SAN FRANCISCO -- On their flight bound for the West Coast, Indians teammates C.C. Sabathia, Victor Martinez and Grady Sizemore were discussing the possibilities that might unfold in Tuesday's All-Star Game, when the subject of Martinez's switch-hitting skill came up. "I told him," Sabathia recalled, "that if I was a manager, I wouldn't let him bat right-handed, because he never makes outs right-handed. He proved me right." Did he ever.
Martinez's pinch-hit, two-run homer off the Mets' Billy Wagner in the bottom of the seventh inning seemed like unnecessary insurance when it cleared the left-field wall, because it gave the American League a three-run lead. As it turns out, the blast proved to be the defining blow in the Junior Circuit's 5-4 victory at AT&T Park. "You never know what's going to happen in this game," Martinez said. "At the end, those two runs gave us the win." But whereas Martinez's home run was the physical highlight of the Indians' involvement in the 78th Midsummer Classic, Sabathia's scoreless fifth inning of work was the emotional one. Several years back, Sabathia, a native of nearby Vallejo, Calif., had talked with his father, also known as Carsten Charles, about the possibility of one day pitching in this ballpark in an All-Star Game. The elder Sabathia passed away in 2003, but Sabathia took the mound knowing his old man was looking down on him and smiling. "It gave me goosebumps," Sabathia said. "I wasn't nervous all day until I got out there. Then, I was nervous." Sabathia didn't show it. Unlike his previous All-Star appearance at Houston's Minute Maid Park in 2004, when he gave up three runs in an inning of work, Sabathia was quick and efficient in this outing. Sent in with the AL holding a 2-1 lead, he needed just nine pitches to retire the side, with Jose Reyes' two-out single to center serving as his only miscue. He got Chase Utley to ground out to second, Alfonso Soriano to go down on a hard liner to left and Derrek Lee to hit a grounder back to the mound to end the inning. "I threw one changeup," Sabathia said with a laugh. "The rest were all fastballs. I was trying to air it out. I got behind everybody, but it was fun." Just as fun, apparently, was Sabathia's combination All-Star/birthday party a night earlier. Though he doesn't turn 27 until July 21, he had a horde of friends, family and All-Star teammates in attendance at the biggest of birthday bashes in downtown San Francisco. Torii Hunter, Carl Crawford and Johan Santana were among those in attendance.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.