home for the fielder’s choice on the second out of the inning.
“Maybe I should play basketball,” joked Perez.
“It was a reaction play,” Perez later said through an interpreter. “I didn’t think I was going to be able to catch it but I had to try.”
Cleveland mustered just enough offense off Tampa Bay starter Sonnanstine — a Barberton native, who attended Wadsworth High School (2001) and Kent State University — to get him the loss.
With more than 125 family and friends in attendance, including his parents and three sisters, Sonnanstine, a 24-year-old right-hander, limited the Indians to three runs on seven hits through six innings.
He allowed two runs in the second inning and his third in the fourth on a solo homer to Ben Francisco, leaving with a 3-0 deficit, but after retiring eight of the last nine batters he faced.
“Getting to come back to my home area is pretty exciting,” said Sonnanstine, who frequented Jacobs Field while growing up. “It’s a great moment to be able to pitch here.”
Francisco, a walk-off hero in his first career big league start Friday, produced again in his second, going 3-for-3 with his second homer and three RBIs. He is hitting .500 (6-for-12) with two homers and four RBIs in seven games for the Indians this season.
“You’re just out there trying not to hurt the ballclub,” Francisco said. “You can’t expect to go out there and have immediate success, but I’ll take it.”
Cleveland took control of the game with a seven-run eighth — an inning in which the Indians scored all of their runs on three hits, three walks, two errors and a wild pitch.
Grady Sizemore landed the big blow in the eighth, hitting a grand slam for his 14th homer of the season. It was Sizemore’s 500th career hit.
“I wasn’t really thinking about it,” Sizemore said. “It was an interesting way to do it.”
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7137 or email@example.com.
WHO: Cleveland at Detroit
WHERE: Comerica Park, Detroit
PITCHERS: Byrd (7-3, 4.67 ERA) vs. Robertson (4-6, 4.82)
TV/RADIO: SportsTime Ohio; WEOL 930-AM, WTAM 1100-AM
Indians first baseman Ryan Garko makes the scoop on a throw from shortstop to get Tampa Bay’s Akinori Iwamura at first base.