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Pavano passes major test

By Sheldon Published: April 20, 2009

It would be difficult to devise a test more demanding for Carl Pavano.

As a Yankee for four years through 2008, he was the object of derision and insults, emanating from the fans, some of his teammates and his manager, Joe Torre, who ripped the pitcher in his recent book.

Moreover, Pavano began the season by getting shellacked for nine runs in one inning by the Rangers, reinforcing whatever negative images New Yorkers carried of him.

So when he yielded only one run in six innings at new Yankee Stadium on Sunday, it was more than just an efficient job of pitching.

""I think he showed his toughness,'' manager Eric Wedge said after the Indians' 7-3 loss. ""He proved he had a thick skin and demonstrated some good focus out there.''

Pavano kept the Yankees off balance throughout the start, with hitters lunging, swinging early or topping slow rollers around the infield. But he had little interest in talking about his relationship with New York.

Asked about his emotions, Pavano said, ""I was excited. But it doesn't matter if I'm pitching against a team I played with or played against.''

Pavano walked a tightrope in the sixth, when he loaded the bases with two outs but struck out Nick Swisher to escape trouble. Wedge let Pavano know he trusted him to finish the inning.

""He said it was my game, my batter,'' Pavano said. ""That's the kind of thing that proves to me Eric is a special manager.''

TAKING RESPONSIBILITY -- Jensen Lewis, who took the loss in both Tribe weekend defeats, felt cheated by the dimensions of the short right field at Yankee Stadium (the same as the old ballpark) and the way the ball carries (not the same), but he put the blame on himself.

""Carl (Pavano) did everything he could to put us in position to win, and we didn't,'' he said. ""That's on me.''

ANOTHER BLOWUP -- Rafael Perez was expected to be a lockdown setup man. Instead, only the first of his seven of his appearances has been devoid of baserunners, and his earned-run average is 16.71.

""We've got to get him figured out,'' Wedge said. ""We might have to take a step back to take two steps forward.''

That statement has the ring of a trip to Columbus.

CORRECTION -- The Indians are not responsible for three of the five worst losses (18 runs or more) in Yankee history. It'a four of five.

In addition to the 22-0 shutout in 2004 and the 19-1 whipping in 2006 and last Saturday's 22-4 shellacking, the Tribe hammered the Bronx Bombers 24-6 on July 29, 1928.

OTHER STUFF -- The Tribe outscored the Yankees 40-19 yet came out of the series with only a 2-2 split. ... The starters posted a 3.52 ERA against New York, the relievers 7.36. ... Shin-Soo Choo was only 2-for-12 during the series, but he homered twice, drove in four runs, scored five and compiled an on-base percentage of .444 because of five walks and a hit batter. ... the Indians hit 11 home runs in the four-game set.


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