"When it's all said and done, it comes back to me," Damon said. "I'm the guy who's supposed to get this offense going and I wasn't able to score a run. It starts with me. Hopefully we can push me across and score some runs."
Steaming toward the finish line of April with a hot stick, Damon is enjoying putting a slow start to his campaign behind him. He's especially thankful that he's not enduring a reprise of last year, when painful calf cramps limited his productivity and left Damon wondering why the Yankees had opened on a cold, snowy homestand in New York.
"I'm enjoying going out there and playing the game," Damon said. "Last year, I didn't enjoy dealing with nagging stuff. Now I feel like I can at least put my best game forward. ... The bat is coming alive a little bit, and it still starts at the top. Hopefully I can be as consistent as I can for a while and make the jobs easier on the guys coming up behind me."
Sunday's affair in Cleveland features a rematch of Game 1 of last year's American League Division Series, pitting New York right-hander Chien-Ming Wang -- a 19-game winner two years running -- against Cleveland's C.C. Sabathia, the defending AL Cy Young Award winner.
The Yankees have won all five of Wang's starts this season, and the 28-year-old is off to a 4-0 start, tying Boston's Daisuke Matsuzaka for the AL lead in victories and becoming the first Yankees hurler to win his first four decisions of a campaign since Kevin Brown in 2004.
Sabathia turned around a disappointing opening to his season against the Royals on Tuesday in Kansas City, firing six shutout innings, striking out 11. As Damon can attest, Sabathia surely casts an imposing shadow upon the struggling Yankees.
"The body's been feeling all right, but once you say that, you face a guy like C.C. [Sunday]," Damon said. "Hopefully, he's not on his game."
NYY: RHP Chien-Ming Wang (4-0, 3.94 ERA)
Wang didn't have his best stuff early on Tuesday at Chicago, but he gritted through and found a way, turning to his changeup and splitter to limit the White Sox to three runs on 10 hits over 6 1/3 innings. The victory, in Wang's 85th career start, made him the fastest Major Leaguer to record 50 wins as a starter since the Mets' Dwight Gooden, who won his 50th game in his 82nd start on June 29, 1986, at Chicago. Wang will be facing the Indians for the first time since his dreadful 2007 AL Division Series, when he suffered a pair of losses. In the regular season, Wang is 0-1 with a 8.44 ERA in his only career start at what is now known as Progressive Field.
CLE: LHP C.C. Sabathia (1-3, 10.13 ERA)
Sabathia was knocked around in his first four starts of the season because he struggled to command his fastball and he couldn't establish his cutter, especially against right-handed hitters. Virtually all of his problems went by the wayside when he pitched six scoreless innings against the Royals on Tuesday night. Sabathia allowed just four hits with two walks. He struck out 11 batters, looking very much like the Cy Young Award winner he was in '07. It all starts with the fastball. If Sabathia can command that pitch, he can work his secondary stuff off it and be his old dominant self.
Cleveland has won a season-high five games. The Yankees have lost three straight. ... Jeter is hitting .352 (137-for-389) in his career against Cleveland after going 3-for-5 on Saturday. ... Indians catcher Victor Martinez has hit in eight straight games. ... The Yankees are 9-2 in games where they have scored first and are 3-11 when their opponent scores first.
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Official game notes
WCBS 880, WNSW 1430 (Español)
Monday: Yankees (Mike Mussina, 2-3, 4.94) at Indians (Aaron Laffey, 4-2, 4.56 in 2007), 7:05 p.m. ET
Tuesday: Tigers (Kenny Rogers, 1-3, 7.66) at Yankees (Phil Hughes, 0-3, 7.85), 7:05 p.m. ET
Wednesday: Tigers (Jeremy Bonderman, 1-2, 4.28) at Yankees (TBD), 7:05 p.m. ET