Orioles' Slump Continues
Monday, August 22, 2005
CLEVELAND, Aug. 21 -- The only numbers Travis Hafner is concerned with are the ones in Cleveland's win column.
Hafner drove in four runs to help C.C. Sabathia win his fourth straight start, and the Indians completed a three-game sweep of the Baltimore Orioles with a 5-1 victory Sunday.
The Indians, who began play 1 1/2 games behind Oakland in the AL wild-card race, won their fourth straight and fifth in six games to move a season-high 12 games over .500.
"All we want to do is win," Hafner said after getting three hits. "If we win, we make up ground in the wild card and the division. All I care about is getting to the playoffs any way possible."
Though Cleveland has trimmed 6 1/2 games off a 15-game deficit to AL Central leader Chicago since July 25, Hafner doesn't quite consider it a race with the White Sox -- yet.
"If you get it under five, that's realistic," he said. "Time will tell over the next month how much we have learned."
The skidding Orioles, who had playoff hopes in the first half, fell to 13-23 since the all-star break and lost for the 26th time in 36 road games -- despite opening a six-game trip with a three-game sweep in Oakland.
"I'm disappointed," said Sam Perlozzo, who is 9-7 as interim manager. "I didn't expect to come in here and get swept."
Sabathia (10-9) improved to 4-0 in August after losing his last five starts in July.
"I've felt good all year, but I've been more in control lately," Sabathia said. "I feel a huge difference."
The left-hander gave up one run and three hits in eight innings, punctuating his performance by getting Eric Byrnes to hit his final pitch for a double play.
"Yeah, I'm pumped," Sabathia said. "We're pretty close in the wild card and creeping up on the White Sox."
Cleveland broke a 1-1 tie in the sixth and extended the lead when Hafner's two-run double capped a three-run seventh.
Jhonny Peralta began the sixth with a soft liner to left-center off the glove of left fielder Byrnes, who was brushed by center fielder Luis Matos as he tried for the catch. Matos was charged with an error -- one of six by Baltimore in the last two games -- for causing the bobble.
"At the last second, I heard Luis call for it," Byrnes said. "It's tough to get out of the way, but that's my job. I screwed up."
Coco Crisp made it 3-1 in the seventh with a sacrifice fly. After Peralta walked, Hafner drove in two more with a line drive down the right field line.