CLEVELAND -- In three games played over a 22-hour span, Indians pitchers gave up 31 runs to the Rangers. If Fausto Carmona had been left on the mound long enough in the series finale Wednesday afternoon, it could have been significantly more. Carmona got roughed up for five runs in just two-thirds of an inning -- the shortest start of his Major League career -- and reliever Rafael Perez coughed up a five-spot of his own in the ninth inning of a 10-0 loss at Progressive Field for an Indians team that will finish the year with a 1-8 record against the Rangers.
"It was ugly early," said manager Eric Wedge, "and it was ugly late." It's been ugly often when Carmona takes the mound the past two seasons. He shows occasional flashes of the guy who won 19 games for the Tribe in 2007, but too often, he proves to be a mechanical and mental mess. In this start, he allowed the five runs on six hits, including two homers, with a walk and a strikeout and was sent to the showers about 25 minutes after he threw the game's first pitch. A two-month banishment to the Minor Leagues this season got Carmona refocused on his between-starts preparation, but the actual results prove he's still a work in progress. "It's just a matter of him taking what he works so hard on in the bullpens and going out and allowing it to translate in the games," pitching coach Carl Willis said. "Today, from pitch one, he really lost direction with his delivery and had a hard time getting the ball over the plate." Carmona also has a hard time understanding his off-the-field responsibilities as a Major League starter -- namely, being accountable with reporters. He was in street clothes and leaving the clubhouse the same time reporters entered, and he brushed them off like those midges he once famously ignored in the American League Division Series against the Yankees. Carmona was in street clothes and leaving the clubhouse the same time reporters entered, leaving Willis to do the articulating in his place. "I'm sure he's frustrated," Willis said. "He's got a tremendous amount of pride. He cares a lot about this team and his teammates. I've felt many times that he puts a lot of pressure on himself to go out and perform and do a good job." One would assume Carmona was feeling added pressure after the battering the Indians' pitching staff suffered in Tuesday's doubleheader. The bullpen was worn thin in those two games, but Carmona did nothing to preserve it. Carmona's outing got off to a rough start when he walked leadoff man Julio Borbon, and then the hits came. Elvis Andrus singled, and Marlon Byrd sent a three-run blast over the center-field wall with one out to make it 3-0. Carmona retired Nelson Cruz to get the inning's second out, but then he gave up a single to David Murphy and a two-run blast to left off the bat of Ivan Rodriguez. It was 5-0. After a pair of singles from Chris Davis and Esteban German, Carmona was mercifully pulled. Jensen Lewis came on to get the last out of the inning, and the sparse crowd cheered sarcastically. "Today was a step back [for Carmona]," Wedge said. "That goes without saying." If it's any consolation, it was a step forward for Lewis, who turned in 3 1/3 scoreless innings to keep the Indians in it. And left-hander Mike Gosling followed suit with four scoreless innings of his own. For the first time in this series, Indians pitching was quelling Rangers hitting. But what did it matter with Scott Feldman on the mound for Texas? It mattered not, because Feldman was on top of his game. He blanked the Tribe for seven innings in which he allowed just five hits with two walks and five strikeouts. "He does a great job with his breaking ball," Wedge said of Feldman. "You just look at the way he used that breaking ball to left-handers and to right-handers, and he does an outstanding job with it." Perez lost his setup job long ago, and his climb back toward respectability remains a long and bumpy one. Handed the ball in the ninth, with the Indians still trailing, 5-0, Perez watched a German bouncer down the third-base line get past Jhonny Peralta for a double, then made a fielding error on a ball hit by Borbon to put two on. That's when Perez fell apart under an onslaught of singles, as the Rangers strung together five more runs. "I don't know if he let that first ball that got by Jhonny get to his head, because then he had an opportunity to make a play, and he didn't," Wedge said of Perez. "Regardless of what happens, whether it's your fault or somebody else's fault, you've got to bow your neck and get through innings." This series sweep came down to the fact that the Indians' starting pitchers -- Carmona, Aaron Laffey and Carlos Carrasco -- didn't give them many quality innings. They set the tone for a series in which the Tribe was outscored, 31-14, and swept by the Rangers in Cleveland for the first time since May 1992. "Starting pitching sets the tone," Wedge said. "When you put yourself in that position before you even get a chance to come up and hit, it has the potential to be a long day, and that's what it was."
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.