Sabathia (4-1, 1.52 ERA) tossed a three-hitter with nine strikeouts and only one walk in Cleveland’s 4-1 victory over Pittsburgh on May 19, and followed that up five days later by allowing six hits with eight strikeouts and no walks in an 11-0 win over Minnesota.
It was the left-hander’s third career shutout and first since Sept. 6, 2004, at Seattle.
“It just seems like he’s not even trying out there,” Indians outfielder Casey Blake said. “It’s like he’s playing with the hitters and doing whatever he wants to do.”
Sabathia will make his third start of the season against the White Sox (33-17), looking for their third straight win after a postgame tirade by manager Ozzie Guillen on Saturday. Sabathia left after 2 1-3 innings of Cleveland’s 10-4 loss to Chicago on April 2 and missed a month with a strained oblique muscle.
He came off the disabled list on May 2, and earned the win after holding Chicago to a run and five hits over five innings of a 7-1 victory. Sabathia is 9-3 with a 4.28 ERA in 16 starts against the White Sox.
Thome, meanwhile, homered twice and drove in four runs against his former team in Chicago’s 11-0 victory in the series opener on Monday. He leads the AL with 20 homers and 49 RBIs.
Thome hit a Cleveland record 334 homers—including 176 at Jacobs Field— before signing with Philadelphia after the 2002 season.
“It adds to the list of the wonderful things that have happened here,” Thome said after recording his 36th multihomer game. “It’s special because you help your club win. You try to lock in the game and do what you have to do. You try not to let the distractions bother you.”
Mark Buehrle (6-2, 2.62) looks to continue his recent dominance when he takes the mound for Chicago on Tuesday. The left-hander is 3-0 with a 0.41 ERA in his last three starts and has not allowed an earned run in his last 21 innings.
Buehrle allowed six hits in seven innings of the White Sox’s 3-2 victory over Oakland on Wednesday. He is 7-8 with a 4.53 ERA in 22 games against Cleveland.
The Indians (24-26) may be without starting third baseman Aaron Boone after he suffered a mild concussion when he tumbled into the photographer’s box while trying to catch a foul ball in the third inning Monday.
“He was alert,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said. “He’s a gamer. He wanted to go back out there. We hope he’s okay.”