DETROIT _ Cleveland Indians manager Charlie Manuel stressed in spring training that he needed his starting pitchers to get off to a quick start.
He's got more than he imagined.
C.C. Sabathia nearly no-hit the Detroit Tigers in a 5-1 win Sunday, and the Indians starters are 5-0 to help Cleveland (5-1) meet Manuel's request.
"I kept saying in the spring that the faster we could get the starting pitching going, the better it would be," Manuel explained. "I think our young guys are starting to feed off each other, and that's great for their confidence."
Last season, the Indians' starters threw the fewest innings in the American League. But this year, the bullpen has only been needed for 13 innings in six games.
"Everyone is pitching well, and you just want to keep it going," Sabathia said. "People thought we would be down this year, so it feels great for the whole team. Our pitching has been good and so has our hitting."
Sabathia didn't allow a hit until Randall Simon's leadoff single in the eighth.
"I threw him a slider and he got it," Sabathia said. "I didn't even know I had one until about the fifth or sixth when I happened to look at the scoreboard and realize they didn't have any hits. That pumped me up. I threw 11 seven-inning no-hitters in high school. In one of them, I think I struck out 18 of the 21 guys."
Sunday, Sabathia struck out only two in eight innings, getting 11 outs on fly balls and pop-ups, which he attributed to Comerica Park and the 42-degree weather.
"It's a big ballpark on a cold day," he said. "No one wants to hit one on the fists or off the end of the bat on a day like this, so I was throwing them inside and off the plate. I don't think my stuff was any better than usual, but I got a lot of fly balls to centerfield."
Tigers pitcher Jeff Weaver (0-1) only allowed three runs in 7 2/3 innings, but that wasn't good enough to keep Detroit from falling to 0-6.
"It has been like this every game, so it isn't just myself," he said. "But it is tough _ no one wants to start 0-6. I'm just glad we have a lot of games left."
The Tigers matched their bad start from 1992 but are still less than halfway to the team record of 0-13 set in 1920.
"We are in a situation where nothing is going right for us, and everything is magnified because it is the start of the season," Dmitri Young said. "But give Sabathia credit _ he pitched a masterpiece."
Sabathia retired the first 10 batters before Shane Halter's fourth-inning walk. He also walked Young in the seventh.
"We got off to a great 5-1 start on the road," Manuel said. "Now we have to go home and really get things going."