OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—Dana Eveland spent the first 11 days of the season as an nervous spectator, watching the Oakland Athletics open the season with two games in Japan and return for three games in the United States before he got his first chance with his new team.
Eveland made sure the wait was worthwhile, allowing only one run in seven innings Saturday to beat the Cleveland Indians 6-1 in his Oakland debut.
Because of the break following the Japan trip, Joe Blanton and Rich Harden each started twice before Eveland got his first chance to show that the A’s received something worthwhile in return when they shipped ace Dan Haren to Arizona in the offseason.
“It feels like I’ve been getting anxious for a while,” Eveland said. “Sitting around I got to see Joe pitch and Rich pitch twice and finally I get my opportunity. It was nice to finally get on the mound and pitch for real when it counts.”
Eveland got plenty of support. Jack Cust hit a two-run double in a three-run first inning and Mark Ellis homered and drove in three runs as Oakland roughed up Cleveland ace C.C. Sabathia in another disappointing homecoming.
Sabathia (0-1), a native of nearby Vallejo, fell to 1-4 with a 7.12 ERA in eight career starts in Oakland. Sabathia’s lone win at the Coliseum came in July 2003, one of the few places he hasn’t had success in his eight seasons in the majors.
Sabathia, the reigning AL Cy Young winner, gave up four runs, six hits, and four walks in 5 1-3 innings and has a 7.59 ERA after two starts this season. He allowed three runs in the opening inning as Cleveland lost for the 18th time in its last 24 games in Oakland.
“They always do a good job making you throw pitches,” Sabathia said. “Today they didn’t even have to. I wasn’t close. It was one of those days.”
Eveland (1-0) had been 0-3 with a 9.33 ERA in six career starts for Milwaukee and Arizona, never lasting longer than 5 2-3 innings or allowing fewer than four runs. He bettered both of those marks against the Indians, backing up the strong spring training that earned him a spot in Oakland’s rotation.
After allowing doubles to Asdrubal Cabrera and Travis Hafner that plated a run in the first inning, Eveland settled down and gave up just four additional hits in his final six frames. He tied a career high with seven strikeouts and walked only one, getting a warm ovation when he walked off the mound following the seventh inning.
“He showed everything you would really want,” manager Bob Geren said. “He showed the velocity, the breaking ball and the ability to pitch behind in the count. That’s a good sign.”
The Indians once again struggled offensively without All-Star catcher Victor Martinez, who has been out since injuring his hamstring on opening day. Cleveland has scored five runs the past three games.
“It’s obviously a different lineup,” manager Eric Wedge said. “But you’re going to have a player down and everyone needs to pick up the slack. You can’t wait for him to come back. Everyone has to step up. What I’m concerned about is the quality of our at-bats.”
Daric Barton, who had three hits, started it with a one-out triple and scored on Emil Brown’s single. Then with runners on first and second and two outs, Cust hit a ball down the left-field line that drove in two runs. Cust has driven in 21 runs in 12 career games against Cleveland.
Ellis hit a solo homer in the fifth, snapping a career-worst 0-for-18 stretch since homering in his first at-bat of the season against Boston’s Daisuke Matsuzaka in Japan.
“I felt like Rob Deer for a minute,” Ellis said, referring to the all-or-nothing slugger who played in the 1980s and ’90s.
Ellis added a two-run single in the eighth off Rafael Betancourt.
Sabathia is 2-6 with a 6.04 ERA in his career against Oakland. … A’s 3B Donnie Murphy left the game with a sprained middle right finger after colliding with Cust on Hafner’s flyout to shallow left to end the third inning. … Oakland RF Travis Buck got the day off against the tough left-hander Sabathia. Buck is 0-for-18 with nine Ks this season.
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