Sabathia wins 12th, looks like All-Star
CLEVELAND — C.C. Sabathia has one more start before the All-Star break, coming Thursday at Detroit. His next start would fall July 10, the date of the All-Star Game in San Francisco.
Coincidence or not?
Sabathia, one of the top candidates to start for the American League in the Midsummer Classic, strengthened his bid Saturday night with another sparkling performance in an 8-6 victory over the sagging Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
He became the majors’ first 12-game winner by allowing just two earned runs on six hits, striking out eight through seven innings. He provided more proof — at least to his teammates — that he deserves the starting All-Star nod.
“I think you’d be crazy to say he doesn’t,” said Cleveland center fielder Grady Sizemore, the Indians’ lone All-Star representative last year in Pittsburgh. “I haven’t seen anyone do anything to stop him. He just goes out there and dominates.
“It’s incredible to see what he’s doing. It seems like he gets better every time he goes out there.”
Sizemore will get no arguments from Tampa Bay hitters, who went scoreless on just one hit through the first four innings off Sabathia, who retired the first seven batters. He allowed two runs in the fifth — one unearned — and a run in the sixth but finished strong, retiring the last five hitters he faced, four on strikeouts.
It was the continuation of a banner season for Sabathia, who is five wins from reaching his career-high victory total of 17, achieved during his rookie season in 2001.
He has been especially effective in June, when he has gone 4-1 with a 2.23 ERA in six starts, allowing just 12 earned runs and three walks, while striking out 41 batters over 48 1/3 innings (an average of just over eight innings per start).
“It feels good but it feels even better for us to be in first place right now,” said Sabathia, whose team got its fourth win in five games to pull 1½ games ahead of Detroit for the top spot in the Central Division. “I feel pretty good about (making the All-Star team). My next start is in Detroit. After that, I can talk about (starting in the All-Star Game).”
“I would be some kind of shocked if he didn’t (make the All-Star team),” said Cleveland manager Eric Wedge. “(Starting) is beyond everybody’s control.
“He’s a true No. 1. He has been a true No. 1 for a while now. If we’re going through a tough stretch, he’s the one you want out there to stop it. If we’re going good, he’s the one you want out there to keep it going.”
Cleveland hitters backed Sabathia early with four runs through the first four innings off Devil Rays starter J.P. Howell, who allowed five runs on eight hits through 4 1/3 innings, leaving after Travis Hafner put the Indians on top 4-0 with his 15th homer.
Sizemore got the Indians started by dumping a bloop single into center to score the first two runs in the second inning.
“That was real big, probably our biggest hit in the ballgame,” Wedge said. “That turns things around early and gives it a different feel for us.”
Sizemore was one of five players to enjoy multihit games for the Indians, who outhit Tampa Bay 15-9. He and Victor Martinez had three hits apiece, with Martinez collecting a pair of doubles.
Jason Michaels, who entered the game riding an 11-game hitting streak, was the only player in the lineup without a hit.
The Indians haven’t erupted on offense as of late, but they’ve done enough to back the solid starting pitching.
“We haven’t hit the ball like we’d like to, but we’re still scoring runs,” Sizemore said.
The Devil Rays made it respectable with three runs in the ninth inning off left-hander Rafael Perez, who allowed back-to-back homers to Raul Casanova and Dustan Mohr.
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7137 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHO: Cleveland vs. Tampa Bay
TIME: 1:05 p.m.
WHERE: Jacobs Field
PITCHERS: Lee (4-4, 5.37) vs. Shields (6-3, 3.81)
TV/RADIO: SportsTime Ohio; WEOL 930-AM, WTAM 1100-AM