Eager to put his first two starts behind him, Pavano had given up 13 earned runs in seven innings. Against the New York Yankees, he showed his old form for the first time since signing with the Indians in the offseason.
"He's getting progressively better, the tempo, the use of his pitches," manager Eric Wedge said. "You love that he loves his fastball. That's what he wants to do."
Pavano left with a lead that the bullpen let slip away, so there was no first victory of 2009, but there was his slider and his changeup, which were working. Pavano said his fastball wasn't quite at its best, but there was rhythm, which is key.
Pavano went six innings, walking one and allowing one run, in the series finale against New York, pitching in a Yankee Stadium environment that was very hostile to the right-hander, who won nine games during a four-year, $39.95 million deal with the Yankees.
To Pavano, it was another game, despite echoes of his vintage form and facing a fan base that eagerly awaited another implosion.
"You know, the fans in New York are very passionate, but to tell you the truth, in retrospect, it's not that big a game," he said. "I have pitched in World Series games, and it is a privilege to play Major League games anywhere for any team in any park."
Whether Pavano's progression continues is to be determined, but Pavano feels like he may be getting into a groove, and if he does, he still thinks he could become the pitcher who won 18 games for the Florida Marlins in 2004.
Whether he begins a spectacular comeback against the Twins also is to be determined. For now, though, it's just another game. He makes no predictions for the future. Pavano is ready to pick up where he left off in Yankee Stadium.
"It's about level of intensity, and you want to keep up your level of intensity," Pavano said. "I think you've got to have that perspective."
CLE: RHP Carl Pavano (0-2, 9.69 ERA)
Silencing the wrath of Yankees fans still bitter about his four unfortunate years in New York, Pavano pitched a gem at Yankee Stadium on Sunday. He went six innings, allowing just a run on four hits with a walk and four strikeouts before the bullpen blew the game and saddled him with a no-decision. Pavano felt he didn't have his best fastball, but he got quality results from his slider and changeup. All in all, he's made major strides since allowing nine runs in one-plus inning of work in his Tribe debut in Texas on April 8.
MIN: RHP Kevin Slowey (2-0, 5.89 ERA)
In his last start, Slowey finally found the form that he had during Spring Training. After allowing 22 hits in 10 1/3 innings in his first two starts of the season, Slowey held the Angels to just two runs on six hits in seven innings, lowering his ERA from 7.94 to 5.89 in the outing, with his only two runs coming on a two-run homer by former Twins center fielder Torii Hunter. Slowey said that a key to his success was throwing a few more pitches out of the strike zone. Known for his stellar command, Slowey has realized that he has often been throwing too many strikes, and by making his misses less hittable, he feels he can produce better results. Next up for Slowey will be a start against the Indians. He is 1-2 with a 5.48 ERA in four career starts against the Tribe.
Ten and a half months after Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery, Jake Westbrook's recovery remains on track, trainer Lonnie Soloff reported Friday. Westbrook is in Goodyear, Ariz., for rehab, throwing bullpen sessions on Mondays and Fridays. Soloff said that Westbrook has thrown each of his pitches off the mound, except his cutter. In two weeks, Westbrook will begin throwing simulated games. Westbrook is eyeing a return to the Majors in June. ... Outfielder David Dellucci continues his rehab at Triple-A Columbus. Once he gets in enough repetitions, Soloff said, Dellucci will be called back up. Soloff said Dellucci's rehab stint is akin to Spring Training for the outfielder. ... Travis Hafner has been playing five or six days per week, and that will remain steady. Pronk, who was used as a pinch-hitter Thursday against the Royals, may see his workload increase as the season goes on. ... Scott Lewis' recovery is also going well, Soloff said.
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Official game notes
Sunday: Indians (Aaron Laffey, 1-0, 2.19) vs. Twins (Glen Perkins, 1-1, 1.50), 1:05 p.m. ET
Monday: Indians (Cliff Lee, 1-3, 5.25) vs. Red Sox (Tim Wakefield, 2-1, 2.45), 7:05 p.m. ET
Tuesday: Indians (Anthony Reyes, 1-0, 4.76) vs. Red Sox (Brad Penny, 2-0, 7.80), 7:05 p.m. ET