CLEVELAND, United States (AFP) — Kenny Lofton had four RBI and C.C. Sabathia got the outs he needed to as the Indians defeated the New York Yankees 12-3 in game one of the American League Division Series on Thursday.
Rookie Asdrubal Cabrera, Travis Hafner and Ryan Garko each hit solo home runs and Victor Martinez added a two-run blast as the Indians pounded New York starter Chin-Mieng Wang and returned to the postseason with a bang.
"The playoffs is a whole different atmosphere," Lofton said. "Now you start from scratch. You start from day one. And we look today as day one and we've got this win out."
The Indians host game two of the first round Major League Baseball series on Friday.
Alex Rodriguez's postseason misery along with the Yankees continued as the all-star third baseman went 0-for-2 with two walks and has only four hits in his last 50 postseason at-bats.
Meanwhile New York has had their own problems in the postseason, as New York has lost their last four games in the playoffs and haven't won a playoff series since 2004.
On August 12, the Yankees had just completed a three-game sweep of the Indians at Jacobs Field.
New York won all six games between the two teams this season - outscoring the Tribe 49-17 - but the team they had just swept isn't the team New York is playing in the ALDS.
Since that point the Indians finished the season on a 31-13 tear - the best mark in baseball since August 13 - to return to the postseason for the first time since 2001.
"We have a lot of respect for (New York)," Martinez said. "We just needed to make sure we played hard. We were ready to play today."
While much has been made about the Indians lack of postseason experience against the Yankees, it was the player with the most experience on the team leading the way.
Lofton, who was acquired at the end of July from the Texas Rangers, was a central figure on the Indians powerhouse teams of the 1990s.
However, instead of scoring the runs, Lofton was driving them in on Thursday.
Lofton put the Indians in front 3-1 with a two-run, two-out single in the first. It was a lead the Indians never relinquished as Sabathia pitched just well enough to get his second postseason victory.
"Kenny is a big-game player and he has given us a boost in the bottom of the lineup," Indians manager Eric Wedge said. "Certain players have that within him and Kenny most definitely does. He's done it his entire career. He has been a postseason player throughout."
Sabathia, who was making his first start against the Yankees since 2004, labored through five innings, throwing 114 pitches - 62 for strikes.
Sabathia, who averaged 1.4 walks every nine innings during the regular season, walked six batters - the most since 2005 - but none scored.
He struck out five and allowed three runs on four hits. Sabathia and a trio of relievers held New York to just five hits, including just one from the Nos. two through six hitters in the lineup.
"We didn't swing it like we wanted," Rodriguez said. "Sabathia really shut us down at the key point."
Despite the ugly numbers Sabathia (1-0) was able to minimize the damage, constantly working out of jams - none bigger than the fifth.
"When somebody beats us up, you tip your cap to them and come back the next day," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "In a short series, you've got to battle every game. Five-game series' is certainly scary, no question."
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