05/14/08 11:30 PM ET
Surging Sabathia shuts out Athletics
Lefty extends Tribe starters' scoreless streak to 43 1/3 innings
By Anthony Castrovince / MLB.com
Turning it on
| Wednesday was the Indians' seventh shutout, best in the Majors|
The Indians have thrown back-to-back shutouts and have shut out their opponent in four of the past five and five of the past eight games
The key, Sabathia said, was his cutter -- a pitch whose unpredictability in the early going this season had helped lead to four brutal outings from the big left-hander.Ever since Sabathia regained command of the cutter, particularly against right-handed hitters, he's been cruising. He has a 1.49 ERA over his past five starts, lowering his season ERA from 13.50 to 5.47. Manager Eric Wedge was impressed with the way Sabathia, who reached double digits in strikeouts for the 13th time in his career, put the A's away in this one. "With any pitcher, getting to two strikes is one thing," Wedge said. "But finishing them off ... that's where real discipline comes into play. You've got to fight a little more." Wedge thought his offense put up a pretty good fight against A's starter Joe Blanton, even if the results didn't say so. Blanton only allowed four hits and two walks in seven innings. Two of those hits were loud ones, though, and they were enough to support Sabathia's strong start. Sizemore led off the bottom of the first with a 393-foot blast to the opposite field. "You like to get on the board early," Sizemore said. "If you can get on early and build momentum, it always helps. We didn't get on the board and run away with it, but C.C. didn't need much help." Still, Sabathia got just a little more help in the fourth, when Ryan Garko went deep for the second time in as many games with a solo shot to left. And that was all the Indians' bats, following a season-long trend, had to offer. In fact, they were unable to strike with the bases loaded and none out in the fifth. If the starting staff has needed particular incentive to keep this run going, it need look no further than the offense's .200 average (76-for-381) in the month of May and .235 average overall. "We haven't been scoring a lot of runs," Sabathia said, "so we need to shut it down, and we've been able to do that." They're doing that, Sabathia said, without thinking about the streak, even if that mind-set flies in the face of human nature. "I don't think anybody's aware of us not giving up a run," Sabathia said of his mates in the rotation. "I think we're aware of how good we are. We've got a pretty good starting staff in here. If we do what we do, these types of things happen." And if this ridiculous run keeps happening, no one will be "that guy."
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.