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Indians rookie subdues Yanks

After the cameras and microphones pulled back, Paul Rigdon was handed a telephone for yet another radio interview. Everyone wanted to talk to the rookie about beating the Yankees in his major-league debut.

Especially his father.

"It's awesome," said Larry Rigdon, standing and waiting near his son in the Cleveland clubhouse. "I was a little apprehensive about him facing the Yankees."

So were the Indians.

But Rigdon, a former Florida Gator, shut out the World Series champions on two hits for seven innings in his first big-league start Sunday, a 6-1 win.

Rigdon, the first Indians pitcher since Luis Tiant in 1964 to make his first major-league start against the Yankees, gave Cleveland just its second series win over New York at Jacobs Field.

"Unbelievable," the right-hander said. "This was better than I ever imagined. Before the game I tried to visualize what I would do, but this was better. Unbelievable."

The 24-year-old only arrived Friday morning, called up from Triple-A Buffalo one day after the Indians had to place starters Jaret Wright, Charles Nagy and reliever Ricardo Rincon on the disabled list.

That's when he was told his debut would be against the Yankees.

"I was nervous," he said. "But once I got out there and threw that first pitch to (Chuck) Knoblauch, I calmed down. My adrenaline is still flowing a little bit."

Rigdon was the closer for Florida in 1996, the year of the Gators' best finish (third place) at the College World Series. He had 10 saves and a 2.19 ERA, and made a single-season school-record 42 appearances.

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