Indians 4, Twins 3
CLEVELAND (AP)—C.C. Sabathia didn’t hide his emotions and didn’t want to. He may be about to become a first-time father, but he’s got no love for these Twins.
The Twins are trying to repeat as AL Central champions, but not if Sabathia can help it.
“Anybody but Minnesota,” he said. “I got friends over in that locker room, but we battle on the field.”
Sabathia (13-8) allowed two runs and six hits in 6 2-3 in innings. The left-hander took the mound while his wife, Amber, awaited the birth of the couple’s first child. She was due on Wednesday.
Also, Sabathia’s father has been ill, causing the 23-year-old to leave the Indians to be with him. Yet despite the distractions, Sabathia was locked in on the Twins, whose only runs off him came on Torii Hunter’s homer in the fourth.
On his walk back to the dugout after being replaced in the seventh, Sabathia pointed to his father, C.C., who has improved enough to travel to Cleveland.
“My emotions were really high tonight,” he said. “We got a baby on the way and my dad’s doing better. So things are OK right now.”
Hunter also saved two runs, robbing Casey Blake of a two-run homer in the seventh with a leaping catch against the wall in deep center
Minnesota, coming off two big wins against the White Sox, failed to hold a two-run lead and remained tied with Chicago for first place in the AL Central. The White Sox lost 7-4 in Boston.
“The series in Chicago was intense. I guess some guys came to Cleveland and relaxed,” Hunter said. “You can’t relax against them. They’ve got a good club. They want to kick some butt. Can’t you tell?”
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire agreed with Hunter’s assessment that his team was flat.
“It’s a disappointing loss,” he said. “We didn’t execute well fundamentally. We made some mistakes pitching.”
Peralta’s fourth homer in the fifth gave the Indians a 3-2 lead off Kenny Rogers (11-8), who limited Cleveland to two singles through the first four innings.
Once he got the lead, Sabathia didn’t give it up.
In the sixth, he broke Hunter’s bat on a grounder to second and then struck out A.J. Pierzynski and Dustan Mohr. Sabathia began to, ahem, labor in the seventh and left after giving up a two-out walk to Jon Ford and Doug Mientkiewicz’s single.
“He put it into another gear,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said of Sabathia. “He made tough pitches when he had to.”
Danys Baez got out of the seventh by retiring Matt LeCroy on a fly to right to end the inning. Baez worked the eighth, and David Riske gave up an RBI single to Shannon Stewart in the ninth before getting his seventh save.
The Indians made it 4-2 and chased Rogers in the sixth on Martinez’s RBI single.
Hunter, who has sparred with Indians the past two seasons, hit his 24th homer in the fourth to give the Twins a 2-0 lead.
LeCroy walked leading off, and one out later, Hunter hammered Sabathia’s 2-2pitch over the wall in left-center for his first homer in 62 at-bats.
The Akron Aeros, Cleveland’s Double-A affiliate, won the Eastern League championship Friday night over New Haven (Toronto). … Sabathia had his start pushed back from Wednesday after he came down with a suspected case of food poisoning. … Jesse Orosco relieved Rogers in the sixth, hit Hafner was his only pitch and was taken out. … Twins LHP Eric Milton will make his first start of the season on Sunday. Milton, who went 13-9 a year ago, has beensidelined since knee surgery in March.