Carmona looks to win his sixth straight start as the Indians open a three-game series against the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday night at Kauffman Stadium.
Carmona struggled as a starter last season, going 1-4 with a 6.08 ERA, prompting the Indians to try him as their closer. The experiment didn’t last very long, as the right-hander blew his first three save opportunities.
In need of a starter because of injuries to Cliff Lee and Jake Westbrook earlier this season, the Indians turned to Carmona (5-1, 2.55 ERA), who has been outstanding in six starts since struggling in his season debut.
“Sometimes things happen for a reason,” Indians catcher Victor Martinez said. “He’s living the other side of it now.”
Carmona had the best performance of his career Thursday in a 2-0 victory over Minnesota, throwing a four-hitter for his first shutout. He walked two, struck out four and threw 121 pitches en route to beating two-time Cy Young winner Johan Santana for the second time in less than a month.
Carmona is 5-0 with a 1.38 ERA in his last five starts and hasn’t allowed a run in 15 innings. He is trying to become the first Indians pitcher to win six consecutive starts since C.C. Sabathia reeled off seven straight wins from Aug. 5-Sept. 7, 2005.
“That dude is filthy,” Minnesota’s Torii Hunter said. “We’ve been struggling, but even if we had been playing good, we wouldn’t have beaten him. If you’ve never played the game, listen to me, I’m a hitter. Right-handers have no chance unless they get lucky and get a hit on a broken bat.”
Cleveland, which improved to a major league-best 17-4 at home, has won six of seven overall.
Jhonny Peralta had two hits Monday and is batting .429 (12-of-28) with three homers, seven runs scored and seven RBIs in his last seven games.
Because Monday’s game was made up on an originally scheduled off day, the Indians will play 20 straight days as a result.
Manager Eric Wedge said he doesn’t view the long stretch as any more of a test.
“We’re playing everybody,” he said on the Indians’ official Web site. “Everybody (on the bench) is getting into the action. We’ve already had multiple tests, and we’re going to have many more. We’ll break it down from series to series, and we won’t go further than that.”
Although they remain last in the AL Central, the Royals (17-28) enter this series with momentum after winning six of 10 on a road trip through Chicago, Oakland and Colorado.
“I’m not surprised by the way we’ve played on this road trip, I’m disappointed by the way we started the season,” right fielder Mark Teahen said.
Now the Royals have to translate their recent road success to home, where they have lost five of six and are a major league-worst 7-14.
Odalis Perez (2-4, 5.29) looks to continue his strong pitching for Kansas City. The left-hander has been very good in his last two starts, allowing only two runs and six hits in 13 innings. Perez, winless in his last four outings, took a no-hitter into the sixth inning Wednesday at Oakland, finishing with one hit allowed in six scoreless innings.
“I’m just happy to be pitching the way I’m pitching,” Perez said. “I feel good. I feel happy. I feel healthy. I’m happy with the opportunity I’m getting here. These guys believe in me.”
Perez is 1-0 with a 3.32 ERA in three career starts against Cleveland.
The Indians have won nine of their last 12 games against the Royals.