Young righty delivers gem, gets 7th win
CLEVELAND — Fausto Carmona may never go back to Buffalo. Not to pitch, not to visit, not for anything.
With performances like Thursday’s and barring any physical mishaps, it’s all but certain Carmona will finish the season in the Indians’ rotation — and out of the minor leagues.
Another gem from the
23-year-old right-hander helped Cleveland push past Kansas City, 8-3, giving the Indians the series win at home, where they have not dropped a series all season (9-0-1).
Carmona allowed just a run on seven hits through seven innings to win for the seventh time against one loss in 11 starts.
The success has been an ongoing theme since Carmona, who failed miserably as the team’s closer last year, joined the Indians from the minors for the second time to fill in for injured starter Jake Westbrook. Carmona lost his season debut while pitching for an injured Cliff Lee on April 13 at Chicago, but hasn’t dropped a decision since.
How does a pitcher go from a season on the brink to performing as one of the American League’s top starters?
“This young man has done a lot of work to be the pitcher that you see today,” said Cleveland manager Eric Wedge. “I don’t think anything happens by accident. It takes a heck of a lot of work.”
Needless to say, Carmona’s work has paid off big-time. He has joined C.C. Sabathia as one of Cleveland’s early All-Star candidates with a 7-1 record and 3.11 ERA.
For his part, Carmona doesn’t want to think about what he’s doing. He just wants to keep doing it.
“I’m not thinking about that,” Carmona said of making the All-Star team. “I’m not thinking about how I’m pitching. I’m just concentrating on my next start.”
Carmona had to be on top of his game, with the Indians struggling against a Kansas City pitcher — again.
Royals starter Odalis Perez entered the game lugging a 3-5 record and hefty 5.74 ERA in 12 starts, but the left-hander allowed just three runs on seven hits through 51/3 innings.
Cleveland scored twice in the fourth on an RBI double from Josh Barfield and a solo home run from Franklin Gutierrez — his second homer in three games — and again in the sixth on a solo shot from Jason Michaels. But the Indians led just 3-1 through seven innings.
“It was obviously a lot tighter game than it ended up being,” Wedge said.
Cleveland broke the game open with a five-run eighth inning, highlighted by a two-run double from Grady Sizemore and a two-run homer from Casey Blake.
It was a memorable blast for Blake, who extended his hitting streak to a career-high 16 games in his final at-bat.
Blake fouled off a number of two-strike pitches before connecting to left on a 3-2 fastball from reliever Zack Greinke.
“That was maybe his best at-bat of the year,” Wedge said. “It just goes to show you that these guys don’t give away at-bats.”
Blake took a moment in the clubhouse after the game to joke about his pursuit of Joe DiMaggio’s record 56-game hitting streak.
“How many more do I need?” he asked. “There’s a lot of people shaking in their boots right now. That record’s going to fall.
“I don’t really give a crap about the streak. I just want to contribute to winning ballgames.”
Kansas City scored twice off Tom Mastny in the ninth inning to produce the final count, with Mastny gloving a liner back to the mound for the final out with a runner on base.
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7137 or email@example.com.