Dreadful start continues for Sabathia

Updated: April 16, 2008

AP Photo/Mark Duncan

C.C. Sabathia gave up nine runs in four-plus innings in the Indians' 13-2 loss to the Tigers Wednesday.

BAD TIMES FOR C.C.

What happened to the 2007 American League Cy Young winner? C.C. Sabathia, who went 19-7 en route to running away with the 2007 Cy Young, is 0-3 with an ugly 13.50 ERA after four starts in 2008.

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Sabathia set a little baseball history on Wednesday night, but it's not the type he will want other teams to know about if he enters free agency following this season. Since the Cy Young Award started being handed out after the 1956 season, no pitcher has ever allowed 9-plus earned runs in consecutive starts the season after winning the award. Sabathia has done just that, allowing nine runs in 3 1/3 innings against Oakland on Friday and nine more runs Wednesday night against the Tigers.

In four starts this season, Sabathia has walked 14 and allowed 32 hits in 18 innings pitched. Keep in mind, he walked only 37 total batters in an MLB-leading 241 innings last season. In his last past starts alone, Sabathia has allowed 20 hits and 18 runs. He even allowed a grand slam on Wednesday for the first time in his career.

SABATHIA'S FIRST FOUR STARTS
In the past two seasons:
2007 2008
W-L 3-0 0-3
ERA 2.25 13.50
SO/BB 27/7 14/14
Home runs 3 5

MOST CONSECUTIVE DECISIONS LOST TO START A SEASON
By reigning AL Cy Young winner:
Pitcher* Losses Team
Frank Viola (1989) 5 Twins
Bartolo Colon (2006) 4 Angels
Catfish Hunter (1975) 3 Athletics
Vida Blue (1972) 3 Athletics
C.C. Sabathia (2008) 3 Athletics
*During divisional play era (since 1969)

Past Baseball Tonight Clubhouses: April 15 | April 14 | April 13 | April 10 | April 9 | April 8

DON'T DISCOUNT INDIANS' DUO

The National League West has two of the best starting pitching tandems with Jake Peavy and Chris Young in San Diego and Brandon Webb and Dan Haren in Arizona.

But the best one-two punch in baseball resides in Cleveland with C.C. Sabathia and Fausto Carmona. They're off to a slow start (combined 1-4 in seven starts), but having pitched in the Midwest in April when I was with the Chicago Cubs, I know it's tough to have great command when it's not ideal baseball weather. In these cold conditions, the baseball feels more like a cue ball. Once the weather improves, Sabathia's command and velocity will get better and Carmona's sinker will stay down.

I'm also basing my top choice on what these two did last season. They combined to go 38-15; more impressively, they threw a combined 456 innings. Sabathia and Carmona's consistency helped the Indians' entire rotation to be solid, and the two workhorses didn't allow the bullpen to be overtaxed. Plus, Sabathia and Carmona are facing tough opposition like Detroit, New York and Boston -- teams with lineups that are better than the Indians offensively.

Josh Beckett and anyone would be a great duo. The same can be said about Roy Halladay. Although Sabathia and Carmona haven't been themselves yet this season, when it's all said and done in 2008, they'll be the best one-two punch in baseball.

FORWARD THINKING: THURSDAY

• Brewers at Cardinals, 1:15 p.m. ET: Lefty Manny Parra (1-1, 4.82 ERA) has had mixed results in his first two starts for the Brewers. He'll face Kyle Lohse (2-0, 1.04 ERA), who has been excellent in three starts, having allowed two runs in 17 1/3 innings.

• Tigers at Indians, 7:05 p.m. ET: Justin Verlander (0-2, 6.52 ERA) has given up a combined 19 runs in his first three starts. He'll be opposed by Fausto Carmona (1-1, 2.20 ERA), who has issued 17 walks in 16 1/3 innings pitched.

• Braves at Marlins, 7:10 p.m. ET: After beginning the season on the disabled list, John Smoltz (2-0, 0.82 ERA) has allowed only one run in two starts. He'll face Ricky Nolasco (1-0, 4.22 ERA), who earned a win in his first start of the season last Friday.

Complete list of pitching probables for Thursday's games


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BBTN ON THE AIR: THURSDAY

TIME WHO'S ON?
9:30 p.m. ET
ESPN
Host: Karl Ravech
Analysts: Peter Gammons, Tim Kurkjian, Steve Phillips, Eduardo Perez
12 a.m. ET
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Host: Steve Berthiaume
Analysts: Tim Kurkjian, Steve Phillips, Eduardo Perez

BASEBALL TONIGHT MINUTE: C.C. STRUGGLING

WEDNESDAY'S NOTEWORTHY PERFORMANCES

GOOD
Indians• The Cubs rocked Reds pitching for the second straight game, scoring early and often in an 12-3 victory. In the first two games of the three-game series, the Cubs have scored 21 runs and pounded out 27 hits.
BAD
Barry Zito lost his fourth consecutive start to begin the season, allowing four runs in six innings in the Giants' 4-1 loss to the Diamondbacks.
UGLY
Red Sox• Red Sox pitching gave up 16 hits, including seven for extra bases, in a 15-9 loss to the Yankees. The Boston bullpen was especially brutal, allowing eight runs in 4 1/3 innings.

WHO IS JOHNNY CUETO?

Many teams didn't see a major league prospect in Johnny Cueto, overlooking him mainly because of his height. The Reds' media guide states Cueto is 5-foot-10, when in fact he looks closer to 5-foot-8.

Reds "When I introduced myself to the people of Cincinnati, many other teams had already evaluated me, but they all had reservations to sign me. Some told me I was too short, others thought I was in fact older than the age that appeared in my papers," Cueto told ESPNdeportes.com.

With an explosive, controlled fastball and a venomous slider, Cueto started his rise within the Reds farm system in 2004, but he put his career on the fast track to the big leagues when he perfected his changeup two years ago.

"The changeup comes naturally in Cueto, but it took him some time to perfect it and control it until he turned it into a pitch as good as it is now," said former Cincinnati pitcher Mario Soto, who has worked with Cueto over the past few years.

Cueto signed for a mere $35,000 three days after a couple of talent scouts from the Reds saw him pitch for the first time in a quick, 15-throw session one morning in May 2004.

Because of his size, repertoire and bountiful confidence, Cueto has been nicknamed "Little Pedro," in reference to fellow Dominican Pedro Martinez, who has been Cueto's idol since childhood.

"Pedro has been my inspiration, the person for whom I decided to stop playing outfield to become a pitcher," Cueto said. "One of my biggest dreams is to be able to meet Pedro in person, shake his hand and tell him that he has been my hero and my role model."

FANTASY: PREVIEW OF THURSDAY'S GAMES

Will Harris examines the pitching matchups in store for the 13 games on Thursday's schedule in the American League and National League.

Will also looks at current injuries and details player reports that could help shape the way you put together your roster for Thursday's games. Daily Notes

THIS DATE IN MLB HISTORY (APRIL 17)

1934: At the rebuilt Fenway Park, the Red Sox unveiled the Green Monster -- the 18-foot concrete wall that replaced "Duffy's Cliff," the 10-foot-incline named after Duffy Lewis.

1955: Roberto Clemente made his debut for the Pirates and went 1-for-4 in Pittsburgh's 10-3 loss to the Dodgers.

2001: The Giants edged the Dodgers 3-2, as Barry Bonds hit his 500th career home run.