Indians see late lead disappear
Francisco homers, but Reds get to Kobayashi in ninth inning
CINCINNATI -- At least Masa Kobayashi had some sympathy in the clubhouse Saturday.After all, Fausto Carmona has been in Kobayashi's shoes. He knows what it's like to have a shot at establishing yourself as the Indians' closer, only to see disaster strike. That's what happened to Kobayashi in the Indians' 4-2 heartbreaker of a loss to the Reds at Great American Ball Park. Entrusted with the one-run lead Carmona left behind, Kobayashi suffered his first blown save in the Majors when Adam Dunn torched him for a walk-off three-run homer in the ninth.
"It's tough," Carmona said through interpreter Luis Rivera. "I know how Masa feels, knowing that it didn't work out for him."It was Carmona, of course, who was in this position in late July of 2006, when he took over the closing duties from Bob Wickman and blew three save opportunities in the span of the week. Carmona recovered to become a dominant starter in '07. And in this outing, he recovered from the control issues that have plagued him much of this year. Carmona didn't walk a batter in this start, which explains how he was able to pitch into the eighth inning for the second time in as many starts and the second time this year. "It allows him to be efficient and go deeper into the ballgame," manager Eric Wedge said. "Fausto threw a great ballgame." It was a ballgame the Indians led 1-0 early and 2-1 late because of an outstanding performance from Ben Francisco, who went 3-for-4 with a homer and is playing himself into more and more of an everyday role in Wedge's outfield. Francisco's one-out single in the second set up Ryan Garko's RBI double off Aaron Harang, which gave the Tribe the initial lead. Carmona was rolling along fine with that advantage until the sixth, when he finally surrendered a double to Jerry Hairston Jr. and a two-out RBI single to former Indians second baseman Brandon Phillips. Phillips, who always seems to rise to the occasion against his former club, did a little dance after notching that game-tying hit, but Wedge chose to ignore it. "I don't have much to say about that," Wedge said. Had Wedge not been so disappointed in the eventual outcome of this one, he might have had more to say about the way Carmona threw the ball. Carmona allowed just that run on four hits with four strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings, and only three of the 22 outs he recorded were of the fly-ball variety. "That was my plan ... to keep the ball down and get ground balls," Carmona said. "Even though the game was a low-scoring game, I felt I was under control of my pitches. I was solid and I stayed behind the ball. I wasn't trying to do too much with the ball."
|"I was trying to throw a strike with the two-seamer. It wasn't down."|
|-- Masa Kobayashi|
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.