|"[Sabathia] was fantastic tonight, from the first pitch all the way to the final pitch he threw in the eighth inning. He was in control the entire ballgame."|
|-- manager Eric Wedge|
It did. Leaping against the wall, Sizemore let the ball carom off the heel of his glove, trapping it with his body before grabbing it with his free hand for the loud out.
"I just told him that saved the game," Sabathia said. "That was a big catch, and just getting my foot off to a good start -- that meant everything."
Said Wedge, "I think he electrified everyone with that catch."
It didn't necessarily electrify the Tribe's bats right away, though. Facing right-hander Daryl Thompson in his second career Major league start -- the kind of pitcher that has given the team fits all season -- the Indians put runners on base in each of the first four innings, but had nothing to show for it.
In the fifth, Sizemore, again, was there to pick up the slack, blasting his 18th home run 379 feet to right field, giving Sabathia all the run support he would need.
But the Indians weren't done proving they could hit a rookie, erupting for five runs in the sixth.
An RBI single from Casey Blake and a Kelly Shoppach sacrifice fly put the Tribe up, 3-0, before Sizemore ripped it open with a two-run double. Jamey Carroll added an RBI single for good measure to cap the surprising outburst.
"After the homer, we did a good job of adding on the next inning and getting the big hit," Sizemore said. "C.C. was on, and we were able to give him support and carry him through the game."
The support was appreciated, but Sabathia didn't really need it. He locked in after allowing a two-out single to Norris Hopper in the second, striking out the next batter and retiring the next 14 in commanding fashion.
"He was fantastic tonight, from the first pitch all the way to the final pitch he threw in the eighth inning," Wedge said. "He was in control the entire ballgame."
He had reason, maybe, to lose control after allowing a two-out hit in the seventh to Jeff Keppinger, which broke the streak of consecutive batters retired at 15. And he had reason, perhaps, in the eighth when the Reds put two runners on with one out.
Sabathia didn't, ending both threats with strikeouts and setting up Masa Kobayashi for a stress-free ninth inning.
"It's impressive to watch," Sizemore said of Sabathia. "He went out there and dominated."
Sabathia's dominance made a bit of history on this night. He and Lee became the first Indians to have back-to-back 10-strikeout performances since 1972, when Gaylord Perry and Dick Tidrow did it.
"I don't think you'll see any better back-to-back starts than what you've seen from Cliff and C.C. over the last two nights," Wedge said.
Certainly, more verification that it's OK for a manager to have two aces up his sleeve.
Andrew Gribble is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.