Sabathia throws second shutout

Sabathia throws second shutout

CLEVELAND -- The question was asked a half-dozen times or so, but Travis Hafner wouldn't bite.

In fact, he wouldn't even nibble.

Hafner became the first player in Major League history to hit five grand slams before the All-Star break, and the Indians rolled to a 9-0 win over Baltimore on Friday night. Following the game, he was asked several times about not being selected to the American League All-Star team for Tuesday's game in Pittsburgh.

Despite having many chances to do so, Hafner never moved from his diplomatic stance.

"It's out of your control," he said. "I think I've worked hard and improved as a player every year. I'm still having a great season. I have the greatest job in the world."

When the question came a few more times, he smiled and said, "You're trying to get me to snap."

Left-hander C.C. Sabathia, whose three-hit shutout was overshadowed by Hafner, came to his teammate's defense.

"It's unbelievable," he said. "He's probably got better numbers than anyone in the Home Run Derby. It's a joke. He's been one of the best hitters in the game the last three years. For him to get snubbed three years in a row and no one to make a fuss about it is a joke."

Indians manager Eric Wedge, who will be one of the AL coaches in the game, would like to take Hafner with him.

"He's deserving of being an All-Star," he said. "Unfortunately, every year, one or two guys don't make it. What he's managed to do in the first half is pretty unbelievable."

Hafner's second-inning blast off Kris Benson was the key blow on a night the Indians offense put up 17 hits. It was the seventh grand slam of his career and also gives him the team record for grand slams in a season. He was tied with Al Rosen, who hit four in 1951. Don Mattingly holds the Major League record for grand slams in a season with six in 1987.

"It's an honor to have something like that," Hafner said. "It's cool. It's something I'm proud of."

Hafner is 7-for-10 with 25 RBIs with the bases loaded this season. He has 25 homers, fourth in the American League, has driven in 74 runs and is batting 318.

As Hafner came to the plate in the second, the crowd of 27,110 started waving white towels, which was part of a promotional giveaway.

"I was thinking about it a little bit when I went to the plate," he said. "Then I wondered where did all these white towels come from? They hadn't been waving them the whole game. I was wondering if I could see the ball."

So what's the key to hitting with the bases loaded?

"It's a coincidence," he said. "You love to hit in those situations. You can go years without hitting a grand slam or you can hit one the next day. You never know how often you're going to be up with the bases loaded. You just try to hit the ball hard."

The offense made for an easy night for Sabathia (7-4), who threw his second shutout of the season and fourth in his career. He held the Orioles to three hits, struck out seven and didn't walk a batter.

Sabathia is 5-1 with a 1.06 ERA this season following an Indians loss.

"It definitely means a lot to go out and have a good performance after a loss," he said. "That's what I try to do anytime after a loss. It's great to get the complete game and be out there to slap palms."

Ronnie Belliard's sacrifice fly gave the Indians a 1-0 lead in the first. Consecutive singles in the second by Jhonny Peralta, Ramon Vazquez and Franklin Gutierrez made it 2-0. After a flyout, a fielder's choice that cut down Vazquez trying to score and Belliard's hit to deep short, Hafner hit Benson's first pitch into the seats in right for a 6-0 lead.

Gutierrez drove in a career-high three runs with RBI singles in the second, third and fifth. Ben Broussard and Grady Sizemore each drove in a run.

Steve Herrick is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.