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Not All Smiles

C.C. Sabathia was nothing short of dominant last season, but the Cleveland Indians' ace has failed to repeat that success in his first four starts of 2008.

Sabathia hopes to put an end to his frustrating start and secure his first win of the year when the Indians open a three-game road series with the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday.

Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Cleveland -127 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for tonight's game, the over/under has been set at 9 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 83% of bets for this game have been placed on Cleveland –127 (View MLB Bet Percentages). Bet this game.

Sabathia went 19-7 with a career-best 3.21 ERA en route to earning the 2007 AL Cy Young Award, but was just 1-2 with an 8.80 ERA in three postseason starts.

Sabathia (0-3, 13.50) appears to have carried those troubles into 2008, walking 14 in 18 innings after only issuing 37 over 241 innings in 34 starts a season ago.

The left-hander was roughed up for a second straight time on Wednesday, when he yielded nine runs and eight hits while walking five in four innings of a 13-2 home loss to Detroit.

"I'm always my worst critic," said Sabathia, who hasn't made it out of the sixth inning in any of his appearances. "It's frustrating that I've pitched four games and not even given my team a chance in any of them. That's unacceptable."

Sabathia didn't receive a decision on opening day - a 10-8 win over the Chicago White Sox - and has dropped each of his last three games. He hopes to avoid losing a fourth consecutive start for the first time since dropping five straight from July 6-30, 2005.

Facing the Royals (9-10) hasn't been a problem for Sabathia, however. He is 13-8 with a 3.38 ERA in 28 meetings against them, including a 7-4 mark and a 4.41 ERA in 14 games in Kansas City.

Like Sabathia, the Indians have had few problems when opposing the Royals.

Cleveland went 11-7 against them in 2007 and posted a 5-4 mark at Kauffman Stadium, winning four of its last five matchups there.

The Indians, though, have dropped their last two road games and eight of 11 overall. While the pitching has been problematic, the offense has been just as much of a concern.

Cleveland, which is hitting an AL-low .235, has scored one run in its last two games and is coming off a 2-1, 10-inning loss at Minnesota on Sunday.

"We've got to figure this offense out," Indians manager Eric Wedge said. "We've got better players in there. We've got better hitters in there. There is no excuses. The guys that are spinning their wheels have to find a way to get going."

Franklin Gutierrez drove in the lone run for Cleveland, which has scored three runs or fewer nine times this season.

Designated hitter Travis Hafner went 1-for-4 on Sunday, and is hitting just .105 (2-for-19) in his last five games.

In 72 career games versus the Royals, though, Hafner has batted .310 with 17 homers - the second-most he has against any opponent.

Kansas City begins a six-game homestand after an unsuccessful road trip that was capped by a three-game sweep in Oakland. The Royals managed just three hits in Sunday's 7-1 defeat.

"We had started the road trip off pretty good and you don't envision going 2-5, but that's what happened," first-year manager Trey Hillman told the Royals' official Web site.

The Royals have dropped four straight for the first time since a seven-game skid from Sept. 4-11. They hope to avoid adding to the slide behind Gil Meche (1-2, 6.08), who seeks his first home win of the season.

In his last outing, the right-hander limited the Los Angeles Angels to two runs and six hits over six innings in a 3-2 win on Wednesday.

Meche is 2-6 with a 5.32 ERA in 12 career starts versus the Indians.

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