C.C. Takes Hill vs. A's

He was one of the most dominant pitchers in the AL last season, but Cleveland Indians ace C.C. Sabathia has gotten off to a rough start in 2008.

Sabathia once again seeks his first win of the season and looks to put an end to his struggles against the Oakland Athletics when he takes the ball Friday in the opener of a three-game series at Cleveland.

Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Cleveland -156 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for tonight's game, the over/under has been set at 8.5 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 50% of bets for this game have been placed on Cleveland -156 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

Sabathia (0-1, 7.59 ERA) won the 2007 AL Cy Young Award after going 19-7 with a career-best 3.21 ERA. He helped lead the Indians (4-5) to an AL Central Division title, but he fell apart in the postseason, going 1-2 with a 8.80 ERA in three starts as Cleveland lost to Boston in the ALCS.

Those struggles have continued into 2008. After yielding five runs in 5 1-3 innings in a 10-8 loss to the Chicago White Sox on March 31, the left-hander allowed four runs, six hits, and four walks in 5 1-3 innings of a 6-1 defeat at Oakland on Saturday. The Athletics (6-4) took two of three games in the series.

Sabathia averaged 1.38 walks per nine innings in 2007, the second-best mark in the AL, but has already walked seven batters in 10 2-3 innings this season. The A's have been walked 41 times, tied with Seattle for the most in the AL.

"They always do a good job making you throw pitches,'' Sabathia said.

A native of the Bay Area, Sabathia has had little success against the A's in his career, going 2-6 with a 6.04 ERA in 13 starts.

Oakland counters with Joe Blanton (0-2, 3.44), who is also seeking his first victory of the season.

Blanton has allowed only seven runs in 18 1-3 innings over three starts, but has received only four runs of support.

In Sunday's 2-1 loss to the Indians, he carried a shutout into seventh inning before Cleveland scored twice. Blanton, who was fourth in the AL in walks per nine innings last season (1.57), allowed four walks on Sunday - his most since Aug. 12, 2006.

The right-hander is 1-4 with a 4.30 ERA in six career starts against the Indians.

The A's are coming off a 3-2, 12-inning victory at Toronto on Thursday to sweep a three-game series.

Right fielder Travis Buck doubled home the two decisive runs in the 12th, and finished 3-for-6 with three doubles and three RBIs.

After starting the season in an 0-for-21 slump, Buck went 7-for-16 with four RBIs and six doubles - a club record for a three-game series - against the Blue Jays.

"The way these three games went and the way we battled all the way to the end and came out on top, everybody did their job this series,'' Buck said. "We're very proud and we've got to continue it.''

The Indians have dropped five of their last seven games, including a 9-5 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday.

Shortstop Jhonny Peralta went 3-for-5 with a solo homer and a double in the defeat. He is 7-for-13 with two home runs, two doubles and three RBIs in his last three games.

Here are some top trends for tonight's matchup:

-SABATHIA is 2-6 when starting against OAKLAND with an ERA of 6.04 and a WHIP of 1.616.

-BLANTON is 1-4 when starting against CLEVELAND with an ERA of 4.30 and a WHIP of 1.487.

-CLEVELAND is 51-68 (-28.5 Units) against the money line at home when the total is 8 to 8.5 since 1997.

by: Dave Michaels - thespread.com – Email Us

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