Sabathia looks to bounce back and become baseball’s first 13-game winner as the Indians continue their three-game series with the Kansas City Royals on Saturday.
Sabathia (12-3, 3.58 ERA) has been vital to Cleveland’s resurgence this season, with the Indians (53-36) going 15-4 in his starts. The big left-hander is tied with Boston’s Josh Beckett for the major league lead in wins and is fifth in the AL in strikeouts (119).
Sabathia, who grew up in the Bay Area, helped the AL to a 5-4 victory in Tuesday’s All-Star game in San Francisco, pitching a scoreless inning of relief. That performance, however, followed an ugly outing against Detroit on July 5, when he gave up a season-high seven runs and 10 hits - including three home runs - in a season-low four innings of a 12-3 loss.
“It was a butt-kicking,” he told the team’s official Web site. “I’ve got to deal with it and be ready to pitch the next time.”
He’ll try to do that by taking advantage of a favorable matchup, as he faces the Royals (38-51) at Jacobs Field.
The seven-year veteran is 12-6 with a 3.14 ERA in 24 games against Kansas City and has won his last four decisions against them, posting a 2.05 ERA in those six contests. In his only start against the Royals this season, he allowed five hits and struck out eight in a complete-game 1-0 home victory June 5.
Sabathia is 6-3 with a 1.76 ERA in 12 home starts against Kansas City, and in the last three of those games has allowed one run in 25 innings en route to a 2-0 mark.
Sabathia is 9-1 with a 3.01 ERA in 12 games at Jacobs Field this season, with Cleveland winning 11 of them.
The Indians have the best home record in the majors at 32-12 and have won nine of their last 10 at Jacobs, where they play 15 of their next 19 games.
Cleveland took Friday’s series opener 5-4, as Ryan Garko singled home the winning run with one out in the ninth inning. Garko also doubled and is batting .385 (10-for-26) with six doubles during a seven-game hitting streak.
The Royals lost for just the fifth time in 14 games, but they’re 3-14 in Cleveland dating to 2005.
“We refuse to be aggressive offensively,” manager Buddy Bell said. “It’s driving me crazy.”
Kansas City’s lone All-Star Gil Meche (5-6, 3.54) will also be looking to rebound from a rough outing when he takes the mound Saturday.
Meche, who did not pitch in Tuesday’s midsummer classic, yielded six runs, five hits and four walks in six innings of an 8-7 win over Tampa Bay last Saturday. He did not get the decision.
This will be the right-hander’s first start of the season against the Indians, who have frustrated him throughout his career. Meche is 1-6 with a 5.69 ERA in nine starts against them and has not defeated them since 2003. In his only start against Cleveland last season, he gave up five runs and seven hits in four innings of an 11-9 Seattle loss April 12, 2006.