CLEVELAND — Alex Rodriguez is already in the midst of one of the worst postseason slumps in the history of the game. So the last thing the Yankees third baseman needed to see Friday night was Cleveland fireballer Fausto Carmona.
“I’ve never had success against that guy,” Rodriguez said. “He’s had the best of me in the postseason, he’s got the best of me during the regular season and even in spring training he owned me.”
Rodriguez went 0-for-4 against Carmona during the Indians’ 2-1 Game 2 victory Friday, including three strikeouts. Rodriguez, the odds-on favorite to win the American League MVP, has struck out eight times in the last nine appearances against Carmona. The tough night added to his overall postseason woes — he is
3-for-35 (.086) in the playoffs since joining the Yankees in 2005.
“I think it was a combo of being a little impatient and Carmona having some pretty good stuff,” Rodriguez said. “Me personally, I have to stop swinging at bad pitches and start getting to first base.”
A-Rod wasn’t alone this time when it came to being dominated by the Cleveland right-hander. Carmona allowed just three hits in nine innings of work, keeping the Indians in the game until the bullpen took over and designated hitter Travis Hafner eventually hit a bases-loaded single to win the game in the 11th inning.
“Going back through the whole year, the way I’ve been pitching, I was thinking when I was on the mound like it was just another game,” Carmona said. “I didn’t put any pressure like it was a playoff. I just continued pitching the way I had been pitching the whole year.
“That’s the way I found out I was calm on the mound.”
That’s also the way the Yankees found out that Carmona was unstoppable on the mound.
Carmona, making his first postseason start, became the first Cleveland pitcher to last nine innings since Bartolo Colon did it against the Yankees in Game 3 of the 1998 ALCS. The last time Cleveland pitching allowed only three hits was on Oct. 21, 1995, when Orel Hershiser, Paul Assenmacher, Julian Tavarez and Alan Embree combined to accomplish the feat in Game 1 of the World Series.
“It was unbelievable, that’s about the only way you can put it,” Hafner said. “Against that lineup to go nine innings and give up one run, it’s an amazing job on his part. He’s a really tough kid, a great competitor and I’m really happy for him.
“He threw a heck of a game tonight.”
Carmona’s one mistake came in the third inning, when Melky Cabrera hit a solo home run into the New York bullpen. Other than that, Carmona allowed just singles to Derek Jeter and Bobby Abreu.
“Carmona was terrific,” Yankees manager Joe Torre said. “His pitch count was great early on and he just commanded everything. He left a breaking ball up to Melky and he hit the home run. But that’s really all the threatening we did.
“We just were shut down.”
One of the most impressive moments of Carmona’s stellar postseason debut was in the bottom of the eighth, after the Indians had tied the game at 1, when the 19-game winner enduced three groundball outs to set the Yankees down in order. The feat came shortly after Yankees reliever Joba Chamberlain, one of the most stalwart relievers in baseball, had a meltdown to surrender a run despite the Indians not getting a hit.
“I knew there were a lot off flies out there,” Carmona said of the bugs that swarmed the pitcher’s mound. “But I was trying to stay focused and hit them in front of me. I was not going to allow nothing or nobody to distract me.”
Carmona came out again in the ninth, surrended the single to Abreu, but got out of the inning by striking out Rodriguez for the third time.
“It just happened that I made good pitches to A-Rod,” Carmona said. “I didn’t leave anything over the plate that he could drive the ball. I just tried to pitch him the same way as everybody else.”
Contact Shaun Bennett at 329-7137 or firstname.lastname@example.org.