Carmona brilliant, shuts down Red Sox
Pitchers' duel goes Cleveland's way thanks to Gutierrez homer
CLEVELAND -- Fausto Carmona remembers it all from last season's nightmare at Fenway; the head-down walks back to the losing dugout, David Ortiz's walk-off homer and the Red Sox celebrations.
One thought, then, ruled Carmona's mind before his start against Boston on Wednesday night.
"I didn't want that to happen again," Carmona said through a translator, first-base coach Luis Rivera.
It didn't. Carmona, outpitching Boston ace Josh Beckett, carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning and tossed eight scoreless innings as the Indians flipped the script from one night ago, emerging with a 1-0 victory before 29,614 at Jacobs Field.
So was it safe to say that the 23-year-old right-hander was looking forward to facing the Sox for the first time since the Tribe's short-lived experiment with Carmona as the club's closer blew up spectacularly last summer at Fenway Park?
"Si, Si," Carmona said, smiling and nodding.
The smile said it all: Hey, Boston, look at me now.
On a night when the Indians most needed it, Carmona continued his domination of the American League in picking up his 13th win and further cementing his status as one of the game's -- if not Cleveland's -- top pitchers.
"He continues to just go out there and get it done," manager Eric Wedge said. "Fausto was outstanding."
The win seemed to take on a special significance for the Tribe. And not because it was the first time since 1942 that they lost and then won a 1-0 game back-to-back. Or because the postgame pie was abnormally scrumptious -- "I think it was a white-chocolate one," said Franklin Gutierrez, whose homer provided the game's lone offense. "It tasted good. It was nice."
Instead it was because it came after the Indians had lost the first two games of a series against baseball's top team, a series the club saw as a measuring stick.
"I think this [win] says a lot about our guys," Wedge said. "The group of people in here this year, their skin's a little bit thicker, they're a little bit tougher."
Maybe, too, the win felt different because it wasn't all Carmona.
Unlike for C.C. Sabathia, who dueled with Daisuke Matsuzaka in Tuesday's loss, the Tribe's bats gave Carmona some support. Gutierrez ended Cleveland's 17-inning scoreless streak with his third-inning homer onto the left-field porch.
And unlike for Sabathia, the club's defense went above and beyond the call of duty for their pitcher. There was the pair of runners that catcher Victor Martinez nailed at second in the eighth inning. And more important, there had been his game-saving block of home plate in the sixth.
With two outs and Coco Crisp on second, Josh Barfield made a diving stop on an Ortiz grounder into short right-center. Crisp never stopped running, and without a play on Ortiz at first, Barfield smartly threw home to a perfectly positioned Martinez.
"[There were] a lot of different things that you didn't see on the scoreboard," Wedge said.
Add all that to another brilliant performance by Carmona, and the Red Sox stood little chance.
Just how dominant was Carmona, who stifled the Sox with his usually devastating, mid-90s sinking fastball?
Carmona faced just three over the minimum through six innings, struck out six and did not allow a ball to leave the infield until the fifth inning.
Perhaps his night's lone downfall was that he would not treat the increasingly vivacious Jacobs Field crowd to the first no-hitter in the park's 14-year history. Such hopes came to an end in the sixth with Crisp's one-out infield single up the middle. Shortstop Jhonny Peralta reached the ball with a dive, but his throw to first baseman Ryan Garko was offline.
Carmona finished allowing just four hits. It was his second straight brilliant outing in what's been the finest month of his career. Baseball's hottest pitcher is now 5-0 with a 1.58 ERA in July.
"He had explosive stuff," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "It was impressive."
"I think what impressed me most is when guys get hits off him," Barfield said. "I have no idea how they do it."
Weird how much difference a summer makes.
David Briggs is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.