Cleveland ace C.C. Sabathia looks to win his third straight start and build off his best outing of the season as the Indians resume a three-game series with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays at Tropicana Field.
Sabathia has won three of his last four outings, including a dominant performance against the Devil Rays in Cleveland on Aug. 15. The burly left-hander scattered four hits while striking out a season-high nine and walking three in a complete-game 1-0 triumph.
The shutout was the first of Sabathia’s three-year career, and came just 24 hours after Cleveland was blanketed in darkness due to the massive blackout that hit part of the northeastern U.S., Canada, Michigan and Ohio.
“That’s as good as he’s been all season,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said of Sabathia. “He had a lot left, as you could see by the way he pitched in the eighth and ninth innings.”
Sabathia retired 14 of the last 16 batters, and needs two more wins to give him at least 13 in each of his big league seasons.
The Devil Rays have lost three in a row since winning six of eight.
STANDINGS (through Aug. 21): Indians - 4th place, 12 GB, AL Central. Devil Rays - 5th place, 27 1/2 GB, AL East.
INDIANS PROBABLE STARTER: Sabathia (11-7, 3.28 ERA). Sabathia has handled the Devil Rays with relative ease during his career, going 3-0 with a 1.96 ERA in three starts.
DEVIL RAYS PROBABLE STARTER: Rob Bell (3-2, 5.68 ERA). Bell is unbeaten in his last nine starts, but has not received a decision in six of those outings, including Tampa Bay’s 6-4 win at Cleveland on Monday. The right-hander allowed three runs and eight hits, while striking out two and walking none, over 6 1-3 innings. Bell has surrendered three earned runs or fewer in each of his last three outings. He is 1-1 with a 5.33 ERA in five career starts against the Indians.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Indians - Milton Bradley, .321 avg., 56 RBIs and 17 SBs; Blake, 16 HRs and 67 runs. Devil Rays - Aubrey Huff, .303 avg., 21 HRs and 72 RBIs; Rocco Baldelli, 69 runs; Carl Crawford, 41 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Indians, 3-2.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Indians - The Indians are 34-34 when scoring first this season. … OF-DH Matt Lawton is 2-for-11 (.182) career against RHP Bell. … LHP Sabathia is 5-3 with a 4.06 ERA in 11 road starts this year. Devil Rays - 2B Antonio Perez doubled Friday to snap an 0-for-18 drought. … Devil Rays pitchers have hit an AL-high 73 batters. … OF Huff is 5-for-10 career against Sabathia.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Indians - 24-40 on the road; Devil Rays - 29-35 at home.
INJURIES: Indians - C Victor Martinez (ankle), 15-day DL; SS Omar Vizquel (knee), 15-day DL; OF Bradley (back), 15-day DL; RHP Jason Boyd (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Jason Bere (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Dave Elder (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Bob Wickman (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Mark Wohlers (elbow), 60-day DL; INF Ricky Gutierrez (back), 60-day DL; OF Ellis Burks (elbow), 60-day DL. Devil Rays - SS Rey Ordonez (knee), 15-day DL; INF Terry Shumpert (hamstring), 15-day DL; OF Ben Grieve (blood clot), 60-day DL; RHP Seth McClung (elbow), 60-day DL.