July 30, 2014

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Fausto lights out when lights out-Tribe Notes

CLEVELAND — The difference between Fausto Carmona’s performances in night and day games this season has been, well, like night and day.
With the sun up, which it was Sunday when Carmona got his 11th win of the season in a 5-3 victory over the Royals, the right-hander has been unbeatable, posting an 8-0 record and 1.98 ERA in nine starts.
Carmona’s eight day-game wins are tied with the Cubs’ Carlos Zambrano for the most in the majors
But when the lights are on, Carmona has been merely  mortal, going 3-4 with a below-average 6.00 ERA in the same number of starts.
Though the numbers are too obvious to overlook, the pitcher and his manager, Eric Wedge, still think there is little to them.
“I feel comfortable pitching in day games, but I don’t feel any different than in a night game,” Carmona said through an interpreter. “It’s just happened that way. There’s no difference.”
“There are certain statistics that happen over the course of the year that probably won’t be patterns over a career,” Wedge said. “Sometimes you just can’t explain them.
“I’m just pleased with the way Fausto has pitched all year and how he’s helped us win ballgames.”
Carmona has certainly done that. He is 11-4 with a 3.77 ERA in 18 starts, trailing C.C. Sabathia (12-4, 3.78) by just one in the victory column, while owning a slightly lower ERA than Cleveland’s ace. Sabathia entered Sunday tied for the major league lead with 12 wins.
Kenny comeback?
The Indians may be trying to acquire Kenny Lofton from the Texas Rangers. The Dallas Morning News reported Sunday that Lofton has drawn “significant interest” from the Indians and that Cleveland and Milwaukee had scouts at Saturday’s Rangers game.
Battle Royals
One of the explanations for last-place Kansas City’s success against Cleveland is that the Royals are better hitters against the Indians than they are against the rest of the competition.
KC, a .260 hitting team through Saturday, entered Sunday batting .293 in eight games against the Indians.
The Royals are hitting .265 against the White Sox, .262 against the Twins and .238 against the Tigers — their other Central Division foes.
Mutual admiration
Though Victor Martinez is having a far better season at the plate than Travis Hafner, Martinez said that if he were a pitcher, he would rather face himself.
Hafner was told as much following Sunday’s game.
“I don’t know what his (pitching) repertoire is,” joked Hafner. “(Martinez) is one of the toughest outs in the league in my book.”
Patriotic argument
Royals manager Buddy Bell left the dugout to argue a close play at first with umpire Chad Fairchild following Kansas City’s last out in the seventh inning.
During the argument and the seventh-inning stretch, the music for “God Bless America” began.
The two stopped the squabble, removed their caps and stood at attention before resuming the argument when the song was over.
Next up
The Indians open a three-game series with the Chicago White Sox tonight at 7:05.
Cliff Lee (5-5, 5.23) pitches the first game for Cleveland, opposing left-hander John Danks (5-6, 4.62).
Paul Byrd (7-4, 4.41) and Jake Westbrook (1-4, 6.08) are the scheduled starters Tuesday (7:05) and Wednesday (12:05), while the Sox counter with right-hander Jon Garland (7-6, 3.85) and lefty Mark Buehrle (6-2, 2.98).
Chicago, which is 2-4 against the Indians this season, has won just two series since May 23, both coming against last-place teams in the Royals and Devil Rays.
Minor details
Adam Miller had a rough return to the rotation Saturday, lasting just 22/3 innings and allowing five runs on six hits (one home run) in Triple-A Buffalo’s 12-5 loss to Durham. Miller (4-2, 4.17) had made two relief appearances upon leaving the disabled list with a strained tendon in his right middle finger.
Roundin’ third
Top-shelf setup man Rafael Betancourt allowed just his second homer of the season, a solo shot to Jason Smith in the eighth inning. It was Smith’s first homer and the first Betancourt has allowed since June 26 against Oakland.
l Ryan Garko’s 11th homer of the season to lead off the fourth inning extended his hitting streak to a career-high nine games. Garko and Grady Sizemore have been hit by pitches 11 times apiece, which ranks second in the American League to KC’s Alex Gordon.
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7137 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com.