In his last start, Fausto Carmona finally got some help at the plate and pushed the Cleveland Indians into a tie with the Detroit Tigers for the AL Central lead. On Tuesday, he’ll try to increase the Indians’ division edge.
Carmona makes his second straight start for the Indians (68-55) against rookie Jair Jurrjens and the Tigers (67-57) as they begin a three-game series at Comerica Park on Tuesday night.
On Wednesday in Cleveland, Carmona (14-7, 3.16 ERA) struck out a career-high 10 and allowed two runs and four hits over eight innings of a 5-2 win. The right-hander snapped a three-start losing streak, during which he had limited opponents to a .237 batting average but received just two runs of support.
“Whew, Carmona was something,” said the Tigers’ Brandon Inge. “First of all, he has an incredible sinker, but he’s throwing a slider and changeup for strikes, too. All night, I saw one, maybe two pitches up in the zone. Everything else was on the black or at the knees - and with movement.”
Carmona has won both of his career starts in Detroit, including on May 27 when he allowed three runs and nine hits through seven innings of a 5-3 triumph.
Jurrjens (0-1, 5.14), who will make his home debut, threw 104 pitches Wednesday over seven innings in his first major league start. He gave up four runs and five hits with two walks and three strikeouts.
“I was in a fantasy world,” said Jurrjens, who was recalled from Double-A Erie before the game and became the first native of Curacao to pitch in the majors. “This was the first time my dad saw me pitch (as a professional). I recognized his whistle in the crowd. That was the best feeling ever.
“I thought I pitched OK, but that Carmona was incredible. He has the best two-seamer in the game.”
After moving into a tie atop the Central, the Indians took two of three from lowly Tampa Bay. They failed to cap the sweep, though, falling 4-3 in 12 innings on Sunday.
Cleveland took a 3-2 lead in the 10th on Victor Martinez’s sacrifice fly, but closer Joe Borowski blew the save in the bottom of the inning when he gave up Carl Crawford’s RBI single. Rafael Perez later yielded the game-winning RBI single to Joel Guzman.
The Indians, though, maintained their 1 1/2-game division lead, as the Tigers fell 9-3 to the New York Yankees. Detroit was outscored 20-6 while dropping the final three games of a four-game set in the Bronx.
“I just think you go through hot and cold streaks during the course of the year,” said Detroit’s Gary Sheffield, who was hitless in three of the four games and booed loudly all weekend in his return to New York. “Unfortunately, we’re going through a cold streak right now.”
Tigers All-Star catcher Ivan Rodriguez was given Sunday off, and rookie Mike Rabelo had three hits and an RBI in his place. Rodriguez is 2-for-5 with a homer in his career against Carmona, while Rabelo is 3-for-6 with three strikeouts versus the Indians right-hander.
Magglio Ordonez, who leads the majors with a .351 batting average, is 7-for-21 in six home games versus the Indians this year. Ordonez leads Detroit with 22 homers and 110 RBIs in 2007.
The Tigers will recall reliever Joel Zumaya from his rehabilitation assignment and activate him from the disabled list. The right-hander, whose fastball regularly tops 100 mph, had surgery three months ago to repair a ruptured tendon in his right middle finger.
Zumaya was put on the disabled list May 3 with a 1-1 record, 3.63 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 13 appearances this season. He ranked third among AL relievers with 97 strikeouts last season.