CLEVELAND -- Just as the Indians' bats appear to be pulling out of their season-long funk, the pitching staff has ensured that even minimal output is sufficient. Fausto Carmona's complete-game gem in a 3-0 victory in the first game of a doubleheader with the Blue Jays on Monday at Progressive Field marked the third time in five games that Tribe pitchers shut out the opposition. Just the way the Tribe drew it up, right?
"To envision it is tough up here," manager Eric Wedge said. "But you try to put yourself in the best position to be as consistent as you can be, and that starts with the starting pitching." The Indians' starting pitching has been the best in the American League this season, and Carmona kept the trend alive with his finest start of '08. In nine innings, all he allowed were five hits with four walks and three strikeouts. The walks, which have bothered Carmona all season, were still a small concern in this start, but he had no trouble working himself out of jams. "I was staying on top of the ball and getting first-pitch strikes as much as possible," Carmona said through interpreter Luis Rivera. "That helped me control the ball better and keep the ball down." Carmona also had some dazzling defensive work to thank. In the second inning, after Scott Rolen led off with a walk, Carmona got Matt Stairs to hit a grounder up the middle. Asdrubal Cabrera, spelling Jhonny Peralta at short, scooped the ball up behind the bag and flipped it with his glove to second baseman Jamey Carroll, who turned the double play. Other defensive highlights included Ryan Garko's diving stop of a Joe Inglett grounder with two outs and two on in the seventh to help preserve a 1-0 lead and Ben Francisco's perfect throw from right field to nab Rolen at third in the fourth inning. "Defensively, I thought we were outstanding," Wedge said. Of course, the Indians still needed some offense, and it was tough to come by off Jays starter A.J. Burnett. But they finally snuck a run across in the top of the sixth, when Grady Sizemore ripped a double off the right-field wall, moved to third on a groundout and scored on David Dellucci's bouncing single up the middle. "It felt good to be able to get on the board first," Dellucci said. "The way Fausto was pitching, we knew it wouldn't take a whole lot." Carmona received more breathing room in the seventh. With one on and one out, Cabrera pulled out a pink bat -- the Indians and Jays were allowed to use the bats to encourage breast cancer awareness because their Mother's Day game was rained out -- for the first time all day and used it to hit his first homer of the season. It was a two-run shot through the wind and into the right-field seats. That was more than enough support for Carmona (4-1, 2.40 ERA), who tossed his third career complete game and second career shutout.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.