Sabathia pitched his first complete game of the season, beating the Detroit Tigers 4-1 on Wednesday night, his seventh victory in as many starts. The win kept the Indians one-half game behind the wild card-leading New York Yankees, who beat Tampa Bay 5-4 on Wednesday.
“I’ve got four or five more starts, and I have to keep going,” Sabathia said. “We’re still in the race, and I have to give us a chance to win every time I’m out there.”
Casey Blake homered twice as the Indians finished a three-game sweep of the Tigers.
“The story of the night was C.C.—he was outstanding for us again,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said. “Casey hit a couple out and that was all he needed.”
The loss was a season-high seventh straight and 12th in 14 games for Detroit, which scored two runs in being swept by Cleveland.
“We’re just not hitting right now,” Tigers manager Alan Trammell said. “It isn’t that we aren’t trying.”
Sabathia (13-9), who retired the final 21 batters he faced, allowed one run and four hits in his first complete game since Sept. 6, 2004 at Seattle. He struck out 10 and did not walk a batter, throwing 103 pitches, 74 for strikes.
“I felt pretty good out there,” he said. “I got behind a couple guys in the first inning, but after that I just tried to throw strike one. The Tigers have an awesome lineup, and I just didn’t want them to break out against me.”
The bottom five batters in Detroit’s order went 1-for-15 with eight strikeouts.
“He had the best slider I’ve seen him have in four years,” Detroit’s Brandon Inge said. “It looked like a fastball before you swung, then it just dropped.”
Roman Colon (1-1) gave up three runs and five hits in three innings in his first American League start. Colon, acquired from Atlanta on July 31, was 1-2 in four starts with the Braves, and has made 28 relief appearances.
The Tigers, who scored one run in their previous three games, lost a run in the first inning to a baserunning mistake. With one out and the bases loaded, Dmitri Young hit a grounder to second baseman Ronnie Belliard, who tried to tag Magglio Ordonez before throwing to first.
Ordonez ducked out of the base line to avoid the tag and was called out, allowing Belliard to flip to first to complete the double play. If Ordonez had stopped instead of leaving the base line, the Indians would have had to tag him or force him at second, which would have allowed Placido Polanco to score from third.
“That’s just the way things are going for us,” Trammell said. “We could have gotten a run out of it, but we wouldn’t have gotten out of the double play. He tried to curl out of the tag and the umpire made the right call.”
Cleveland took a 3-0 lead in the third on Blake’s solo homer and Travis Hafner’s two-run shot to right.
The Tigers made it 3-1 in the bottom of the inning on Vance Wilson’s third homer of the season.
Blake’s second homer of the game, a hooking drive just inside the left field foul pole, made it 4-1 in the seventh.
“I’m just trying to hit the ball hard,” Blake said. “Sometimes it goes out.”
Cleveland’s Ramon Vazquez hit a rare ground-rule double in the fourth inning, bouncing a long drive over the tall out-of-town scoreboard in right-center. … The crowd of 13,193 was Detroit’s second-smallest of the year, trailing only the 10,463 that saw the Tigers play Kansas City on April 7. … The teams play again Thursday in Cleveland to make up a game rained out last week.