The Cleveland Indians furious playoff march to an AL Central crown has hit a speed bump.
Cleveland has fallen three games behind the first-place Chicago White Sox with four to play.
Seth McClung pitched eight shutout innings as the Devil Rays beat Cleveland for the fifth straight time, 1-0 on Wednesday.
McClung allowed four hits and only two runners to reach second base while outpitching Cliff Lee and handing Cleveland its first three-game slide since being swept by the Devil Rays on Aug. 12-14.
The second-place Indians, who trailed the White Sox by 15 games on Aug. 1, host Chicago for three games to end the regular season. But by Friday, it might not matter who they play or where.
“It’s still in our hands,” said Lee, who lost for the first time since July 8. “It’s just going to be a little tougher.”
Despite the loss, the Indians stayed tied for the wild-card lead with Boston, which lost 7-2 to Toronto.
Sabathia heads into Thursday’s game with eight wins in his last 10 starts to up his record to 14-10 on the season. The tall left-hander has been dominant against Tampa Bay, going 5-1 with a 2.72 ERA in six career starts against the Devil Rays.
The Devil Rays have won six of their last nine games.
Outfielder Carl Crawford wasn’t in the starting lineup because of a sore left wrist and remains six hits shy of becoming the first Devil Rays player to reach 200 for a season. He’s also four hits from Aubrey Huff’s club record of 198 set in 2003.
Crawford is leading the team with a.301 batting average, 101 runs scored and 46 stolen bases.