Casey Blake watches his grand slam.
C.C. Sabathia and Casey Blake broke out of the doldrums in a big way Tuesday night in Kansas City. Sabathia, toting a ridiculously hefty 13.50 ERA after four starts, struck out 11 over six shutout innings in his first win. Blake, burdened by a .179 batting average, hit a grand slam and drove in six runs in a 15-1 rout of the Royals. Jhonny Peralta and David Dellucci also homered for Cleveland.
Sabathia (1-3) gave up four singles and two walks in his best performance of the season by far. The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner lowered his ERA to 10.12.
It was great news to a ballclub that really needed it. The Indians had lost eight of 11 and came in dead last in the American League in hitting with a .235 average, and learned earlier Tuesday that one of their most dependable pitchers, Jake Westbrook, will be sidelined two to four weeks.
The right-hander went on the disabled list with a strained muscle in his left rib area. Outfielder Ben Francisco was recalled from Triple-A Buffalo to take Westbrook's roster spot. Francisco, who hit .362 in spring training, but was batting only .208 in 18 games at Buffalo, came on as a defensive replacement in the seventh inning and went 0-for-1, a long flyout to left field.
A year ago, Sabathia went 19-7 with a career-best 3.21 ERA, but was 1-2 with an 8.80 ERA in three postseason starts. He was even worse to open this season, walking 14 in his first 18 innings after issuing only 37 free passes over 241 innings in 34 starts a season ago.
He improved to 14-8 with a 3.38 ERA in 29 career starts against the Royals, including 8-4 in 15 games in Kansas City.
Blake led Cleveland's 17-hit attack, going 4-for-4 with two doubles and his second homer of the season, a fourth-inning grand slam off Kansas City starter Gil Meche. Blake raised his batting average 54 points to .233.
Franklin Gutierrez (.234) went 3-for-5 with two doubles, three RBI and scored three runs. Peralta (.257) went 3-for-4 with a solo homer, his fourth. Dellucci (.275) was 2-for-5 with his second homer.
Jorge Julio (4.50 ERA) pitched a scoreless seventh, walking one, but Jensen Lewis (5.06 ERA) yielded two hits and a run in the eighth.
Rafael Betancourt (4.00 ERA) fanned two and walked one in the ninth.