Sabathia missed the first two weeks of the season because of a strained abdominal muscle. However, the 24-year-old left-hander showed no ill effects from the injury in a solid outing against the Minnesota Twins on Sunday.
He gave up one run and five hits in 5 2-3 innings to help the Indians in a 2-1 win. The 6-foot-7, 290-pounder struck out seven but did not receive a decision. He threw 94 pitches, 60 for strikes, while maintaining his speed and efficiency.
“It felt great to go out and earn my paycheck,” said Sabathia, who feels completely recovered from the muscle strain. “I was excited warming up and it carried into the game. This was my opening day.”
Cleveland manager Eric Wedge was thoroughly pleased with the effort from his staff ace.
“He was calm, he was under control, he was confident,” Wedge said. “Obviously, we were trying to keep him at 90 or 94 pitches, but it’s good to know that he was still strong at the end.”
Sabathia looks to continue his recent domination of the Mariners. He struck out eight en route to a five-hitter for his second career shutout in his last outing at Seattle on Sept. 6. He finished 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA in two starts last season at Safeco Field.
The Indians could use a lift after a tough 6-5 loss in 10 innings to the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday. Cleveland built a 5-0 lead with a three-run double by Jose Hernandez and a two-run homer by Ronnie Belliard but allowed the Angels to climb back.
Bob Wickman blew his second save in six chances for Cleveland, which had 13 hits—just their third game this season with 10 or more.
The Mariners were shut out for the first time this season, 3-0 by the Oakland Athletics on Thursday.
Ichiro Suzuki went 1-for-4 on Thursday and is 3-for-16 in his last four games to drop his batting average from .447 to .375.
Seattle, which had won three of its last four games, continues a five-game homestand.