Left-hander struggling in July
The Indians suddenly find themselves concerned with much more about C.C. Sabathia than the size of his next contract.
Sabathia (12-4) was roughed up again Saturday during a 6-5 loss to Kansas City at Jacobs Field. The All-Star left-hander, dominant in June, has been dogmeat in July. He has given up 13 runs on 21 hits over 11 innings in losses to the Tigers and Royals.
“I was just missing on the plate a lot,” said Sabathia, who dug a 5-0 hole through three innings. “When I needed to make a pitch the first couple innings, I made horrible pitches.”
Two of those horrible pitches came to Billy Butler and Emil Brown, resulting in a two-run double and a three-run home run.
“Two swings were five runs,” Cleveland Manager Eric Wedge said. “They did a good job of being aggressive and not missing some pitches.”
Sabathia said there are no mechanical issues to address and no health issues to overcome. That might be encouraging, but it leaves little to explain six runs off him by a Royals team that came into the game ranked next-to-last in the league in slugging percentage and third-from-last in on-base percentage.
“I feel fine, and my mechanics feel good,” Sabathia said. “Maybe I was just missing too many spots.”
Kansas City’s players apparently voted on Opening Day to become the designated burr in Cleveland’s backside all summer. The Indians are 4-4 against the last-place Royals, but 15-6 against everyone else in the Central Division.
“They’re aggressive,” Wedge said. “Jumping on (the first pitch) is one thing, getting to it is another. They did a pretty good job of that tonight.”
The Indians kept pecking away at Kansas City’s early lead, knocking out All-Star right-hander Gil Meche (6-6) after five innings and 100 pitches and giving themselves an opportunity to win.
Grady Sizemore’s one-out double off Royals closer Octavio Dotel in the bottom of the ninth revived hopes of a 28th come-from-behind victory. But, Casey Blake swung at a 3-1 pitch and was retired on a lazy fly ball to left field and Victor Martinez also sent a fly ball to left, finishing off Dotel’s ninth save.
Ryan Garko’s two-run home run off Meche was his 10th, giving the Indians six players in double figures. Cleveland leads the league with 110 homers.
Martinez and Trot Nixon contributed RBI singles and Martinez’s seventh-inning double was followed by Travis Hafner’s sacrifice fly.
The Indians lent Kansas City a helping hand in the seventh. Blake charged in to grab Butler’s chopper, but elected instead to cut down Royals baserunner Mark Teahen at third. The ball skipped past shortstop Jhonny Peralta and into foul territory, allowing Teahen to score and the Royals to widen their lead from 5-4 to 6-4.
“|I heard Jhonny calling for it,” Blake said. “I turned around and, as soon as I did, I felt obligated to throw it. I should have gone to first and made them work for a run instead of giving it to them. It was an aggressive play, but a pretty stupid play.”
The Indians will try to salvage the series today. The Indians have lost just one three-game series at home all season, to Atlanta on June 15-17.
Reach Canton Repository sports writer Andy Call at (330) 580-8346 or e-mail email@example.com.