Sabathia won for the first time in seven starts this season, allowing four hits and an unearned run in eight innings to lead the Indians over the Texas Rangers 3-1 Sunday.
“They’re going to stay up,” said Sabathia (1-2), who decided to return to the way he wore his socks the last half of 2002—when he went 7-2 with a 2.54 ERA to finish 13-11 for the season.
“After I pitched in Oakland last week, everybody in the family was telling me to wear the socks up, so I did,” he said.
The 22-year-old left-hander, who became the ace of the Indians’ rotation this year, struck out five and walked three, improving to 4-0 in four career starts against Texas. Danys Baez finished with a hitless ninth for his fifth save.
“I didn’t really worry about not having any wins, not at all,” Sabathia said. “I had been pitching OK, but I was more concerned about my team winning than my individual stats.”
Cleveland, which turned two double plays behind Sabathia, had been 0-6 in his starts this season. It was his first victory since last Sept. 27 against Kansas City, and his longest outing since an eight-inning, complete-game loss at Boston last Sept. 17.
“It’s not like I have been giving up eight or nine runs a game,” Sabathia said. “I’ve been trying to shut down the other team and when I got a lead, I knew that was my job against a very difficult lineup.”
Texas had 54 runs, 78 hits and 13 homers in its previous six games.
John Thomson (2-3) lost despite pitching a five-hitter for his first complete game since Sept. 2001.
He retired his first nine batters before Cleveland got three singles, two walks and a sacrifice fly to take a 3-0 lead in the fourth.
“Matt and Omar set the table for us and got the job done,” Burks said. “I think we have been trying to do a little too much. When you do that, you end up not doing anything at all.”
Thomson questioned his approach in the fourth.
“I was throwing fastballs for strikes the first three innings,” the right-hander said. “Then I threw sinkers for balls, falling behind 1-0 and 2-0.
“Why would I try to do something different?” Thomson said as he shrugged his shoulders.
Thomson then threw 26 strikes on 27 pitches during a stretch between the fifth and seventh innings.
It was originally scored a hit by Young and an error sending him to second, but official scorer Hank Kozlowski changed the call after reviewing a videotape of the play following the game. He changed it to a straight error, making the run unearned.
On the next play, Vizquel went deep into the hole at shortstop to field a sharp grounder by Juan Gonzalez and force Everett at second.
It was one of several fine fielding plays in support of Sabathia.
With a runner on in the first, center fielder Garcia raced to the base of the wall in left-center to catch a drive by Gonzalez.
In the seventh, third baseman John McDonald made a diving catch of a line drive to take away a hit from Sierra.
Texas catcher Einar Diaz, who caught Sabathia last season before being dealt to the Rangers in November, said the Indians’ pitcher helped his defense stay sharp.
“He worked quick and threw hard,” said Diaz, who hit into a double play with two on to end the seventh. “His velocity was very good. He showed he canget out of tough innings.”
Texas first baseman Rafael Palmeiro, two homers shy of 500, grounded out as a pinch-hitter for the final out. He did not start because of a bruised right elbow. … The Rangers did not hit a homer for the second straight day, their longest homerless streak this season. … Cleveland won two of three from Texas, its first series win since opening the year in Baltimore by winning two of three. The Indians are 2-7-1 in series. … Cleveland improved to 2-16 whenscoring three runs or fewer.