CHICAGO -- Fausto Carmona is a man of few words. On Thursday, he stood at his locker inside the visitors' clubhouse at U.S. Cellular Field, looking bewildered as the Indians packed for their trip back to Cleveland.
Carmona does not usually say much as it is, but on this evening, he was simply at a loss. On a foggy night on Chicago's South Side, the big sinkerballer was battered around and the Tribe was soundly beaten, 8-2, by the White Sox in an ugly and forgettable display.
Really, there was only one thing Carmona could offer.
"They're killing me this year," he said.
Carmona has only faced the White Sox twice this season, but both experiences have been the stuff of nightmares. Chicago torched him for 10 runs in three-plus innings on Opening Day on April 1 and piled on another eight runs in five frames this time around.
Were this the scene of a crime, Carmona would be telling police officers that "it all happened so fast." Essentially, that was all the pitcher could come up with following his second disaster of the season against Cleveland's American League Central rivals.
"I don't know what happened," Carmona said.
Indians manager Manny Acta stepped forward with an explanation.
When Carmona is at his best, there is roughly a separation of 10 mph between his fastball and his changeup. When that gap in velocity narrows, Carmona's pitches flatten out and he becomes more hittable. Such mistakes are hard to get away with against the White Sox.
In the first few innings on Thursday, Carmona's changeup was registering around 87-88 mph -- far too hot for him to be successful. Making matters worse, Carmona said his slider lacked its typical movement. As a result, Chicago looked relentless at the plate.
"There are certain teams," Acta said, "where he can get away with not having very good separation on his pitches. This is not one of those teams where he can do it. Unfortunately, regardless of the situation, Opening Day or whatever, coming back after that outing, he just didn't have it today.
"He was throwing way too hard with his breaking pitches. These guys are very aggressive and they made him pay for it."
The loss was the second in as many games for the Indians (26-15), who head home on the heels of a 2-2 showing through Kansas City and Chicago. It certainly did not help any that the Tribe was missing Travis Buck (left big toe) and Travis Hafner (right side soreness) on Thursday.
Hafner will have an MRI exam on Friday in Cleveland to help determine if he needs to be placed on the disabled list.
"We'll get it checked out tomorrow," Hafner said after Thursday's loss. "It's possiblly an oblique, but I'm not sure yet. I think one f the big things was how I felt this morning. It wasn't worse, so that's kind of encouraging. We'll get it checked out tomorrow and kind of see where we're at."
On top of that, Grady Sizemore (right knee) is on the 15-day DL and second baseman Orlando Cabrera was away from the team, earning his U.S. citizenship. That made for a depleted lineup against righty Gavin Floyd, who held the Tribe to one run over seven innings for the White Sox (20-25).
Acta did not want to use the short-handed offense as an excuse for managing just two runs -- a first-inning sacrifice fly from Carlos Santana and a ninth-inning homer for Matt LaPorta -- over the past two games.
"I'm not going to sit here and tell you that our lineup is better without Grady Sizemore and Cabrera," Acta said. "But also I'm not going to sit here and make excuses, because they did make good pitches. Injuries are a part of the game.
"Every team in Major League Baseball has to deal with it. We're not going to make excuses. They pitched well and that's it."
And then there was Carmona.
Juan Pierre led off the first inning with a double down the right-field line. Carmona followed by hitting Alexei Ramirez with a pitch to put himself in an early hole. Two batters later, Paul Konerko stroked a two-run double off Carmona to put the Indians behind, 2-1.
In the second inning, the White Sox loaded the bases with no outs. Ramirez later contributed a two-run double and Adam Dunn added a two-run single to push Cleveland's deficit to 6-1. Carlos Quentin added a two-run homer -- his ninth blast of the year -- to put the Tribe down, 8-1, in the fifth.
"If we can battle like we did tonight against Carmona every single night," Dunn said, "we'll put ourselves in a pretty good position in the end."
Carmona will feel just fine if he does not see Chicago again this year.
In his two outings against the White Sox, Carmona (3-4) has surrendered 18 earned runs over just eight innings for a bloated 20.25 ERA. He has allowed just 16 earned runs across 56 1/3 innings, which equates to a tidy 2.56 ERA, in his other eight starts this season.
His season ERA rose to 4.76 from 3.94 after Thursday's troubles.
A year ago, Carmona went undefeated in three starts against the White Sox.
In light of his latest debacle, Carmona struggled in his search for an explanation.
"Before, I was pitching good against that team," he said. "This year, I don't know what's happened. I'll continue to pitch against every team. Today, I felt good and you saw what happened.
"I can't control that. I'll be ready for next time."