Indians feel Carmona close to breaking out

Indians feel Carmona close to breaking out

CLEVELAND -- Fausto Carmona's struggles this season have some thinking back to June 2009, when he was shipped out to Goodyear, Ariz., for seven weeks to work on his mechanics and mental makeup.

But Indians manager Manny Acta said Carmona's current state more closely resembles 2007. That's the year Carmona finished fourth in the American League Cy Young Award voting after posting a 19-8 record and 3.06 ERA.

Carmona's latest letdown -- he allowed six runs with two outs in the fifth inning, a frame that proved too much for the Tribe to overcome in an 8-7 loss Monday -- could have been easily avoided, Acta said.

With the bases loaded and the Indians ahead, 4-2, Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki bounced a ball toward third base. Cleveland's Orlando Cabrera was in position to field the ball cleanly, but the ball hit the bag and rerouted, allowing two runs to score. The next batter, Jason Giambi, slugged a three-run homer.

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"If that ball didn't hit the bag yesterday, we would be talking about the positives of [Carmona] having back-to-back good outings," Acta said. "Does he bear some responsibility for walking the ninth hitter with two outs and nobody on? He does. But before then, he was throwing the ball so well and he expressed to me that he feels physically and mentally better than in 2007."

Carmona (4-9, 6.17 ERA) has allowed four or more runs in eight consecutive starts. In the three outings before he was sent to Arizona in 2009, he gave up 19 runs (16 earned) in 7 1/3 innings for a 19.64 ERA.

"Talking about the fundamental side, I feel fine," Carmona said through an interpreter after Monday's loss. "I'm working, I'm doing stuff, I'm making pitches, but I'm not getting the results I want. But I don't feel like I felt in 2009."

In Monday's outing, he yielded a run in the first inning and six in the fifth, but faced the minimum in the three frames in between. Acta took that as a signal that Carmona isn't far from ridding his demons.

"Our pitching guys feel that he's actually on the way to snapping out of it," Acta said. "It was just one big, ugly inning."

Acta said pitching coach Tim Belcher plans to work closely with Carmona before his next start, which is scheduled for Sunday.

"'Belch' might have found something," Acta said. "He's going to work with him on his side day [Wednesday]."

At this juncture, since Carmona is out of options, so are the Indians.

"We're not thinking about doing anything with him right now," Acta said. "It obviously has its limitations by the fact that he's out of options. Not too long ago, he threw 210 innings with a below-4.00 ERA in the American League. Those guys don't grow on trees.

"I know that everybody loves to go by, 'What have you done for me lately?' But you can't go by that approach all the time."