C.C. Sabathia looks to turn in another solid performance as the Cleveland Indians try to gain some ground in the AL Central in the opener of a a four-game series with the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field.
Sabathia has been consistent throughout the season for the Indians, who are beginning to feel like they are legitimate contenders for the division. The 6-foot-7 left-hander allowed one run and six hits over eight innings to help Cleveland to a 9-1 victory over the New York Mets on Wednesday.
“I’ve been feeling good all year,” said Sabathia, who is 2-0 in his last four starts and leads the rotation with a 2.95 ERA.
“I’ve been exercising a lot and that’s helped my fastball and my stamina. I’ve been able to throw longer and harder in games. I want to be the horse here. I’m a big guy, and I should be able to handle it.”
His performance has not gone unnoticed by Cleveland manager Eric Wedge.
“He’s pitched well all year long, for the most part, without much to show for it,” Wedge said. “But he’s kept us in ballgames. The bottom line for him is to give us a chance to win ballgames and control what he can control, and he’s done a good job of that.”
Sabathia, who is 5-1 with a 5.10 ERA in eight career starts against the White Sox, will try to help the Indians off to a good start in the series. Cleveland is third in the division, trailing first-place Minnesota by 4 1/2 games and Chicago by three.
Cleveland enters the series one game shy of .500 after winning seven of its last 10, including a 5-2 victory over Atlanta on Sunday. Coco Crisp went 3-for-4 with a walk, three stolen bases and three runs scored.
Crisp, playing in center field after Alex Escobar was demoted to Triple-A Buffalo on June 12, is hitting .370 (20 of 54) in June and has a nine-game hitting streak.
Chicago lost two of three to Montreal, as it continues to run hot and cold on offense. After scoring 25 runs in the first two games of the series, the White Sox’s offense sputtered in a 4-2 loss Sunday.
Jose Valentin had three hits, including a solo homer in the seventh, as Chicago finished its road swing 2-4.
“It was an ugly road trip,” Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen said. “It’s a lot of up and down. One day you score a lot, then you need run support and you don’t have any.”