June 29, 2016

Intermittent clouds

Indians shut out again, drop fifth straight at home

CLEVELAND – Fausto Carmona made only two mistakes in his 61⁄3 innings of work Saturday night. Unfortunately for the right-hander and the Indians, they traveled a combined 885 feet.

Carmona allowed a pair of mammoth two-run home runs to Texas’ Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz, with the two titanic shots powering the Rangers to a 4-0 victory at Progressive Field that secured the four-game series for the visitors.

Other than the two long balls, Carmona pitched well enough to win, but was forced to go it alone, with the Indians’ offense scuffling once again.

“I thought Fausto pitched pretty well,” said manager Manny Acta, whose team lost for the eighth time in 11 games, was shut out for the third time in nine games and saw its lead in the Central Division dwindle to 3½ games. “He made two mistakes the whole time he was out there. He gave us a chance to win.

“We are struggling at the plate right now. We hit a few balls hard but right at people. Our lineup is scuffling right now.”

A night after being overmatched by the fastball of Alexi Ogando, the Indians, who were without injured starters Travis Hafner and Jack Hannahan and played without Shin-Soo Choo (day off), fell prey to an unheralded left-hander, Derek Holland.

Holland, a Newark native who entered the night with a 4-1 record and 4.96 ERA, pitched the second complete game of his career, blanking Cleveland on five hits, while striking out five.

Holland retired 12 straight before allowing a one-out walk to Adam Everett in the sixth, an inning in which the Indians loaded the bases with two outs before Carlos Santana grounded out sharply to third.

Carmona (3-7, 5.33 ERA) allowed Hamilton’s two-run homer in the opening inning, a blast to the second deck in right field that traveled an estimated 445 feet.

He settled in to shut out the vaunted Texas lineup over the next five innings, but another no-doubt homer to Cruz harpooned Carmona in the seventh. Cruz’s two-run shot on an elevated slider with the count 1-2, traveled an estimated 440 feet to left-center.

“I missed two pitches, two home runs,” Carmona said. “I like how I pitched today. I was throwing strikes, keeping the ball down and getting quick innings.”

It was a much better effort from Carmona than his last time out – nine runs on nine hits in four innings of an 11-1 loss to Toronto – but he has been inconsistent during his first season as the full-time ace. Carmona is 0-4 in his last four starts, posting a whopping 8.87 ERA over the span.

“He’s had a few rough ones,” Acta said. “We’re not going to deny that. But for the most part, he has gone deep into the game and given us a chance to win.”

The depleted Indians might be dealing with another injury after reliever Vinnie Pestano left the game before throwing a pitch in the ninth inning, his lower back tightening up after a series of warmup pitches.

“He wanted to pitch through it but we didn’t want to take a chance,” Acta said of one of his most reliable relievers this season. “We’ll see how he shows up (today).”

It was the season-high fifth straight loss at home for the Indians, who also equaled a season high with their third straight defeat overall.

Texas, which has won the first three games of the series, continued its recent mastery of Cleveland. The Rangers have won 15 of their last 18 games against the Indians, including 10 of their last 11 at Progressive Field.

Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.


• WHO: Cleveland vs. Texas
• TIME: 1:05
• WHERE: Progressive Field
• PITCHERS: Talbot (2-1, 4.50 ERA) vs. Wilson (5-3, 3.32)
• TV/RADIO: SportsTime Ohio; WEOL 930-AM, WTAM 1100-AM