04/11/10 6:36 PM ET
Harden, Carmona have things to prove
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
In their series opener against the Rangers, the Indians will be starting their 2010 home slate against Rich Harden, who no player on their team has more than nine career plate appearances against. Texas, meanwhile, is going toe-to-toe with Fausto Carmona, who the Rangers burned for three wins and 13 runs in 11 2/3 innings while facing him three times last year.
Harden and Carmona each came into the 2010 season with something to prove.
For Harden, it was durability.
The 28-year-old right-hander hasn't topped 150 innings since 2004, and longevity was absent during his first start of the 2010 season, too. Harden only gave up one earned run on one hit against the White Sox on Wednesday, but five walks in just 3 2/3 innings put his pitch count at 90 and didn't allow him to finish the fourth inning.
For Carmona, it's between the ears.
The Indians previously set the 26-year-old right-hander up with a psychologist and mental-skills coach, and in his first start of the new year -- when he got the win after giving up three runs and one hit in six innings -- it seemed to pay dividends. The most telling sign: he kept his composure despite walking six White Sox hitters, which he wasn't very successful at through erratic 2008 and '09 seasons.
Indians ready for more successful home slate
The Indians would love nothing more than to get back to their winning ways at their home ballpark. They'll get a chance to do that starting Monday.
Cleveland plays its first game at Progressive Field when the Indians take on the Rangers in a 3:05 p.m. ET contest. Last year, the Indians went 35-46 at home to finish under .500 in their own ballpark for the first time since '03.
During the first of a three-game series against the Rangers, fans will get their first look at new skipper Manny Acta, among others.
"It is always nice when you get to play your first game of the season at home," Acta said. "But it's going to be fun. We will show our fans that we can be an exciting team, and it will be nice to play in front of them. You always have one chance to make a first impression before your fans."
Harden looks to build on second-half success
Before shutting it down in late September last season because of arm fatigue, Harden posted a 2.55 second-half ERA. But he struggled this spring -- putting up an 8.87 ERA in 22 1/3 Grapefruit League innings -- and didn't really have his command in his Rangers debut.
Still, though, Harden goes into start No. 2 feeling "strong" and "confident," and he believes he just needs to make a couple of adjustments.
"I think just being efficient, and when I'm ahead, putting guys away faster," Harden said of what he needs to improve. "I've got some pitches that we'll see if I can get early contact on and early outs. That's always been key for me, minimizing that one inning of work with a lot of pitches. I tend to throw one inning with 30 pitches with guys fouling them off, and that costs me."
The last time the Indians were above .500, it was the second-to-last day of the 2008 season. ... The Rangers will be undergoing their longest road trip of the season in terms of days, as they'll travel to face the Indians, Yankees and Red Sox for nine games in 11 days. ... Texas, which went 8-1 against the Tribe in '09, is 3-0 in home openers in Cleveland, winning in 1982, 1991 and 2000.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.