The Kansas City Royals got to Cleveland’s ace early in Saturday’s win, and they’re no doubt hoping to use the same formula again on Sunday.
The Royals draw another tough starter in Fausto Carmona as they wrap up their three-game series with the Indians at Jacobs Field.
Kansas City (39-51) built a 5-0 lead after three innings against Cleveland’s C.C. Sabathia on Saturday and roughed him up for six runs in seven innings in a 6-5 win. The victory was the third in four games for the Royals, who nonetheless remain mired in last place in the AL Central.
“I think that’s what you have to do against guys like that,” manager Buddy Bell said. “If you can get him early, things are looking pretty good.”
Kansas City, which dropped the series opener 5-4, will need a similar performance at the plate if they hope to earn the series win.
Carmona (10-4, 3.85 ERA) combined with Sabathia, who went 12-3 in the first half, to give the Indians (53-37) two starters with 10 wins before the All-Star break for the first time since 1956, when Bob Lemon and Early Wynn both had 10.
The first half was especially encouraging for Carmona, who was 1-10 with a 5.42 ERA in 38 appearances, including seven starts, for Cleveland last season. He dropped his last 10 decisions.
“I’m happy for Fausto,” manager Eric Wedge said. “He’s really picked us up.”
Carmona has won back-to-back starts for the first time since a five-start winning streak April 24-May 17. He gave up three runs in 5 1-3 innings of a 9-4 win in Toronto on July 7 and has allowed just four earned runs in 11 1-3 innings in his last two outings after being pounded for eight runs in one inning of a 13-7 loss to Oakland on June 27.
“It seems like everything is slowing down,” he said. “I’ll walk around the mound and make sure I throw the right pitch. I’m not rushing on the mound. I’m putting thought before my actions.”
Carmona is 1-0 with a 4.02 ERA in four career appearances - two starts - against the Royals. Both of the starts have come this season, as he has allowed just four runs in 13 innings.
The Indians are in second place in the Central and trail first-place Detroit by one-half game. However, they have dropped five of their last seven games, giving up 41 runs over that span.
Ryan Garko hit a two-run homer in the sixth inning Saturday that cut Kansas City’s lead to 5-4.
“Against this team, no lead feels safe,” Bell said. “This is a really, really good team. It was a nice win.”
The Indians will square off against Kansas City starter Jorge De La Rosa (7-9, 5.16), who is trying to win his fourth straight start. He gave up two runs and matched a career high with seven strikeouts in 5 2-3 innings of last Sunday’s 12-4 victory over Tampa Bay.
De La Rosa owns a 2.41 ERA during the winning streak, which came after an eight-outing winless streak. From May 18-June 22, he went 0-6 with an 8.67 ERA in seven starts and one relief appearance.
The left-hander is 1-2 with a 7.62 ERA in five career starts against the Indians, including 0-2 with a 7.71 ERA in two outings this season.