Indians notebook: Bruise only damage Angels can do to Tribe

ANDY CALL

 C.C. Sabathia on Sunday showed reporters the badge of honor he had earned Saturday — a large black bruise on the right side of his chest, just below his shoulder.

“That thing caught me flush,” Sabathia said of Howie Kendrick’s eighth-inning line drive, which came three innings after another line-drive had banged off Sabathia’s left leg. “I might have to start wearing a bulletproof vest.”

That proved to be the only damage the Angels were able to inflict, however. Sabathia continued his recent run of success by allowing one run during a complete-game, 6-1 victory that left pitching coach Carl Willis shaking his head a day later.

“It takes some kind of man to take that kind of shot off his chest and not have it even faze him,” Willis said. “He was just a man out there all night, especially when you consider the magnitude of the game and the batting order he was facing.”

Sabathia induced 16 ground-ball outs — an unusually high number, but one that reflects the increased effectiveness of his changeup. Angels hitters were swinging ahead of the pitch or rolling over the ball all evening.

“It’s sure a lot different than my rookie year (2001),” Sabathia said. “I threw 32 fastballs in a row against Baltimore, and I tried to throw all of them 100 mph.”

The Indians had lost the first two games of the Angels series, but Sabathia took charge of stopping that skid from going any further.

“Your No. 1 guy has to be able to stop those bad streaks and keep good ones going,” Indians Manager Eric Wedge said. “When he takes the mound, it’s a different ballgame. He knows it, we know it, our opponent knows it.”

Everyone who checks Sabathia’s statistics should know it. He has allowed two runs or fewer in 10 consecutive starts and has allowed more than four earned runs four times in 31 starts. He came into Sunday tied for the American League lead in victories, leading the league in innings pitched (220) and tied for third in ERA (3.15).

Sounds like a Cy Young Award winner, a possibility Sabathia says he rarely considers.

“That’s really how I feel,” Sabathia said. “Right now, I’m just worried about getting to the playoffs. It’s not tough to not think about (awards) when you’re playing for something. It’s exciting to be in the position we’re in.”

DOUBLE YOUR FUN 

The Indians had turned 150 double plays through Saturday, third-most in the American League. The addition of slick-fielding second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera to the starting lineup has certainly helped. “I had gotten good reports on him defensively (in the minor leagues), but not to the extent of what we’ve seen here,” Manager Eric Wedge said.

ON THE AIR 

The Indians have been a part of ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball 36 times since 1990. Cleveland was 21-14 in those national telecasts entering Sunday’s game against the Angels.

CELEBRATING A MILESTONE 

Wedge, Kenny Lofton and Tom Hamilton are all scheduled to tape video congratulations Tuesday for White Sox slugger Jim Thome, to be played when he reaches 500 career home runs. Thome hit homer No. 498 Sunday.

CELEBRITY WATCH 

Former big-league pitcher Clyde Wright stopped by the press box Sunday. He is the father of Baltimore RHP Jaret Wright, who has been on the disabled list since pitching against the Indians on April 29 with recurring right shoulder soreness.

ON THE FARM 

Double-A Akron advanced to the Eastern League finals with an 8-6 victory Saturday over Erie. Michael Aubrey hit a pair of two-run homers and drove in the winning run as the Aeros won the semifinal series, 3 games to 1. Trenton defeated Portland, 3 games to 1, in the other semifinal series. The Thunder will host Akron on Tuesday and Wednesday in the first two games of the championship series. Games 3, 4 and 5 will be played Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Canal Park.

Reach Repository sports writer Andy Call at (330) 580-8346 or e-mail andy.call@cantonrep.com.