Indians 8, Devil Rays 6
CLEVELAND (AP)—C.C. Sabathia has a dozen reasons why he should start the All-Star game.
“It would be crazy to say he doesn’t deserve it,” Sizemore said. “It’s incredible playing behind him. He gets better every time out.”
Sabathia (12-2) matched last season’s win total and is 7-1 with a 2.62 ERA in his last 10 starts, but says he doesn’t think about winning 20 or even being tabbed for his first All-Star start.
“It feels good to have 12 wins, but feels better to be in first place,” Sabathia said. “The only start I’m concerned with is my next one at Detroit.”
That would be Thursday against the defending AL champion Tigers, who trail the first-place Indians by 1 1/2 games in the Central. A good outing in front of manager Jim Leyland, whose job it is to select the AL’s starter, could sew up Sabathia’s chances.
The Indians won for the fifth time in six games to improve baseball’s best home record to 29-12. The Devil Rays have lost six straight and 13 of 17.
Sabathia, a lock to make his third All-Star team when the clubs are announced Sunday, gave up two earned runs and six hits over seven innings to go to 9-1 in 12 home starts this year. He struck out eight without a walk for the second straight game and third time in June. For the month, he went 4-1 with three walks and 41 strikeouts.
“C.C. controlled the ballgame,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said. “He had to work a little for it tonight, but what he did was pitch.
“He’s been a true No. 1 for a while now. The entire park has a different air when C.C. is pitching. … I’d be in some kind of shock if he didn’t make the All-Star team.”
The Devil Rays threatened in the ninth. After Raul Casanova hit a two-run homer and Dustan Mohr followed with his first since being called up on June 22, Joe Borowski came on to get the final two outs on six pitches for his 23rd save in 25 chances.
“It looked like we had this one put away for C.C., but when the first guy reached, I started stretching,” Borowski said. “When the bat hit the ball on the first homer, I got my glove and was ready in a couple of pitches. It was good to save it for him.”
Sizemore had three hits and put Cleveland ahead with a two-out, two-run single in the second inning against J.P. Howell (1-2). The left-hander allowed five runs and eight hits over 4 1-3 innings.
“I had them down in the count and couldn’t finish them off,” Howell said. “They did a good job of getting back in the count and then hitting good pitches. They’re a tough team.”
The Indians made it 4-0 in the fourth. Josh Barfield got an RBI on a force, stole second and scored on another single by Sizemore.
Sabathia improved to 7-1 in 10 career starts against the Devil Rays and hasn’t lost to them since 2004. He retired 12 of the first 13 he faced until yielding three hits and two runs in the fifth—snapping Tampa Bay’s scoreless streak against the left-hander at Jacobs Field at 31 innings.
“I’ve noticed that C.C. throws more breaking balls now and controls them,” Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. “He used to just throw hard all the time. He doesn’t walk many.”
One run scored on a sacrifice fly by Casanova. Franklin Gutierrez’s wild throw from right field on the play allowed Josh Wilson to go from first to second, where he scored on a single by Mohr. The unearned run made it 4-2.
Travis Hafner’s 13th homer in the bottom half made it 5-2. It was his third homer in six games after going 68 at-bats without one.
Delmon Young doubled off the third-base bag in the sixth and scored on Ty Wigginton’s grounder just out of the reach of shortstop Jhonny Peralta. Sabathia then struck out Jonny Gomes and Jorge Cantu to keep the score 5-3.
Casey Blake singled home two runs and Peralta added another RBI single in Cleveland’s sixth.
The left-hander has allowed 20 runs in 26 2-3 innings over five starts since winning his season debut on June 3.
All 36,726 fans got Sizemore bobbleheads. … Sabathia has walked only 17 and fanned 116 in an AL-leading 129 1-3 innings. … His 12 wins before July 1 are the most by a Cleveland pitcher since Hall of Fame RHP Gaylord Perry was 14-1 in 1974. … The Devil Rays have totaled 16 runs in their six straight losses. … Tampa Bay 1B Carlos Pena, who has 11 homers in 29 career games at Jacobs Field, did not start. He is 3-for-18 (.167) with eight strikeouts lifetime against Sabathia.