BALTIMORE -- Fausto Carmona's first big-league start against the Tigers last Saturday was the kind that gets an observer thinking about the 22-year-old kid's ace potential. His second against the Orioles on Thursday afternoon was the kind that gets one thinking about his potential of jumping on a bus to Triple-A. The difference between those two worlds might seem gigantic. But to Carmona, it's fairly small.
"Two home runs," he said through interpreter Ronnie Belliard. "Two bad pitches." Truth be known, more than two pitches by the Indians were bad ones in this 9-4 loss to the O's. For the second time in as many days, the Tribe pitching staff couldn't back up some strong, early run support from the offense, and a series loss to the Birds was the result. "This is baseball," catcher Victor Martinez said. "You have to play hard and do the little things to win a baseball game. The last two games haven't been good for us." At the least, they were good for Martinez, who homered in every game of this series. But his solo shot off Erik Bedard in the sixth inning of this one and Eduardo Perez's two-run blast in the fourth didn't amount to much. The 22-year-old Carmona, making his second spot start in place of the injured C.C. Sabathia, quickly let the 4-3 lead gained by those homers get away in the bottom of the sixth. Earlier in the game, Carmona (1-1, 7.15 ERA) had already displayed some command issues. His pitches were consistently belt-high, and the Orioles took advantage with three runs off five hits, including Miguel Tejada's solo homer, in the first five innings. But the game really got away from him in the sixth. When the first batter Carmona faced that inning, Jay Gibbons, tagged him for a double, the O's rally had its spark. One out later, Javy Lopez took a slider that didn't slide all the way out to the left-field seats to make it a 5-4 game. The outing was rapidly progressing from an opportunity for a second win to a learning experience for Carmona. "Part of his development," manager Eric Wedge said, "will be learning to minimize damage and work ahead." Carmona couldn't do that this time around. After Lopez's home run, he walked Kevin Millar, gave up a single to Corey Patterson and intentionally walked Brian Roberts to load the bases before giving way to reliever Jason Davis. For all his struggles, though, Carmona didn't seem rattled after the game. "I felt better," he said, comparing this start to his first. "They hit good pitches. I was throwing the ball good." Just not good enough to escape damage. And the same went for Davis, who let Jeff Conine and Tejada touch him for a pair of two-run singles before the game-changing sixth was complete. The Orioles' six-spot pretty much took the life out of the Indians, who never posed much threat of a rally. In the eighth, Jhonny Peralta singled and Travis Hafner followed with a double. But when third-base coach Jeff Datz sent Peralta heading home on the play, he was gunned out with ease, and all momentum was lost. That play isn't what lost the game for the Indians, though. The pitching did. "We were not executing our pitches," Wedge said. "The difference was more on our side." It was more on Carmona's side than anywhere else. With at least one more spot on Thursday against the Red Sox ahead for him, Carmona now has the ups and the downs of the baseball world to draw experience from. "I don't feel good [about losing]," he said. "I'll be happy when we win. I tried to help us win today, and I tried to make good pitches."
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.