October 23, 2014

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A text-book victory: Indians 5, Athletics 2

C.C. edges hometown Athletics

CLEVELAND — During the game Monday night, C.C. Sabathia used his left arm to earn a rare victory over the Oakland A’s. After the game, the California native used his left hand to get even with all his hometown friends that have been giving him the business for his futility against the Athletics throughout his career.
“I got so many text messages. They’re all A’s fans talking (trash),” said Sabathia, who entered the game with just one win against Oakland and a whopping 6.60 ERA in 11 career starts, but was able to reverse the trend in a 5-2 victory over the A’s. “They say, ‘You’re a good pitcher but the A’s are going to beat you.’ That’s the type of text messages I get from my friends.
“They’ll be getting some tonight.”
The A’s got plenty from Sabathia in his 17th start of the year, with the big left-hander tossing his second complete game of the season, while allowing the two runs on nine hits to win his major league-leading 11th game. It was his first win over Oakland since July 30, 2003.
Sabathia (11-2, 3.24) helped the Indians to their 600th victory at Jacobs Field, which brought them to within a game of Central Division-leading Detroit and strengthened his bid to start for the American League in the upcoming All-Star Game in San Francisco.
“I’ve got two more starts before the break. We can talk about that then,” said Sabathia. “I’m just worried about my next two starts.”
“He’s obviously an All-Star,” said Cleveland manager Eric Wedge. “Those decisions are beyond me.”
It appeared early that the Indians would have to rely on something other than Sabathia to carry them to victory, when the A’s scored twice on six hits through the first two innings. But Sabathia changed his approach after the second and with it went Oakland’s opportunity for its first win in four games.
Sabathia retired 13 straight hitters, beginning with the last batter of the second and allowed just three hits the rest of the way.
“I was just using my fastball more,” Sabathia said. “I threw a lot of off-speed pitches early on and they were on them. When I get the confidence in my fastball, that’s when I’m at my best.”
Oakland hitters agreed.
“That (expletive) was nasty,” said A’s center fielder Mark Kotsay, whom Sabathia struck out to end the game.
The Indians didn’t exactly break out of their recent offensive slump, but they did enough to back Sabathia, scoring three times in six innings off A’s starter Chad Gaudin before adding on against Oakland’s bullpen.
Travis Hafner, one of Cleveland’s biggest slumpers may have taken his first step to emerging from a season-long skid, producing one of his few multi-hit games this season.
Hafner went 2-for-4 with his 11th home run of the year — his first homer since May 31 — hitting a solo shot to score Cleveland’s first run in the second.
“He’s coming,” said Wedge of the team’s top run producer over the past three seasons. “You can see his swing’s coming around. He’s definitely a guy that’s feeling better.”
“I’ve been working really hard and I feel like my swing’s been better lately,” Hafner said. “It was nice to see some results. Sooner or later, the hard work is going to pay off.”
The Indians went ahead for good in the fourth inning via a two-run, two-out rally. Hafner singled and Jhonny Peralta followed with a walk before another of Cleveland’s struggling sluggers, Ryan Garko, drove them in with a double over the head of Kotsay.
Pinch hitter Jason Michaels added some insurance in the eighth inning with a two-run double off former Indians reliever Alan Embree. Still, the story of the game was Sabathia.
“He’s a championship pitcher,” Michaels said. “I’m glad he’s on our side.”
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7137 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com.

TONIGHT
WHO: Cleveland vs. Oakland
TIME: 7:05
WHERE: Jacobs Field
PITCHERS: Lee (4-4,5.46 ERA) vs. Haren (9-2, 1.78)
TV/RADIO: SportsTime Ohio; WEOL 930-AM,WTAM 1100-AM

062607tribe.jpgAP
Cleveland pitcher C.C. Sabathia looks at the scoreboard and leaves the field after striking out the side during the third inning of the Indians’ 5-2 win over the Oakland A’s on Monday at Jacobs Field in Cleveland.