CLEVELAND - If there were no bigger picture here, what C.C. Sabathia accomplished last night was special on its own.
A shutout, his first this season, gave the Indians a 2-0 win over Oakland that catapulted the Tribe into first place in the American League Central.
But there's something going on with Cleveland's starting pitchers that is much larger than the 6-foot-7, 290-pound Sabathia.
After some re-crunching of the numbers, the Indians' public relations staff has determined that Cleveland starters have not allowed a run in their last 431/3 innings, the pitching staff's longest streak since it went 47 innings without giving up a run in 1948 - the last time the Indians won the World Series.
Ladies and gentlemen, that was exactly 60 years ago.
"I've never seen anything like it," said Cleveland center fielder Grady Sizemore, who homered to lead off the Indians' first
"Offensively, we want to get on the board and help these guys out, but they're taking matters into their own hands right now."
The Indians have shut out the Athletics twice in as many nights for the first time since April 25-26, 1966.
Back then the A's played in Kansas City.
Cleveland has five shutouts in its last eight games and a major league-best seven blank slates this year.
"The offense hasn't been scoring a ton of runs lately, but it's not hard to score just enough for these guys," third baseman Casey Blake said.
Sabathia's shutout was remarkable because of who it came against. Oakland pounded him in two previous games this year (14 earned runs on 18 hits), and Sabathia entered last night's contest 2-7 with a 6.84 ERA lifetime against his hometown team.
Last night, the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner and upcoming free agent equaled a season high with 11 strikeouts and scattered five hits.
"That's the Cy Young
Sabathia," Oakland first baseman Mike Sweeney said.
"If he pitches like that the rest of the year, the contract [Mets pitcher Johan] Santana signed [six years, $137.5 million] will look cheap."
As Blake said, the Indians aren't exactly bludgeoning opposing pitchers. Sizemore hit his third leadoff homer this year and 14th of his career, and Ryan Garko added his second homer this series in the fourth inning.
Both Cleveland blasts came against A's starter Joe Blanton and accounted for two-fifths of the team's hits.
Jhonny Peralta provided two hits by himself, snapping an 0-for-15 skid.
Indians manager Eric Wedge said what his starting pitchers are doing right now is "pretty special stuff," and that all they're asked to do is keep the team in the game.
A reporter suggested to
Sabathia last night that keeping the Indians' offense "in it" means shutting out the opponent.
"It's tough to go out there and think that you need to only give up one run or two runs," he said. "Whatever the score is, you just try to keep it close and hopefully we can pull it out at the end."
Starters Aaron Laffey, Fausto Carmona, Cliff Lee, Paul Byrd, and Sabathia have all posted only zeroes in their latest outings. The Indians are 4-1 in this stretch.
From any angle, that's tough to do.
Contact Joe Vardon at: email@example.com or 419-410-5055.41.50436 -81.69046