Sabathia found his groove with 11 strikeouts and the Indians pounded out 17 hits in a 15-1 rout of Kansas City on Tuesday night.
"We had it going tonight in all areas of the game," said Casey Blake, who was 4-for-4 with six RBI. "It seemed like C.C. set the tone out there. He was C.C. tonight. And we just had a lot of guys swing the bat really well."
"Individually and collectively, everyone needed a night like this," said Blake. "It does wonders for your confidence."
The most encouraging sight for the Indians was Sabathia (1-3), who went six innings and gave up only four hits and two walks. Mark Teahen and Jose Guillen each struck out three times against the reigning Cy Young Award winner who'd been struggling terribly.
"It definitely feels good to have a start like this," said Sabathia. "I just want to keep going out and keep building off this."
It was the 12th time he's had double-digit strikeouts.
"Who cares at this point?" he said. "I just wanted to have a good start. Who cares? That's how I feel."
Gil Meche (1-3) lasted just 3 1/3 innings as his ERA ballooned to 8.00 and the Royals lost their fifth straight. The right-hander gave up eight runs on nine hits, had one walk and two strikeouts in his shortest outing of the year.
"I wish I could pinpoint one thing that I'm doing," said Meche. "The body feels good. The arm feels fine. I'm just not making pitches when I have to. I'm not getting ground balls when I have to get a double play."
Sabathia struck out the side in each of the first two innings while also giving up three singles. He gave up another single to David DeJesus leading off the third, got a double-play grounder from Mark Grudzielanek and then fanned Teahen for the second time.
Sabathia was in trouble in the first, with runners at the corners and two out, but got Guillen to chase a 2-2 pitch. Guillen, the right-fielder who was signed to a three-year, $36 million contract to put some pop in a weak lineup, was 0-for-4 with four strikeouts. He's batting .165 with one home run and nine RBI.
The Royals had 13 strikeouts altogether.
Blake picked up his fifth RBI with a double off Joel Peralta in the fifth. Needing a triple for the cycle in his last at-bat, he lashed a hard liner off Yasuhiko Yabuta that bounced off the fence in left. But Teahen quickly retrieved the ball and threw it back toward the infield and Blake pulled up at second. He and several other position players were replaced starting the seventh.
"I ran hard out of the box just in case it did something funny," Blake said. "But I didn't think there was any chance for it."
Manager Eric Wedge could see there was no chance to try for third, and was not surprised that Blake didn't.
"That would be disrespecting the game because that would be more of an individual thing," Wedge said. "That's not what Casey's all about, not what we're all about. That was a double and it wasn't going to be any more than that."
The Indians loaded the bases in the fifth on singles by Jhonny Peralta and Asdrubal Cabrera and what appeared to be an attempted sacrifice by Gutierrez that went for an infield single. Blake then hammered Meche's 2-0 pitch over the left-field fence for his fourth career grand slam. One out later, Dellucci homered, chasing Meche.
Gutierrez doubled and scored in the seventh and had a three-run double off Jimmy Gobble in the eighth.
Teahen's RBI single off Jensen Lewis in the eighth ruined the shutout.
"C.C. was back to his old self tonight," said Wedge. "He threw the ball very consistently. You could just tell from the first inning on he was in control. He was finishing off pitches. He used both sides of the plate and went up and down when he needed to."
- Sabathia lowered his ERA from 13.50 to 10.12. His 27 earned runs had been more than all four of Cleveland's other starters combined.
- Billy Butler extended his hitting streak to six games and he has reached base safely in every game this season, walking in the only game he was hitless.
- The Indians set season highs in runs and hits. Gutierrez established a career high with three runs scored.