The Indians hope the young right-hander can be the dominant force he was earlier this season as they try to move back into a first-place tie with a win in the finale of a two-game set with the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday night.
Cleveland (65-54) lost the series opener to Detroit 6-2 in 10 innings Tuesday night, falling a game behind the Tigers (66-53) in the AL Central.
Carmona (13-7, 3.26 ERA) has helped the Indians contend this season after they finished 18 games back in 2006, but he’s lost three straight starts despite posting a 3.00 ERA during that span.
A loss Tuesday would tie Carmona’s career-worst skid, set from July 30-Aug. 5, 2006. He was 1-10 with a 5.42 ERA in his rookie season.
Carmona gave up four runs and eight hits in seven innings as Cleveland lost 6-1 to the New York Yankees on Friday night. It was the first time he allowed more than three runs since surrendering eight in a loss to Oakland on June 27.
He’s 1-0 with a 5.54 ERA in two starts against the Tigers this season, and 2-1 with a 4.57 ERA in three starts and three relief appearances in his career when facing them.
Carmona will be facing a Detroit lineup featuring a red-hot Magglio Ordonez, who hit a three-run homer in Detroit’s four-run 10th inning Tuesday. Ordonez is batting .571 (12-for-21) with four home runs, two doubles, 14 RBIs and six runs in his last five games.
Ordonez, who leads the majors with a .359 batting average, has 108 RBIs— four more than he tallied in 155 games last year.
Detroit, though, may have to go with a revamped lineup again after second baseman Placido Polanco and left fielder Craig Monroe were sick with the flu and scratched from the Tuesday’s game. Ryan Raburn started at second while Marcus Thames took Monroe’s spot in left field on Tuesday.
The flu bug is going around the Tigers’ clubhouse. Right-hander Justin Verlander was sick Monday night, but felt better the next day.
“That’s the way it goes,” Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. “Polanco’s all wrapped up in jackets. He’s trying to sweat it out. He’s sick as a dog.”
Polanco is batting .385 (55-for-143) with six home runs and 16 RBIs in his last 34 games, and if he’s to miss any more time, the Tigers may have a tough time keeping their division lead.
Detroit is just 14-19 since the All-Star break. The Indians, however, have not been any better, going 13-18 with a struggling lineup.
Grady Sizemore was Cleveland’s lone bright spot at the plate Tuesday, hitting a two-run homer. The Indians, though, went 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position.
Sizemore was moved from the top of the order to third, with Kenny Lofton batting leadoff for the first time since his return to the Indians on July 27 following a trade from Texas.
“It’s a team decision,” Cleveland manager Eric Wedge told the Indians’ official Web site. “It’s something that will hopefully help us as a ballclub.”
The Indians’ altered lineup will now face Tigers right-hander Jair Jurrjens, who will be making his major league debut, taking Kenny Rogers’ spot in the rotation.
Jurrjens, 21 and a native of the Netherlands Antilles, was 7-5 with a 3.20 ERA in 19 starts this season with Double-A Erie. Rogers, recovering from a sore elbow played catch Monday and hopes to come off the disabled list by the end of the week.