KANSAS CITY, Mo. — C.C. Sabathia is ready to get a fresh look at the New York Yankees.
Sabathia survived line drives off each wrist — both hit by Mark Grudzielanek — and earned his 100th career victory, pitching the Cleveland Indians past Kansas City 5-3 Friday night to wrap up home-field advantage for the first round of the playoffs.
The Indians claimed their 95th victory, tying them with the Boston Red Sox for the most wins in the American League. The Red Sox, however, hold the tiebreaker by taking five of seven from Cleveland.
The AL Central champions will open the playoffs at home against the Yankees while the Red Sox start at home against the Los Angeles Angels.
“I haven’t faced them since ’04,” Sabathia said. “I don’t remember the last time I faced them. I’ll have to look at some tape and see. Their hitters are probably a little different and I’m a little different since 2004.
“I’m just looking forward to playing in the postseason and give us a chance to go out and try to win a ring,” he said. “Bring them on. We’re excited.”
The Yankees went 6-0 against the Indians during the regular season.
“In regard to who we’re going to play, I haven’t put any thought or time into it just yet,” manager Eric Wedge said. “It looks like we’re going to be at home. That was one of the goals we were shooting for.”
Sabathia (19-7) won his 100th game at the age of 27 years, 100 days, the youngest pitcher since Greg Maddux in 1993 to reach the mark. Sabathia is 5-0 in his past six starts, and held the Royals to three runs and eight hits in seven innings.
“It’s a big accomplishment, but I feel like I’ve got more left to do,” Sabathia said.
Grudzielanek nicked Sabathia in the right wrist in the third inning. The Indians got a scare in the fifth when Grudzielanek’s line drive struck the lefty in his pitching arm. Wedge and trainer Lonnie Soloff rushed to the mound, but Sabathia remained in the game.
“It wasn’t like swollen or a big knot,” Sabathia said. “It hit me in the left wrist. I felt good in my warmup pitches, so there wasn’t any doubt I was going to stay in game. It was no problem. It didn’t have any affect on any of pitches I threw. He got me twice.”
Said Wedge: “You never like to see that happen. When we got out there, we found out pretty quickly it hit him on the meat part of his arm. He was OK.”
Joe Borowski worked the ninth for his AL-leading 44th save in 52 opportunities.
The Indians jumped out to a 3-0 lead off Kyle Davies (3-7).
Asdrubal Cabrera walked in the first before Travis Hafner hit his 24th home run, and Kenny Lofton hit an RBI triple in the second.
Hafner has five home runs in his past 22 games and 23 RBIs in his past 25.
“You want to be swinging the bat well going into the playoffs,” he said. “The big thing for me is consistency and I feel I’ve have consistent at-bats in September.”
This will be Lofton’s 11th trip to the playoffs, but he has never won a World Series.
“What is about to start, my body starts to kick into a high gear,” Lofton said. “You say playoffs and my eyes light up. I have another chance to do what I can do.”
The Royals broke a 19-inning scoreless drought in the second when Esteban German hit a two-run homer.
Kansas City tied it in the third when Mike Sweeney singled and Emil Brown doubled. The Indians regained the lead in the fourth when Casey Blake and Cabrera hit RBI singles.
“Sabathia should be the Cy Young winner,” Royals manager Buddy Bell said. “The fourth was the key inning. We had just tied it. Two outs, two strikes on Blake and couldn’t finish the inning. Kyle has got to learn to repeat his delivery. He’s not as consistent as he needs to be.”
The loss, coupled with a Chicago White Sox victory over Detroit, assured the Royals of their fourth straight last-place finish in the AL Central.
Sabathia joined Fausto Carmona as 19-game winners. It is the first time the Indians have had multiple 19-game winners since 1956, when Herb Score, Early Wynn and Bob Lemon each won 20.
• The Royals have scratched LHP Jorge De La Rosa, who was used in relief Thursday, from a Sunday start. They have not yet said who will replace him.
• The Royals have lost five of six and 17 of 23.
WHO: Cleveland at Kansas City
WHERE: Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, Mo.
PITCHERS: Westbrook (6-9, 4.32 ERA) vs. Meche (9-13, 3.69)
TV/RADIO: SportsTime Ohio; WTAM 1100-AM