Lost among the hype about the offense's performance the past four games, Carlos Santana's first Major League hit and home run and Stephen Strasburg's appearance in Cleveland tomorrow was a fantastic pitching performance by Fausto Carmona.
Nine innings. Three hits allowed. Twenty-two first-pitch strikes. Zero walks.
That's a pretty good stat line.
Carmona looked like his 2007 self (a season during which he won 19 games and finished fourth in the Cy Young voting) flawlessly retiring Washington batter after Washington batter in a 7-1 win tonight. The only hiccup in the 106-pitch performance being a solo home run to Ryan Zimmerman.
A strong start from Carmona is a good sign for a pitching staff that has collectively struggled this season (4.58 ERA and 1.58 WHIP). Despite his 5-5 overall record, Carmona has been one of the more consistent Cleveland starters this season, having pitched at least six innings in all but one start and only allowing more than seven hits twice.
In Carmona's five losses, the Indians offense has scored just 11 runs. In his five wins, the offense has scored 26 runs. In his three no decisions, the offense scored nine runs. Now with the offense seemingly gelling, Carmona and all of Cleveland starters should start getting better run support, which almost always results in more wins.
Do I think Cleveland has a legitimate shot at making a run at the AL Central? No. But if Carmona and Mitch Talbot can continue pitching well as Jake Westbrook and the other starters get things straightened out, the Indians can potentially play spoiler in the AL Central.
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