Carmona, Tribe polish off O's

Carmona, Tribe polish off O's

CLEVELAND -- Fausto Carmona is not making life easy on manager Eric Wedge.

And that's fine by Carmona, who pitched brilliantly on Sunday afternoon in what could be his last big-league start before being shipped down to Triple-A Buffalo.

The 23-year-old right-hander gave up just one run on six hits over a career-high 8 1/3 innings as the Indians dusted the Orioles, 6-1, at Jacobs Field.

The first-place Indians have now won seven of their first eight series and are off to their fastest start since 2000. Yet, perhaps, the best thing about Sunday's game is that it brought the month of April to a close.

Carmona certainly capped the bizarre month off in grand fashion, coming just two outs away from a complete-game shutout before Aubrey Huff drove a solo homer into the right-field stands.

"He was pretty awesome," Casey Blake said of Carmona.

Said Wedge: "I can't say enough about that performance."

But will it be Carmona's last performance in Cleveland? Fittingly, the month ended with more uncertainty.

Carmona looks to be bumped from the rotation with Cliff Lee returning from the disabled list on Thursday. But Carmona has made three straight terrific starts and could clearly help the team by remaining in the rotation.

"One way or another, we're going to have a tough decision to make," Wedge said.

Carmona bristled somewhat when the subject concerning his future was broached.

"I'm not even thinking about that," Carmona said through translator Luis Rivera, the team's first-base coach. "I'm not going to waste my energy thinking about things that I can't control."

Still, a judgment inevitably must be made. Does Wedge somehow find room for Carmona to stay in the rotation? Does he move to the bullpen? Is he optioned down to Triple-A Buffalo where he could continue to pitch in a regular rotation?

Wedge spoke as if that decision had already been worked out, though he would not disclose any information.

"We're not going to do anything today, let's put it that way," Wedge said. "In a situation like this, we're going to take as long as we can."

A wealth of pitching is the envy of any team, but not in times like these. In his last three starts, Carmona has allowed just five runs over 22 innings. And he was undeniably at his finest on Sunday.

Working perpetually ahead in the count, he kept hitters off balance and induced 18 ground-ball outs. Carmona said he had never felt better during his young big-league career.

"It was about as efficient as any start you'll see," Wedge said, "the way he was getting early outs, just pounding the zone."

Carmona needed little help in the win, though the Indians gave him plenty anyway.

Victor Martinez's two-run single in the first inning and Blake's solo shot into the left-field bleachers in the second put the Indians ahead, 3-0, early. Trot Nixon, Jhonny Peralta and Shin-Soo Choo gave the Tribe an additional boost with RBI singles in the eighth.

Like the club's five-run barrage on Friday against Jeremy Guthrie, the Indians' former first-round pick, Sunday's early offense also came against an old friend.

Jaret Wright, in his first career outing against his former team and making his first start since coming off the disabled list with a sore right shoulder, gave up three runs over just three innings.

The disappointment at Jacobs Field was familiar. Wright rapidly went from a playoff hero in 1997 to an injury-plagued disappointment during his six-year tenure with the Indians.

In the other dugout, however, the Indians' next bright prospect just keeps looking better and better.

Which is all the more impressive after Carmona's well-documented implosion in the closer's role last season and his rough first outing this season.

"I never lost confidence, even after last year," Carmona said. "Sooner or later, I knew I was going to pitch better."

Now, where will those pitches come?

David Briggs is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.