Coming off one of the worst outings of his career, Westbrook will again try for his first victory of the season and help Cleveland avoid losing a series to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays when the teams close out a three-game set Sunday at Tropicana Field.
Four days after he was given a $33 million, three-year contract extension, Westbrook (0-2, 12.08 ERA), allowed eight runs and eight hits in 1 2-3 innings in Cleveland’s 10-3 loss to the New York Yankees on Tuesday.
“The contract wasn’t in my mind at all. My focus was on getting those guys out, and I just didn’t do it,” said Westbrook, a 15-game winner each of the last two seasons who’s allowed 17 earned runs and 20 hits in 12 2-3 innings in 2007.
The right-hander also has allowed five home runs in three starts. He gave up 15 in 32 starts in 2006.
“That’s kind of disturbing,” Westbrook told the Indians’ official Web site. “It’s just a matter of figuring it out. I’ve got to get my sinker down in the zone and get ahead. I can’t pitch from behind in the count.”
His most recent loss was his shortest outing not due to rain or injury since going 1 2-3 innings against the Chicago White Sox on June 17, 2000 while with the Yankees.
Westbrook will try to help Cleveland (7-7) avoid dropping its second straight series after the Indians lost 6-5 to the Devil Rays on Saturday and fell to 1-4 on its six-game road trip. He is 5-2 with a 4.21 ERA in nine starts against the Devil Rays (7-10) and has won his last three outings against them.
Cleveland’s Travis Hafner went 1-for-4 with a three-run homer Saturday, the sixth straight game in which he’s homered in Tampa. Hafner, who is 12-for-19 (.632) in his last five games, has nine homers and 19 RBIs in 55 career at-bats at Tampa Bay.
“We got lucky a couple times,” Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said of Hafner’s night.
Ty Wigginton went 3-for-4 with two runs scored and a homer and Ben Zobrist added two RBIs for Tampa Bay on Saturday. Zobrist broke a 5-5 tie in the sixth with an RBI groundout and the Tampa Bay bullpen allowed just two hits in three innings to give the Devil Rays their second win in five games.
The Indians failed to score after loading the bases with two outs in the eighth. Cleveland is 1-for-18 with the bases loaded this season.
“We’ve got to make sure it stays fundamental and doesn’t become mental,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said.
James Shields (1-0, 5.40 ERA) will make his first appearance against the Indians in the finale. The right-hander allowed five runs and nine hits in 6 1-3 innings in a 9-7 loss to Baltimore on Monday.
“I didn’t pitch well when it counted,” Shields said of his last outing.