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© St. Petersburg Times, published April 9, 2001

Sabathia impresses in debut for Indians

Sabathia impresses in debut for Indians

CLEVELAND -- C.C. Sabathia was just two batters into his big-league debut when he thought, "Uh-oh, I'm not in Kinston anymore."

Sabathia, who had never pitched in a game above the Double-A level before Sunday, lived up to the hype and overcame a shaky first inning as the Indians rallied for a 4-3 victory over the Orioles.

Sabathia, 20, handled everyone in Baltimore's lineup except Jeff Conine and got a no-decision when the Indians rallied from a 3-0 deficit to win on Juan Gonzalez's two-run single in the seventh.

"It's about what I expected," Sabathia, the organization's No. 1 draft pick in 1998, said. "It's a big relief. Now I can just concentrate on pitching. It's old now. My next one is going to be a lot easier."

Facing a weak-hitting Orioles squad batting just .176 coming in, Sabathia allowed three runs and three hits in 5 2/3 innings, walked two and struck out three.

But after giving up Conine's homer, the 6-foot-7, 260-pound Sabathia pitched well, retiring 16 of the last 18.

"He's in the wrong business," said Baltimore starter Chuck McElroy. "He should be playing tackle somewhere. As long as he stays composed, he's going to be devastating. He was throwing 99 (mph) with no effort."

YANKEES 16, BLUE JAYS 5: Jorge Posada hit a first-inning grand slam, the first of his career.

New York, which had lost two straight to the visiting Blue Jays after opening with three wins over Kansas City, took a 12-0 lead in the third inning. Toronto had gotten just 10 outs by the time every Yankees starter scored.

Tino Martinez was 3-for-4 with four RBI, Derek Jeter got his first two RBI of the season and Chuck Knoblauch had three hits for the Yankees, who had 20 hits. New York stopped a six-game losing streak against the Blue Jays.

Roger Clemens won for the 11th time in 13 decisions, holding Toronto to one hit in the first three innings. Up 12 runs, his pitches became hittable, and he struggled through a five-run fourth before settling down.

TIGERS 5, WHITE SOX 3: David Wells doesn't want to hear that he pitched well or that he didn't get enough run support. Chicago lost, and that's all that mattered to Wells. "When it comes down to it, it's the pitching," he said. "We can keep the other teams to two or three runs. That should be enough." Wells gave up five runs and 11 hits in eight innings.

Deivi Cruz and Tony Clark drove in two runs apiece for the Tigers, who got their first three-game sweep at Comiskey Park since August 1991. And Jeff Weaver continued his mastery of the team that drafted him in 1997 but never signed him.

ANGELS 6, ATHLETICS 4: Making contact proved to make all the difference for Benji Gil. Gil had a career-high four hits and drove in two runs for host Anaheim. He was 2-for-12 with four strikeouts in his previous 12 at-bats.

"Today he was spectacular," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's a guy we know can be productive, especially against left-handed pitching. That's a big game for him."

Scott Schoeneweis pitched six strong innings as the Angels won two of three from the defending West champions. Barry Zito, who made his major-league debut against the Angels July 22, faltered after striking out five of the first seven batters he faced. He allowed consecutive hits to the bottom of the order and was never effective afterward.

RANGERS 5, MARINERS 4: Texas' trade with Oakland for Randy Velarde may have been overshadowed last winter by the free-agent signings of Alex Rodriguez, Ken Caminiti and Andres Galarraga, but the 38-year-old second baseman shouldn't be overlooked. Velarde, who got a break from the starting lineup, hit a game-winning homer in the eighth inning. That came an inning after he entered as a defensive replacement for host Texas.

ROYALS 15, TWINS 4: This was the game for which Kansas City's slumping hitters were waiting. Mark Quinn drove in a career-high five runs and A.J. Hinch and Mike Sweeney had three RBI apiece as the host Royals scored more runs than they had in the five previous games combined. While going 1-4, the Royals had scored just 12 runs.

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