Royals can't counter Carmona
De La Rosa struggles early before leaving with bruised thumb
CLEVELAND -- Oh, it was a gorgeous, sunny 70-degree afternoon at Jacobs Field. Perfect weather for Fausto Carmona, king of daytime drama.
Carmona, Cleveland's 23-year-old right-hander, has an 8-0 record and 1.98 ERA in day games after pitching the Indians to a 5-3 victory over the Royals on Sunday. Carmona worked seven innings, upping his overall mark to 11-4.
The Indians took the series, 2-1, cooling off the Royals, who arrived from the All-Star break on a 9-4 roll. This, of course, was just the first test for the Royals on this trip, which also includes Boston and Detroit.
No free passes on this journey.
Speaking of free passes, ouch. Royals starter Jorge De La Rosa had difficulty honing in on home plate. He issued his first walk to Victor Martinez in the first inning and paid for it immediately when Travis Hafner deposited a 1-1 pitch into the right-field seats for his 15th home run and a 2-0 lead.
The blast was substantial, estimated at 436 feet.
In the third inning, De La Rosa not only walked the bases full but he struck out the side. By then, De La Rosa already had expended 72 pitches. No wonder because he'd walked five batters and struck out six. That takes a lot of pitches.
Ryan Garko needed just one pitch, though, to up the Indians' lead to 3-0. He led off the fourth inning with a drive over the left-field wall.
After an out, De La Rosa issued his sixth walk and then took a walk himself -- off the mound. The departure was prompted by a bruise on his left thumb.
"I saw him messing with his hand out there and I didn't know what was going on," manager Buddy Bell said.
De La Rosa, exhibiting a dark bruise on his thumb, said he didn't know how it developed, but it was bothering him before the game.
"But it's no excuse for walking so many guys," De La Rosa said.
He left after six walks, six strikeouts and giving up two hits, both home runs. Odd pitching line.
"Not for Jorgie," Bell said. "Pretty typical."
But the early exit was a surprise, and the Royals took a few moments to count noses in the bullpen. Finally, Jimmy Gobble emerged and, after a long warmup, the game continued.
Gobble ended that inning and also the fifth, with an assist from right fielder Mark Teahen -- literally. Hafner rifled a drive off the wall and Teahen threw him out trying for second. It was the 11th assist this season for the third baseman-turned-outfielder.
Carmona, for four innings, kept busy fending off the Royals, forcing them to strand six runners. In the fifth, however, Billy Butler belted a run-scoring double and Ross Gload lined an RBI single for a 3-2 score.
David Riske, a longtime bullpen staple in Cleveland, pitched the sixth inning for the Royals. His shutout string of 13 innings in 10 games ended as the Indians scored twice thanks to singles by Garko and Jason Michaels, Franklin Gutierrez's RBI double and Josh Barfield's sacrifice fly.
"It was one of those days when I didn't really have anything out there," Riske said. "It's especially upsetting when it happens against your old team. That's something you don't want."
Once Carmona had left the sun-splashed green, reliever Rafael Betancourt gave up an eighth-inning solo home run to Royals newcomer Jason Smith.
Smith, filling in for shortstop Tony Pena Jr., went hitless three times with runners on base. But he drove a 3-2 pitch from Betancourt into the right-field seats to cut the Tribe's lead to 5-3. It was his first Major League homer since last Aug. 11.
"It's nice getting that first hit out of the way," Smith said.
Smith also showed his fielding acumen. In the first inning, he sprinted into left field to catch Grady Sizemore's leadoff looping liner.
"I was surprised it landed in my glove," Smith said.
In the eighth, Smith ranged deep into the shortstop hole for Michaels' grounder and barely missed retiring him with a long throw to first.
Left-hander John Bale made his pitching debut for the Royals and worked two scoreless innings despite giving up three singles.
"It was nice to see those two guys get in there and do well," Bell said.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.