Fausto off his game as Indians lose to Twins

CLEVELAND – For the first time this season, Fausto Carmona looked like the pitcher he was the past two years.

That was bad news for him and the Indians, and great news for the Minnesota Twins.

Carmona sputtered early and Cleveland’s offense followed suit. That was all the Central Division-leading Twins needed to take the series opener 9-3 Friday night at Progressive Field.

Carmona, who had pitched like the Cy Young contender he was in 2007 over his first four starts – 3-0 with a 2.96 ERA – returned to his struggling form of ‘08 and ‘09, allowing six runs on eight hits over six innings.

“He threw the ball better than it showed on the scoreboard,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. “When you’re swinging the bat the way we are right now, you have to play clean baseball. We didn’t do that.”

Cleveland committed two errors – both of them coming after Carmona departed, but the right-hander was hurt by a botched a double-play ball that extended Minnesota’s decisive second inning.

Still, Carmona wasn’t absolved from guilt by a long shot. He wasted little time letting the 14,124 fans in attendance know it was not his night, allowing all five of his runs over the first two innings.

A two-run home run from Justin Morneau, which traveled an estimated 444 feet to dead center, gave Minnesota a 2-0 advantage after four batters.

The Twins were back in business in the second, loading the bases off Carmona, who struck out Brendan Harris, before Denard Span bounced into what appeared to be an inning-ending double play.

Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera flipped cleanly to second baseman Luis Valbuena, but Valbuena’s throw to first was low, and first baseman Matt LaPorta failed to pick the ball, allowing a run to score.

Minnesota’s Orlando Hudson followed with a two-run single that put the Twins in front 5-0.

“I can’t control that,” Carmona said of the double-play attempt.

Carmona settled in to allow just a run over the final four innings of his outing, but with little run support, suffered his first loss of the year.

“The ball was up the first two innings,” Carmona said. “You saw after that, I kept the ball down and got groundballs.”

The Indians’ flailing offense, which came in ranked at the bottom of the American League in nearly every category, was in sleep mode over the first four innings against Twins starter Kevin Slowey.

Slowey shut out Cleveland on four hits and owned a 6-0 lead before the Indians produced their entire offensive output in the fifth inning.

The Twins put the game away with two runs in the seventh off struggling reliever Rafael Perez.

There were some positive signs from the Indians’ offense, which matched Minnesota’s 12-hit output. Grady Sizemore, Travis Hafner and Jhonny Peralta all produced multihit games, combining to go 7-for-13, while driving in two runs.

Sizemore drove in a run with a hit, with Hafner scoring him on a double – the designated hitter’s fifth extra-base hit of the season. Peralta had three hits, including a rare triple.

“We need those guys to start swinging the bat,” Acta said. “If those guys get going, our offense is going to get better.”

Newly activated reliever Hector Ambriz made his major league debut, working a scoreless eighth inning. But the first batter he faced, Delmon Young, hit a deep drive to center that Sizemore made a leaping catch on before crashing into the wall.

Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com.


• WHO: Cleveland vs. Minnesota
• TIME: 7:05
• WHERE: Progressive Field
• PITCHERS: Masterson (0-3, 5.68 ERA) vs. Manship (first start)
• TV/RADIO: SportsTime Ohio; WMMS 100.7-FM

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