Sabathia gets Yankees back on track
Subway Series hangover over. A little dose of CC was a big help.
In this case, the CC wasn’t Canadian Club whiskey but a pitcher named Sabathia, who not only righted the Yankees Friday night but also himself. The lefthander found his rhythm early amid hot and humid conditions and rang bells on the velocity pole he had not reached previously.
“I hadn’t seen a lot of 94s until tonight,” manager Joe Girardi said after the Yankees’ 4-1 victory over Boston that ended their five-game losing streak and got Sabathia his first winning decision in six starts since April 27.
Sabathia hit 94 miles per hour on his fastball occasionally and was regularly between 91 and 93 mph with his heater. CC talked after the game more about location than velocity but admitted he felt more like himself than he has for a while.
“It just felt good to get us back on the right track,” Sabathia said. “I always feel like it’s my responsibility to go out and have a good game and give us a chance to win, especially after what happened to us against the Mets.”
Sabathia was not part of the Subway Series sweep, but the five-game losing streak began on his watch with a poor outing last Sunday at Tropicana Field in an 8-3 drubbing by the Rays. Friday night was a different story.
“This is the kind of game we’re used to seeing from CC,” Girardi said. “This is almost where he is every year since he has been with us. When the weather warms up, he gets on a roll.”
Sabathia not only registered a few more ticks on the radar gun but had the bite back on his slider, the pitch he used for six of his 10 strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings. The only run he allowed was in the seventh on doubles by Dustin Pedroia and Mike Napoli. CC did not walk a batter.
“Anytime he was in a fastball count, he’d go to his breaking ball or his changeup to keep us off stride,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “He didn’t compound an issue by issuing a base on balls.”
Speaking of walks, the Yankees drew four of them off Jon Lester, twice as many as they had in the four games total against the Mets. Mark Teixeira started the Yankees’ two-run second inning with a walk. After Vernon Wells doubled, the Yankees scored on a single by Jayson Nix and one out later on a single by Ichiro Suzuki.
That would be all the support Sabathia would need, but the Yankees pushed across two more runs against Lester, who had defeated them back on Opening Day, on RBI singles by Kevin Youkilis in the fifth and Brett Gardner in the seventh.
It was also important to see Mariano Rivera get back on the bike again. Three nights after his stunning loss at Citi Field, Mo withstood singles by Pedroia and David Ortiz in the ninth to nail down his 19th save in 20 tries and 36th in a row at Yankee Stadium.