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Published: Thursday, 10/18/2007

Sabathia eager to put Game 1 loss behind him

AKRON BEACON JOURNAL

CLEVELAND - Whatever caused C.C. Sabathia to lose command of the strike zone in the opener of the American League Championship Series, he gets a second chance tonight, in a game that could send the Indians to the World Series.

It will be a matchup of Sabathia against the Boston Red Sox's top starter, Josh Beckett, with the Indians ahead in the series 3-1.

If the situation and fans' expectations don't create enough stress for Sabathia, there's the failure to give his team a chance to win in Game 1.

"It's going to be loud in here, it's going to be fun," he said. "Everybody is going to be excited. But I've been doing a pretty good job of keeping my emotions under control and staying on an even keel all year. I look to stay calm and not try to overthrow and do too much. I think I'll be fine."

Sabathia gave up eight runs, seven hits, and five walks in 41/3 innings as the Red Sox took the opener 10-3.

"I was disappointed that I wasn't able to keep us in the game," Sabathia said. "That's something I've been able to do all year. I didn't even give us a chance, and that's something that I was definitely disappointed about."

Sabathia was asked if he thinks the Indians are an opportunistic team.

"I guess so," he said. "We just got hot at the right time. It doesn't matter how you play during the season, it matters how you're playing right now."

WHATEVER: Victor Martinez appeared to say something to Manny Ramirez after he raised his arms in triumph and showboated his way around the bases after his home run that trimmed Boston's deficit to 7-3 on Tuesday night.

"No, I didn't say anything to him," Martinez said yesterday. "I just wish I could hit a ball like that. We have too much to worry about to think about stuff like that. Whatever somebody wants to do, I don't really care. I guess Manny was having fun. I'm having fun too."

LESS THAN 100 PERCENT? During the Fox telecast Tuesday, it was reported that Beckett had stiffness in his back following his start in Game 1.

"I don't think I want to get into any medical," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "I think that I kind of alluded the other day after his start that he was - I might have said he was kind of beat up, or it took a toll on him - however I worded it.

"I think I'm just comfortable saying that. I don't feel the need to always reveal every single nick that somebody has or doesn't have. But like I said, it took its toll on him."

IT'S THE PITCHERS: Martinez showed a significantly improved number this year throwing out would-be base stealers - 30 percent - but he deflected the praise.

"I have to give credit to the pitching staff," he said. "They controlled the running game better this year than they have in the last two or three seasons. That gives me a chance to throw guys out."

NO FUN: Wedge caught knuckleball specialist Tim Wakefield when he was in the Red Sox organization in the mid-'90s, initially when he and Wakefield played at Triple-A Pawtucket.

No fan of trying to catch a knuckleball, Wedge said: "I don't even like to play catch. [Pitching coach Carl] Willis will throw it, and when he does, I just quit."

That's no reflection on Wakefield personally. "He's a class act, a great guy," Wedge said.

PERALTA HOT: Jhonny Peralta started the assault for the Tribe in the win Tuesday after Wakefield mowed through the host's lineup for three innings. The shortstop doubled in the fourth before belting an opposite-field, three-run home run off reliever Manny Delcarmen in the Indians' seven-run fifth.

"I feel like I'm on fire right now," Peralta said. "I feel so good. But I'm not trying to do too much."

Both extra-base hits came with two outs.

"That's happened all year, especially a lot when we're at home," he said

It also happened because the Indians' young players have shown a willingness to make the necessary adjustments from game to game.

"I was looking for a fastball away because yesterday, they threw me everything away," Peralta said of his home run.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "You don't get tired in this situation," Indians reliever Rafael Betancourt said after being asked if he was a little weary after having pitched a career-high 86 innings this season. "I want to pitch every game, especially when you're doing your job and helping the team win games."



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