Tribe’s Past Haunts them Again, Drops Ninth Straight; Yankees 3, Indians 1
By Steve Eby
With old friends like the Indians have, who needs enemies?
Last Saturday, Bartolo Colon bested his old team by giving up one run in eight innings of work in Oakland’s 8-5 victory. The next day, Coco Crisp went 3-5 with a three-run homerun and five RBI in the A’s 7-0 win. On Friday night, CC Sabathia became the third Indian alumni to dominate is former team in a week by tossing 7.1 innings allowing only one run on four hits and striking out nine in a 3-1 Yankees victory. The loss is the ninth straight and 22nd in 26 games for the freefalling Indians.
Sabathia was making his first start since being activated from the 15-day DL and pitched brilliantly as has become the norm for the big lefty. Since the Indians traded him away four years ago, CC has won 83 games, been named to three All-Star teams and won a World Series. Carston Charles has led the league in wins twice, finished in the top five in the Cy Young voting each season and has also gained MVP votes each year as well. The Indians main player that they received in the deal with the Milwaukee Brewers was in the lineup on Friday night for the first time since June 6, as first baseman Matt LaPorta was called up from Columbus to face the Yankees.
“There’s an opportunity in front of him,” Tribe Executive VP and GM Chris Antonetti said of LaPorta. “Now it’s incumbent upon Matt to go out and earn additional opportunities.”
“He deserves and we deserve to give him an extended look the rest of the year,” Tribe manager Manny Acta said. “I’m not one to use (the words) ‘final (chance)’ on a kid who’s not even 30 years old. We’ll see how things go in this game. We’re going to take a look at him and see how things go from there.”
The Tribe countered their former Cy Young winner with their young right hander Corey Kluber. Kluber, like LaPorta, is another young player who is getting an extended look. “We like his stuff,” Acta said. “We feel he has the stuff to do well up here.”
Early in the game, Kluber’s “stuff” did not yield great results as the Yankees hit him hard early; a disturbing reputation that the Tribe’s rookie starter is earning. Going into Friday’s game, Kluber had allowed 13 earned runs; 10 of which had been given up in the first inning. His ERA in the first inning was 22.50 and opponents had batted an astonishing .500 against him. Kluber’s first-frame struggles continued when Derek Jeter and Nick Swisher opened the game with back to back doubles to the right-centerfield gap, giving the Yanks an early 1-0 lead. Kluber then loaded the bases with only one out, but struck out Eric Chavez and got Russell Martin to fly out to leave them loaded and escape with only giving up the one run.
Kluber’s Houdini-act continued in the second when the Yankees once again loaded the bases with one out. Ichiro Suzuki started the rally with a one out single which was followed by a scary moment when Kluber hit Jeter with a fastball on the brim of the helmet to put two furious runners at first and second. A walk to Swisher loaded them up, but Kluber escaped when Robinson Cano bounced into a 4-6-3 double play.
Sabathia, meanwhile, was cruising through the anemic Indians lineup, not allowing a base runner through the first 10 batters of the game. With one out in the bottom of the fourth inning, the 11th batter finally locked in on the big southpaw. Asdrubal Cabrera got ahead 1-0 in the count when Sabathia’s blazing fastball just missed the small of the Tribe shortstop’s back. With Sabathia presumably throwing at Cabrera and sticking up for Jeter, both benches were warned. Not thrilled with Sabathia choosing to wait to throw at him, Cabrera tied the score on the next pitch with a rocket over the centerfield wall for Asdrubal’s 14th homerun of the season.
Kluber’s night ended with a no decision, as he was pulled to start the sixth inning with the score tied 1-1. The rookie danced in and out of trouble as he worked five innings allowing five hits, three walks and one hit by pitch, but only allowed one run. Tony Sipp relieved him and worked a scoreless sixth. As the Yankees were frustrated by their inability to get a big hit off of Kluber, the Indians were having similar frustrations with Sabathia.
The Tribe loaded the bases with two outs in the fifth when LaPorta and Shelley Duncan singled and Jason Donald was hit by a pitch but were unable to score. They also threatened in the sixth, as Cabrera walked and moved to third on a one out single by Carlos Santana. Sabathia was able shut the door on the Tribe rally again, ironically striking out the two key players that he was traded for in Michael Brantley and LaPorta. Having gotten an emotional boost from their ace, the Yankees finally got their big hit off of Cody Allen in the top of the seventh.
Jeter led off the inning with an infield single that Cabrera fielded cleanly, then went to second when Asdrubal’s throw skipped past LaPorta into the Yankee dugout. Swisher followed the error by blasting a two run homerun into the right field seats to give the Bronx Bombers a 3-1 lead. The runs were the first given up in the young 13 game career for Allen and ultimately proved to be the back-breaker for the Tribe as Sabathia and the New York bullpen shut out the woeful Indians offense for the remainder of the game.
The Tribe hitters were able to put together a “rally” in the ninth against Yankee closer Rafael Soriano. Santana led off the inning with a single and moved to third on a single by the next batter, Brantley. Brantley moved to second on a wild pitch, putting the potential tying run at second with nobody out. LaPorta followed with a strikeout and pinch hitter Ezequiel Carrera popped out to bring up another pinch hitter, Casey Kotchman. Kotchman was walked intentionally before the third straight pinch hitter, Jack Hannahan, grounded to Teixeira to end the game and secure the save for Soriano; his 32nd of the season.
With the win, Sabathia (13-3) became the pitcher with the most wins in Jacobs/Progressive Field history. His 51st victory in Cleveland’s beautiful ballpark passed Charles Nagy for first place on the stadium’s all-time list.
Photo: Phil Long/AP