CLEVELAND -- C.C. Sabathia wasn't going to point his finger and blame anybody. He knows all too well that when a team hits the skids, it often hits them hard. "We're in a slump," Sabathia said of his Indians. "Anything that can go wrong will. But we're a good team, and we're going to come out of this." The Tribe didn't come out of it Saturday night, despite Sabathia's best efforts.
His supporting cast's gloves and bats did very little to back up his strong start, and a 3-0 loss to the Tigers at Jacobs Field, extending the Indians' losing streak to five games, was the result. Though Sabathia was mowing down the Tigers with 10 strikeouts, his teammates were getting mowed down themselves by Jeremy Bonderman, who held them to a mere three hits and three walks over eight scoreless innings. "He was just on," Sabathia said of Bonderman. "When he's on like that, he's tough to beat. It was more about him being good than our offense not hitting." True, but the Indians weren't exactly helping themselves. Only three times did they have a runner in scoring position against Bonderman. Grady Sizemore was stranded at third in the first inning, Todd Hollandsworth was stranded at second after breaking up Bonderman's no-hitter in the fifth and Sizemore was doubled off second base when Jhonny Peralta hit a hard liner right to second baseman Placido Polanco in the sixth. Bonderman used just 98 pitches to get through his eight innings of work. "Not to take anything away from Bonderman," manager Eric Wedge said, "but we could have made him work a little harder." That the Indians couldn't put together solid at-bats against Bonderman was a surprise, given that they rocked him to the tune of seven runs in 3 2/3 innings in Detroit last month. The difference between this outing and that one, Wedge said, was Bonderman's breaking ball. "Sometimes it was a little wider and softer and others it was shorter and harder," Wedge said. "He worked that and his fastball off each other nicely." Sabathia was having similar success with his slider, which was instrumental in him getting the Tigers to go down swinging in eight of his 10 K's. That was enough to impress opposing manager Jim Leyland. "That's an outstanding pitcher," Leyland said of Sabathia. "That's not just an average Major League pitcher. That's an outstanding Major League pitcher." Sabathia, though, did make a couple mistakes, and so did his defense. The solo home run Sabathia served up to Chris Shelton in the third inning put the Tribe in an early 1-0 hole. That hole was made bigger by a couple of gaffes in the field in the sixth. Aaron Boone couldn't make a play on a grounder that took a tough hop past him and Peralta made an errant throw on what looked to be a groundout. With two runners aboard thanks to the errors, Sabathia gave up a one-run single to Magglio Ordonez to make it 2-0. Sabathia, who also saw Ronnie Belliard boot a ball in the eighth, was diplomatic after the game. "Our D is good," he said. "They save a lot more hits than they give up. I have confidence in them. Any pitcher who lets that get to them shouldn't be in the big leagues." By the time Ivan Rodriguez added an RBI double off Sabathia in the eighth, the Indians looked to be out of it. They were most definitely out of it later that inning, when Peralta hit a dribbler down the first-base line and assumed it would be foul. He stood at the plate and watched as it stayed fair for a groundout. That play infuriated Wedge. "It bothers me as much as anything that's happened this year," he said. "We talked about it. He thought it was going to be foul, but that ball's too close to assume that." The Indians can't assume much of anything these days. "Anything that can go wrong will," Sabathia said, summing up the last five games. "But we always seem to be a team that learns from its mistakes."
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.