Woes continue for Sabathia

For so long CC Sabathia has been high among the things you can count on around the Yankees that it is surprising to see him go through the stretch he has had the past month. CC bottomed out Sunday in an 8-3 loss to the Rays in which he was roughed up for seven runs and seven hits in seven innings. Clearly, seven was not a lucky number for Sabathia as the Yankees surrendered sole possession of first place in the American League East and dropped into a tie with the Red Sox, who come to Yankee Stadium later this week.

Perhaps surprising is not the word for Sabathia against the Rays or at Tropicana Field. The Rays have been a difficult opponent for the lefthander, whose career record against them fell below .500 (10-11) with a 3.48 ERA in 220 innings. At the Trop, CC is 3-7 with a 4.39 ERA in 108 2/3 innings. He is 0-2 with a 7.71 ERA in the St. Petersburg, Fla., dome in two starts this season with 14 hits allowed, including five home runs, in 14 innings.

Sabathia remained winless since April 27 and over five starts in that stretch is 0-2 with three no-decisions and a 4.85 ERA in 36 2/3 innings with 37 hits allowed, five of them homers. His ERA for the season has climbed to 3.96.

Tepid velocity on his fastball has been an issue for Sabathia this season. The home runs by Sean Rodriguez, a two-run shot in the third, and James Loney, a three-run bomb in the sixth, were off ineffective fastballs. CC also didn’t help himself in a two-run second inning when the Rays got one hit, a soft single at that, by not covering first base on a play that prolonged the inning.

The Yankees could not afford such lax play on a day when Rays starter Alex Cobb, who is becoming something of a Yankee killer with a 3-1 mark and 2.21 ERA against them, was his usual stingy self against the Bombers. The righthander, who improved to 6-2 with a 2.66 ERA, took a three-hit shutout into the ninth inning before Brett Gardner finally got the Yanks on the scoreboard with his fifth home run.

That ended Cobb’s scoreless streak against the Yankees at 22 1/3 innings. They got two more runs with assistance from wild reliever Cesar Ramos, who allowed two four-pitch walks and a two-run double by David Adams, before Joel Peralta restored order.

David Huff, who was claimed off waivers from the Indians and added to the roster Sunday, also had control issues in giving up a run in the eighth on two walks and a double to Desmond Jennings. From the seventh inning on this year, the Yankees have outscored opponents, 70-42. This was a game, however, that was decided long before the seventh inning.

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