EASTLAKE, Ohio -- Fausto Carmona had to wait longer than expected to make his first start since his June 5 ousting from the Indians. But it didn't seem to affect him. Following a one-hour rain delay, Carmona pitched 6 1/3 innings, allowing no runs and one hit with seven strikeouts and a walk for the Class A Lake County Captains against Hagerstown on Thursday at Classic Park. The impressive start was Carmona's first step toward getting back to the Tribe after his deep demotion to the Arizona Rookie League earlier this month. Carmona was 2-6 with a 7.42 ERA in 12 starts for the Tribe.
"It was good to get back to normal," Carmona said through translator Julio Rangel. "I was able to throw everything for strikes." Carmona said he did not know what the next step in his progression would be. Before the Indians' game with the Pirates, manager Eric Wedge said Cleveland is taking things one step at a time. "There are certain things we want to see when he's out there pitching," Wedge said. "If he proves to himself and us that he's getting beyond some of these things, then we'll continue to move him [up]." The Indians want to see Carmona regroup after a bad pitch and put it behind him. "What happens out there, park it, so to speak, get yourself together and be all-in on the next pitch," Wedge said. "We talk about separation a lot. It's a more precise form of that." But in this start, there weren't many bad pitches to get past. Carmona was to be held to 85 pitches or seven innings. He hit his pitch count first, after struggling to hit his spots in the first two innings. But Carmona settled down in the third and lasted deep into the game. He set down the Suns in order in the second through the sixth innings and used a fastball, which scouts clocked in the upper 90s, to blow the overmatched hitters away. But, more importantly, he threw them for strikes. Carmona walked 41 batters in 60 2/3 innings for the Tribe before the demotion. Carmona, who said that he worked on throwing closer to his body in Arizona, brought his no-hit bid into the seventh, when second baseman Steve Lombardozzi grounded a ball up the middle that just got past Captains second baseman Karexon Sanchez. But Carmona didn't let it bother him. "I wasn't even thinking about that," Carmona said. "I went out there and worked on everything I was working on in Arizona. I feel more confident."
Matt O'Donnell is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.