C.C. torched; Tigers take series
DETROIT — C.C. Sabathia’s All-Star audition didn’t go as planned. Neither did the Indians’ three-game trip to Comerica Park.
Hoping to offer up a final bid to start the All-Star Game in front of American League manager Jim Leyland on Thursday, Sabathia instead produced his worst effort of the season in a 12-3 shellacking from the Tigers.
The loss all but took Sabathia out of contention to start the Midsummer Classic in San Francisco, near his hometown of Vallejo, Calif., and gave Detroit the series. The Tigers outscored the Indians 18-7 in the final two games after dropping the opener.
“Something I’ve taken pride in is keeping us in the game and I gave us no shot today,” said Sabathia, who was gone after four innings, allowing a season-high seven runs on 10 hits in his shortest outing of the year. “I didn’t have my best stuff but this was a butt-kicking. I’ve got to deal with it and get ready to pitch again.”
The Tigers, who beat the Indians for the fourth time in 10 meetings to pull within a game of Cleveland’s Central Division lead, had their potent lineup ready to roll the moment Sabathia took the mound.
Placido Polanco, the second batter, went deep for one of Detroit’s three homers off Cleveland’s ace. Sabathia left with his team trailing 6-2.
“There’s really no breaks,” Sabathia said of the Tiger lineup. “You have to be on your
A-game, pound the zone and make pitches. I had none of it. Every mistake today was a laser. I had no room for error, and unfortunately, I made a bunch of them.”
Without command of his fastball, Sabathia was no match for the Tigers, who scored four times off him in the fourth — three on a homer from Carlos Guillen, who hit a hanging 1-2 breaking ball over the wall in left-center.
“C.C. was just a little bit off today,” said Cleveland manager Eric Wedge. “Those guys are a good hitting ballclub and they took advantage of it.”
The second through fifth hitters in Detroit’s lineup — Polanco, Gary Sheffield, Magglio Ordonez and Guillen — skewered Cleveland pitching all day. They accounted for nine of the Tigers’ 17 hits, eight of their runs, all of their homers and nine of their 12 RBIs.
Sabathia was outpitched by another All-Star in Justin Verlander, who is also a candidate to start for the AL. He has a no-hitter, a 10-3 record and a 3.14 ERA on his resume.
Like Sabathia, Verlander allowed a first-inning homer — Victor Martinez’s 15th — but unlike Sabathia, he got better as the game wore on.
Verlander allowed three runs — two earned — on six hits, striking out seven through seven innings. The right-hander allowed runs in the first two innings but retired nine of 10 batters in a stretch, including five straight on strikeouts.
“Sometimes you get those pitching matchups that don’t turn out quite how you thought they would,” Detroit’s Leyland said. “Fortunately for us, it turned out our way today.”
Martinez provided the bulk of Cleveland’s offense, going 2-for-3 and driving in two runs.
Detroit broke the game open with a five-run sixth inning off relievers Edward Mujica and Jason Stanford.
The Tigers entered the series trailing the Indians by two games, but trimmed the deficit with one hard-fought win and a blowout. The defending AL champs reasserted themselves after losing their first five meetings with Cleveland.
“I’m not going to make a big deal about it because if we got swept, I wasn’t going to make a big deal about it,” Leyland said. “As long as you’re hanging around, the pennant race usually starts real late in August.”
A rivalry between the clubs is brewing. During the series, Rafael Betancourt was timed and penalized for his slow delivery and Tigers catcher Pudge Rodriguez complained to umpires about Travis Hafner’s spot in the batter’s box.
If they were ploys to intimidate the Indians, they didn’t work, according to Sabathia.
“There’s no intimidation factor at all,” he said. “There’s nobody scared in this clubhouse. We know we can play with these guys.
“It’s definitely intense. It’s becoming a pretty good rivalry.”
One that figures to pick up steam in the second half of the season.
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7137 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHO: Cleveland at Toronto
WHERE: Rogers Centre, Toronto
PITCHERS: Lee (5-4, 4.90) vs. Halladay (9-3, 4.27)
TV/RADIO: STO; WEOL 930-AM, WTAM 1100-AM
Cleveland second baseman Josh Barfield can’t reach a fly ball hit by Detroit’s Craig Monroe that dropped for an RBI single Thursday.